Leonard Hardlotte, Richie Bird and Vince Robillard are remembered as well respected individuals who contributed wholeheartedly to the Prince Albert Grand Council and worked tirelessly to help keep culture and tradition alive.
The three men, who've since passed, were honoured with a memorial feast and round dance, a “spiritual way to keep the relationships strong as brothers and sisters,” according to Jacob Sanderson, who was in attendance.
“They were very well known people and very respected people that worked in the organization,” he added. “They lived very traditional lifestyles and were very active as leaders [within the PAGC].”
The night began with a feast and pipe ceremony followed by a number of traditional dances. Friends, family and representatives from PAGC and FSIN packed the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre for the event. Among them was Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte, the brother of Leonard, who had close ties with all three men. He said the night was an important step in the healing process.
“A lot of people who came here to the round dances are coming to remember their loved ones,” he said. “You never heal thoroughly when you lose loved ones, but this is a time and a good way to remember loved ones.”
Hardlotte said his brother grew up in the student residence formally on the PAGC grounds, and after graduating, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. After a brief stint in the military, he retired to Canada, joined stampede wrestling, attained a private plane's license, and even assisted fighting fires in the North before successfully becoming the Vice Chief of the PAGC.
He was involved with the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement (NRTA) and was heavily concerned with the Northern Saskatchewan Trappers Association.
Bird, according to Hardlotte, was an avid athlete in the world in fastball and hockey. He quickly sought leadership in his community and was a band councillor for many years on the Montreal Lake Cree Nation. He later ran for chief and served two terms.
After taking some time off to “enjoy life,” he returned to the Grand Council and served in the health services department and worked closely with the survivors of the residential school system, as he was one himself.
Robillard spent many years as a director of operations and chief of staff within PAGC, according to Hardlotte, who knew the man from a young age through sport. Robillard later worked in the executive branch under former Grand Chief Ron Michel and worked closely with chief and councils from the area on a number of matters.
A hockey tournament and memorial puck drop were also held for a recently passed on Elder, Roy Kingfisher, from Sturgeon Lake.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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