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In Memory of Chief Randy Kapashesit of MoCreebec Council of the Cree Nation
The following message was written by TIES Advisory Board member Rick MacLeod Farley, who has worked with Chief Randy Kapashesit and known him personally. By sharing Rick's message, we hope to honor Randy's life and legacy, and to share some of Randy's wisdom and inspirations, which some of us have been fortunate enough to have experienced first hand. The entire team of TIES wishes to send our condolences to Randy's family, friends, Cree Village Ecolodge team and everyone in the community of MoCreebec.
Chief Randy Kapashesit at the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2008, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (September 2008)
By Rick MacLeod Farley, TIES Advisory Board Member
I am writing with some sad news from the Cree Village Ecolodge in Moose Factory.
Chief Randy Kapashesit of MoCreebec Council of the Cree Nation died suddenly early Wednesday morning of a heart attack. Randy was an incredibly gifted activist for Aboriginal rights and for stewardship of our environment. He served as Chief of MoCreebec for the last 25 years.
Randy worked tirelessly for his community of MoCreebec and for Aboriginal people in his region, his country and beyond. He was recently appointed to the United Nations North American Indigenous Caucus on the planning committee for the United Nations 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
Randy was the visionary behind the development of the Cree Village Ecolodge during the 1990's. He was also the Chief Executive Officer since it opened in 2000.
I recall many bold moves that Randy took when his community was developing Cree Village Ecolodge. I remember Randy shutting down the ecolodge facility planning work for about four months when he decided that the outside professionals were moving too quickly and that the community wasn't involved enough in all the decision making.
I recall Randy pushing the architect and engineers, again and again, and insisting that the facility be a reflection of his MoCreebec community in every way. Randy said at the time: "I want people to know they are in Cree Village Ecolodge no matter what part of the lodge they are in". I recall Randy phoning me to tell me he wasn't happy with the then proposed finishing materials and furnishings, and asking me to jump in and help identify much more environmentally responsible solutions.
The result of Randy's inspired work on Cree Village Ecolodge is reflected, in part, by a comment in the guest book: "Cree Village Ecolodge is more than a green hotel. It is more than an ecolodge. Cree Village Ecolodge is an embassy for your MoCreebec people."
On a personal level, I have many fond memories of times spent with Randy during the 90's when my partner Pauline and I lived in Moose Factory. Randy took us 'under his wing' and taught us much about life up north, about being parents and life overall. We would often go out to Randy's father's bush camp by snowmobile in the depths of winter, sometimes with his son and daughter.
I take great comfort in knowing that Randy spent his last weekend with his partner Donna and his two children (who are now in their twenties), and that he spent his last Saturday with his grandson teaching him how to swim in deep water.
Everyone who spent time with Randy learned from his example, from his commitment to his family and community and to the greater good. Everyone who heard Randy speak was impacted by his words and by the depth of his thinking and actions.
Chief Randy Kapashesit had much to teach us all about swimming in the deep waters of life, and how to take care of each other and the earth.