Region mourns loss of iconic chief

Chief Frank Halcrow

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

One of Canada’s last hereditary chiefs – and a man who served Kapawe’no First Nation as chief for over 50 years – has passed away.

Chief Frank Thomas Halcrow, 76, became chief in 1970 and saw the band through good and bad times with strong and exemplary leadership.

Throughout his tenure, he became a stalwart and capable spokesperson for Indigenous rights. During the early 1980s, Chief Halcrow advocated for Constitutional acknowledgement of the rights of Indigenous peoples, meeting directly with Members of Parliament of Great Britain and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He is widely acclaimed for this significant role in the patriation of Canada’s Constitution in 1982.

Chief Halcrow was a pivotal figure in the establishment of the Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council, alongside Walter Twinn of Sawridge First Nation in Slave Lake. The council represents the interests of many First Nations members in the Lesser Slave Lake region and has been a model of effective collaboration in program delivery for its member Nations since its inception.

Never resting on his laurels, Chief Halcrow was also diligent in the establishment of, and clearly responsible for the creation of, the Grand Council of Treaty 8 First Nations.

Chief Halcrow also founded the Alberta Indian Health Care Commission, which was instrumental in the creation of Rehabilitation Centres in Alberta. As such he served as chairman of the Kapown Rehabilitation Centre at Grouard.

Chief Halcrow was also chair of the Child Welfare Committee, and helped develop the first Indigenous Studies curriculum offered by three universities in Alberta, and was a past member of the Alberta Teachers Association.

Reflecting on his legacy, Chief Halcrow shared these words:

“My wish for Kapawe’no, now and after my time is over, is to see not wealth or prosperity but contentment. People who are satisfied with what they have; people who are proud of what they are and have accomplished; people who look out for one another; people who really care about their environment [both human and Creator made]; people who feel a sense of self-worth. None of this is unrealistic. What is unrealistic is to believe that we can have any of that without working hard to achieve it.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced when finalized.

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