Hundreds of online tributes have poured in for cultural icon Tyrone Tootoosis.
Tootoosis, 58, died Sunday at his ranch near Duck Lake.
John Lagimodiere, the editor and publisher of Eagle Feather News, said Tootoosis lived, walked and breathed Cree culture.
“That’s how he came into the world and that’s how he left,” he said.
Lagimodiere said journalists like himself relied on Tyrone’s wisdom and knowledge to understand history and various First Nations cultures.
In the nineties, Tootoosis began writing a column for the paper where he transcribed stories he had collected from elders dating back to the fifties.
In addition to being a storykeeper, Lagimodiere said one of Tootoosis’ legacies will be his push for First Nations accountability in his own community and the creation of the First Nations Accountability Coalition.
“He ruffled some feathers without a doubt,” Lagimodiere said.
“A lot of the accountability and the conversations around how we change some of that ‘not so good’ band office mentality has led to a lot of positive changes that we can trace directly back to his advocacy.”
Also an artist and actor, Tootoosis left an impression that demanded respect and served as a role model for many First Nations leaders.
“I called him ‘nistes’ which is Cree for ‘big brother’ and he called me ‘nisimis’ the Cree world for little brother,” said Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.
Mervin Brass, the editor, and publisher of Treaty Four News considered Tootoosis a mentor and said his death will leave a void for young journalists.
“A lot of journalists relied on Tyrone for an education in how to approach and follow the protocol when dealing with First Nations people to get an interview, get information,” he said.
A wake for Tootoosis will be held Monday evening on the Poundmaker First Nation. His funeral is scheduled on Wednesday.