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Frank Beardy honoured with headdress

Thursday December 20, 2012
Rick Garrick/Wawatay News
Former Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) grand chief Frank Beardy (left) shakes hands with current Grand Chief Harvey Yesno.

Former Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) grand chief Frank Beardy was honoured with a headdress on Dec. 17 by Grand Chief Harvey Yesno and Deputy Grand Chiefs Alvin Fiddler and Goyce Kakegamic.

“To us, this is very important — honouring our leaders,” said Grand Chief Harvey Yesno during a presentation ceremony at Beardy’s home in Muskrat Dam. “Frank has been serving our people for a long time. I remember the story he used to tell me about leaving on the last floatplane in the fall just before freeze up and not returning until close to Christmas. In those days we didn’t have band offices, we didn’t have phones.”

Beardy and Grand Council Treaty #9 founding vice-president Chris Cromarty received recognition for their efforts to improve the lives of NAN community members during the Nov.
13-15 Special Chiefs Assembly in Thunder Bay. Cromarty received his headdress at a Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School event at the time, but due to the circumstances with Beardy being in the hospital and conflicting schedules, Dec. 17 was the first opportunity to present Beardy with his headdress.

“I’m very happy — back when I was a young man starting off I was just doing what the people expected me to do working for them, I never expected to get an honour such as this,” Beardy said after receiving the headdress. “I never expected to be honoured because of what was expected of me by the people. And now I look back and think about the people I worked with, a lot of them who have passed on, I think about their memories and I am truly honoured today to have the recognition of the leadership in the past work and the role I played in developing Nishnawbe Aski Nation.”

Yesno said that even when Beardy was not serving as grand chief or chief of his own community, he still performed a leadership role with NAN, such as during various negotiations and meetings with government officials.

“That mantle of leadership does not change just because a person’s work is done,” Yesno said. “I know Frank has continued to offer encouragement to me and advice, even long before I got this position.”

Beardy served as the founding executive director of Wawatay Native Communications Society in the early 1970s, chief of Muskrat Dam in the 1980s and 1990s, deputy grand chief from 1982-83 and 1985-88 and grand chief from 1983-85.

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