After being admitted to a Saskatoon hospital for an unrelated illness, Chief Allan Paquachan, 70, of Fishing Lake First Nation (FLFN) died on Jan. 17, 2015, of apparent heart failure.
Chief Allan Paquachan is seen sixth from right, and his wife Marjorie third from left, among the elders who hosted a sharing circle and storytelling at Fishing Lake First Nation’s first winter festival, held February 2014.
Shortly after the news of his death, tributes to his service and leadership to his community began pouring in, including condolences from the national Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chief Perry Bellegarde and former AFN chief Phil Fontaine that were read at the funeral service.
FLFN Councillor Sheryl Kayseas says the community is taking it very hard.
“We are all still in shock, really,” she told the News, as the community prepared for yet another funeral for one of their lifelong members.
The funeral for Paquachan was held at Percy Severight Memorial Hall in Kylemore the morning of Jan. 21, followed by interment at Fishing Lake Anglican Church Cemetery.
During the service, Chief Paquachan was memorialized as an avid sportsman who not only watched, but loved to participate in and coach hockey, curling, golf and fastball. He was an avid hunter, farmer and mechanic but above all else, he was a compassionate community man.
Chief Paquachan could be seen at most band events as well as many of the area’s public events. He enjoyed visiting with band members as well as with his community’s neighbours. He and his wife Marjorie often would be spotted in one of the local restaurants, grabbing a bite to eat after a day full of activities, before heading home to Fishing Lake.
“Chief Paquachan was a very gentle, dignified man,” said Wadena’s volunteer fire Chief Harold Narfason. “He was a great leader.”
Allan Paquachan was first elected as chief of Fishing Lake First Nation in 1984 and had served until the day of his death, with the exception of two years.
The most recent elections for chief and council were to be held last week, however, due to his death, they have been postponed for another 40 days, according to Kayseas. Fenton Paquachan, who is the director of operations for FLFN, will be in charge of day-to-day operations until elections can be held.
Chief Paquachan is survived by his wife of 50 years, Marjorie; daughter Jaqueline Ottmann; sons Fenton, Keith, Giles, Jeffrey and Kevin; 21 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
“He was a community man who enjoyed visiting and telling and listening to stories. He was a story keeper who had tremendous knowledge of our heritage, community history, the land and the stories of our people,” his daughter Jacqueline told Mervin Brass of Treaty 4 News. “He worked tirelessly, making himself available 24 hours a day. The door to his home was never locked.”
May he rest in peace.
By Alison Squires