(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today mourned the passing of Noel Starblanket, a highly respected Knowledge Keeper, advocate, teacher and two-time National Chief, from Star Blanket Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.
“I offer my deepest condolences and prayers on behalf of myself and the AFN Executive to the family of Noel Starblanket, a strong and outspoken leader and Knowledge Keeper who dedicated his life to ensuring First Nations people and First Nations rights are honoured and respected,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Noel was a major and influential figure in Saskatchewan and across the country. So many young people of my generation learned from him through his example of hard work and his accomplishments both as a leader and a Knowledge Keeper. He was already a Chief of Star Blanket Cree Nation in his early 20s and continued throughout his life to set a positive example of strong leadership in a way that builds bridges among people and communities. This is a profound loss for all of us, but his spirit, his teachings and his leadership will always guide us.”
The family announced that Noel Starblanket passed early this morning. Starblanket started his work as a leader at a young age. He became Chief of Star Blanket Cree Nation in 1971 at the age of 24, making him the youngest Chief in the country at the time. He served on the board of what was then called the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (now the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations) and served as leader for two terms of the National Indian Brotherhood, now known as the Assembly of First Nations, from 1976 – 1980. Later in life, Starblanket dedicated his time to providing spiritual guidance, teachings, advice and insight as the Elder-in-Residence at Scott Collegiate in Regina, with the Regina public school board and the University of Regina’s Office of Indigenization. He helped set the foundation for the eventual repatriation of the Constitution in 1982.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For more information, please contact:
Jenna Young Castro, Senior Communications Advisor, Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 201, 613-314-8157 (cell) [email protected]
Monica Poirier, Bilingual Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382, 613-292-0857 [email protected]