September 10, 2015 7:22 pm
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TORONTO, ON (Sept 10, 2015) — Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and the Chiefs of Ontario pass on deepest condolences to the family of much loved author Basil Johnston after he passed to the spirit world yesterday morning.

“We want to pass on our blessings to Basil Johnston’s family and the community of Chippewas of Nawash First Nation,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “He was a scholar, a keeper of the language and highly respected author. He was truly a gift to all of us and his books will remain in almost every First Nation School and library for future generations. He was an icon that will never be replaced but he left a legacy for all to enjoy. We are also grateful to him for his participation in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

Johnston was a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and is regarded as Canada’s most successful and widely read Indigenous writer. His first writings were published in 1970. His numerous short stories, essays, articles, and poems have appeared in several Aboriginal publications. Johnston has received the Order of Ontario, honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto and Laurentian University, an Aboriginal Achievement Award for Heritage and Spirituality, and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2007 Anskohk Aboriginal Literary Awards.

Johnston’s early classics include, Ojibway Heritage (1976) and Moose Meat & Wild Rice (1978).

He was born in Wasauksing First Nation, educated in reserve schools at Cape Croker and Spanish, Ontario, and earned a B.A. with Honours from Loyola College in Montreal, and completed a secondary school teaching certificate at the Ontario College of Education. He taught high school in North York, Ontario from 1962 to 1969, before taking a position in the Ethnology Department of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. He remained at the ROM until 1994, to initiate a Native approach to teaching at the museum, and to record and celebrate Ojibway (Anishinaabe) heritage, especially language and mythology.

Johnston was 86.

“Elder Johnston will be sadly missed and remembered fondly,” said Regional Chief Day.


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