OTTAWA – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo commented on the passing of Gordon Tootoosis, Cree actor and activist from Poundmaker First Nation in Saskatchewan who passed away this week.
The National Chief stated: “Today, First Nations and Canadians across the country mourn the passing of Gordon Tootoosis, a Cree and Canadian cultural icon. On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations, the AFN Executive and First Nations across the country, I want to extend our sincere condolences to the Tootoosis family, his wife Irene and their children and grandchildren, and his friends and community.
Gordon will be remembered as a talented, dedicated and multi-faceted individual. He was truly extraordinary. He survived the tragedy of the residential schools and used that experience in a positive way to help his people, serving as a social worker for youth and young offenders. He served his community as Chief and went on to become the famous actor familiar to so many in this country and around the world. He imbued every role he took on with humanity and complexity. He made a difference to those who knew him personally as well as those who knew him only through his performances.
He was always one to promote and encourage First Nations people to pursue their dreams. He was a role model to so many of us and always exemplified kindness and class. A proud Cree Elder and devoted family man, he still lived in his home community of Poundmaker. Gordon will be remembered as a strong, commanding presence both onstage and off. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who loved and cherished Gordon Tootoosis.”
Gordon Tootoosis was awarded the Order of Canada in 2004. He has served as a founding member of the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company. His credits include the film Legends of the Fall (1996), the mini-series Big Bear (1998), the TV series Northern Exposure and the film Alien Thunder (1973) with Chief Dan George and Donald Sutherland. Gordon Tootoosis recently received rave reviews for his performance as the lead character in the play Gordon Winter. He was well known for his role in the popular CBC series North of 60.