Former Chief of Walpole Island First Nation (Bkejwanong) passes on into the Spirit World

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (May 1, 2018)— Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee is saddened to announce the passing of former Chief of Walpole Island First Nation (Bkejwanong) Joseph Gilbert into the Spirit World.

“My condolences go out to his family, friends, community and congregation during this difficult time,” says Grand Council Chief Madahbee.

During Gilbert’s 12-year tenure as Chief of Bkejwanong, he and council set a goal of moving the community as a whole into mino bimaadziwin (living in a good way).

“We know we won’t achieve that in one term, but it’s setting that as a direction– mino bimaadziwin— in a sense, bringing people to where they have a full life. Not only in the sense of economically, or educational-wide, but spiritually, every component that makes life – having a sense of well-being. We’ve set that as a goal,” expressed Gilbert in early 2011.

Gilbert was passionate about the revitalization of Anishnaabemowin and believed that it is an important part of nation building. He affirmed his commitment to the revitalization of the language by signing the Walpole Island First Nation, Bkejwanong Territory Anishnaabemowin Declaration. The declaration is a commitment to building a community that maintains and speaks its Anishinaabe language and to develop, promote, and encourage language initiatives so that the community, children, and future generations will hear, learn and enjoy speaking the original language and to honour our ancestors.

“Joe was a long-time acquaintance of mine – I knew him to be a strong, spiritual man. He was always thoughtful in his actions and words. He had a true strategic presence on the Ontario political landscape and was a great orator who knew how to capture the audience, whether in a meeting or in congregation,” recalls Grand Council Chief Madahbee.

Gilbert was also a Pastor at the Walpole Island Evangelistic Centre where he represented the gospel and his community with dignity and faithfulness.

The Anishinabek Nation is the political advocate for 40 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 60,000 people. The Anishinabek Nation is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

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