NAN Mourns Passing of Artist, Educator, and former Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic

Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic
Former Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic

Thunder Bay – INDIGENOUS – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse, on behalf of the Executive Council, expresses condolences following the passing of Goyce Kakegamic, an artist, educator, and long-serving member of the NAN Executive Council:

“On behalf of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, I send our love and prayers to Goyce’s wife Lucy, his children, friends and the community of Keewaywin First Nation.

I had the pleasure of working under Goyce for many years and was moved by his determination to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our members, especially our youth. Powered by conviction and grounded by faith, Goyce was not shy about expressing his feelings and never wavered from his convictions, no matter how great the challenge.

Goyce was passionate about education and the well-being of youth and their families. He was determined to close the significant gap experienced by students in our communities compared with those in urban centres. He led tremendous work to ensure that our youth received quality education opportunities and took every opportunity to encourage and support them throughout their academic careers.

In addition to his acclaimed artistic talent, Goyce was also a visionary who helped advance NAN’s work toward education self-governance in the early stages of negotiations with our federal Treaty partner, which set us on the path towards Education Jurisdiction.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend, but we celebrate and give thanks for his life of creativity, service, and friendship. We take comfort that his spirit remains with us, and remember him fondly for his tremendous contributions to our Nation.”

Goyce Kakegamic was a long-serving leader whose professional career encompassed art, education, and politics. Some of his accomplishments during his four terms as Deputy Grand Chief (1997-2006, 2012-2015) include:

  • establishing the Northern Ontario School of Medicine Thunder Bay campus;
  • launching the Embrace Life program to help youth develop life skills and strategies for healing;
  • developing Oshki-Pimache-O-Win: The WenJack Education Institute and establishing an Aboriginal trades school at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School to increase education and employment opportunities for youth; and
  • strengthening relationships with municipal partners across northern Ontario to make communities more welcoming for First Nations students.

An accomplished artist, Goyce was influenced by his brother-in-law, famed artist Norval Morrisseau, and Cree artist Carl Ray. He and his brothers founded the highly successful Triple K Cooperative so First Nations artists could represent themselves instead of having to meet the expectations of non-Indigenous publishers.

His art reached international audiences and has been displayed in numerous exhibitions and permanent collections including Canada House (England), Aula Luisenschule (Germany), the Art Gallery of Alberta, Canadian Museum of History, Carleton University Art Gallery, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Simon Fraser University Gallery, and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

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