OTTAWA – “Today, First Nations from coast to coast to coast mourn the passing and honour the legacy of Dr. Tobasonakwut Kinew, a man who dedicated his life to the cause of the Anishinaabe and First Nations and educating all Canadians about our people, our rights and our teachings,” said AFN National Chief Atleo. “He was a Pipe Carrier, Sun Dancer, a man deeply immersed in the knowledge of the traditional Anishinaabe Mite’iwin. His insight into the connections between traditional knowledge and contemporary teachings allowed him to reach across cultures and generations to build bridges of understanding”.
Tobasonakwut Kinew was an esteemed member of The University of Winnipeg community in his multiple roles as Elder and Faculty for the Indigenous Governance department and Master’s in Development Practice with a focus on Indigenous Development program.
As a compelling role-model and teacher, Dr. Kinew offered a graduate seminar, Pathways to Indigenous Wisdom, where students had their assumptions and world views challenged and enriched by a deep and complex understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing. By decolonizing the mind, students are open to imagining and, later, implementing governance strategies that are embedded in Indigenous teachings.
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo in reflecting on the passing of respected Anishinaabe Elder, activist and educator Dr. Tobasonakwut Kinew, a citizen of the Ojibways of Onigaming, a Treaty #3 community in Ontario, stated, “Dr. Kinew was a firm believer in education for our youth. He himself was a survivor of the residential schools, and his ability to overcome and transcend that experience, while never forgetting the impact it had on our people, was inspiring to all.
“Dr. Kinew was a true leader. He served as Chief of his community, Grand Chief of Treaty #3 and Regional Chief for the Chiefs of Ontario. Many will remember also that he was the Elder that accompanied former National Chief Phil Fontaine in their private audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2009. Dr. Kinew made a powerful impression by bringing into the meeting with him traditional sacred items and gifts from First Nations across the country.
“Our thoughts today are first and foremost with Dr. Kinew’s family. We send them our thoughts, prayers and songs. Their loss is a loss for all of us. We honour Dr. Kinew’s legacy and send our sincerest condolences.”
This month, the University of Winnipeg established The Dr. Tobasonakwut Kinew Fund for the promotion of Indigenous Culture, History and Language. Dr. Kinew served with the University as an Elder and instructor in the Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance and Master’s in Development Practice with a focus on Indigenous Development. The University of Winnipeg honoured Elder Kinew with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2011.
Dr. Tobasonaknut Kinew Fund Established
The University of Winnipeg today announced establishment of a $10,000 fund in honour of Dr.Tobasonakwut Kinew, an esteemed member of the UWinnipeg community in his multiple roles as elder and instructor in the Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance and Master’s in Development Practice with a focus on Indigenous Development, and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from UWinnipeg in 2011.
The Dr. Tobasonakwut Kinew Fund for the promotion of Indigenous Culture, History and Language is possible because of a personal $5,000 donation by Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg and his wife Ms. Denise Ommanney, and a personal $5,000 donation by Tobasonakwut’s son Wab Kinew, UWinnipeg’s Director of Indigenous Inclusion. Additional donations to the fund are gratefully accepted by The University of Winnipeg Foundation.
“This fund will allow UWinnipeg to continue strengthening Indigenous programming for both the university and our surrounding neighbourhood, with more offerings like the popular Ojibwe class at our Wii Chiiwaaknak Learning Centre as well as specialized seminars and research projects,” said Axworthy. “Through his long and varied career, Tobasonakwut has instilled respect for all Indigenous peoples and their unique ways of thinking and perceiving the world. We are investing in this llife’s work.”
Born on a trapline in Lake of the Woods, Tobasonakwut Kinew is a pipe carrier, a high degree member of the Anishinaabe Mite’iwin, and a Sundancer of many years of both the Anishinaabe and Lakota traditions. In October 2012, Tobasonakwut and Dr. Phil Fontaine honoured Axworthy – Waapshki Pinaysee Inini – White Thunderbird Man, at a sacred pipe ceremony on campus.
“My father is a tireless advocate for reconciliation, believing that non-Indigenous people should embrace the Indigenous community, but also that Indigenous people must share the wisdom and beauty of our culture for the benefit of all,” said Wab Kinew. “I’m happy this fund will make sure that vision lives on.”
A residential school survivor, Tobasonakwut rose to be a Chief and of the Ojibways of Onigaming, a founding member of both the National Indian Brotherhood and the Assembly of First Nations, Grand Chief of Treaty #3 and the Regional Chiefs of all Chiefs of Ontario First Nations in the mid 1980s.He is a tireless advocate for higher education and is a founding member of the Native American Academy of Science and founding member of UWinnipeg’s Indigenous Advisory Council.
“Dr. Kinew lives his life sharing the Anishinaabe teachings with others, to change the world for the betterment of all peoples,” said Dr. Phil Fontaine, former national chief, Assembly of First Nations and member of UWinnipeg’s Indigenous Advisory Circle.