DUCK LAKE, Sask. –Cree activist, artist and actor Tyrone Tootoosis has died.
Tootoosis, who was 58, died Sunday at his ranch near Duck Lake.
John Lagimodiere, editor and publisher of Eagle Feather News, said Tootoosis began writing a column in the 90s for the paper where he transcribed stories he collected from elders.
Tootoosis also did some acting and had major roles in the 1998 miniseries “Big Bear” and the 2003 movie “Dreamkeeper.”
He also was a former curator and manager of cultural resources at Wanuskewin Park in Saskatoon.
Winona Wheeler said on her Facebook page that a wake for her husband was to be held Monday night on the Poundmaker First Nation near the Battlefords.
“He was a warrior till the end,” she said in a post.
The funeral service will be Wednesday at Poundmaker Hall, followed by a horse-drawn procession to the Tootoosis family burial grounds, said a post on her Facebook page.
Lagimodiere said one of Tootoosis’s legacies is the creation of the First Nations Accountability Coalition.
“He ruffled some feathers without a doubt,” Lagimodiere said.
“A lot of the accountability and the conversations around how we change some of that ‘not so good’ band office mentality has led to a lot of positive changes that we can trace directly back to his advocacy.”
Tootoosis left an impression that demanded respect and served as a role model for many First Nations leaders, said the chief of Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.
“I called him ‘nistes’ which is Cree for ‘big brother’ and he called me ‘nisimis’ the Cree world for little brother,” said Bobby Cameron.
Mervin Brass, editor and publisher of Treaty Four News, considered Tootoosis a mentor and said his death will leave a void for young journalists.
“A lot of journalists relied on Tyrone for an education in how to approach and follow the protocol when dealing with First Nations people to get an interview, get information,” he said.