Abel Kitchen, 1943-2018

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It was with sadness the news reached us of the passing of Abel Kitchen.

Abel was a man of many talents and abilities. When the Quebec government announced the “Project of the Century,” a plan to dam Cree lands— he was on hand to ensure the Crees wouldn’t be left by the roadside. When legal actions in the courts failed, he was there to negotiate the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

The then newly formed Grand Council of the Crees elected Abel as Executive Chief in 1974. Later on he would become the Chair of the Cree Regional Authority. That was back when the positions of Grand Chief and Chair were separate.

In much the same way Abel’s talents led him to becoming the Chair of Creeco. Later on in life he would become Executive Director of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services. He was also on a working group with the Cree School Board, involved with Elders Council and mentored youth. At one point Abel was the chief of Waswanipi.

It would be hard to find any part of the Cree world that Abel had not touched. In his later years he lived a more traditional lifestyle passing on the torch to the youth who would seek him out for advice.

Perhaps a comment made in Nishiiyuu Ways gives you an idea of the driving force behind the Cree Elder. Abel said, “Emphasize values because I think that’s what drove the system in the old days and that’s probably what is going to drive the Nishiiyuu Way if we bring it forward.

“Values like, sharing for instance. Those principles also were very important. The whole society was based on helping each other because it was a very tough life, you could say, and what we had in the old days, the only way to survive was to help each other.”

Because of the dedication and commitment Able gave to the Cree Nation, things aren’t as tough as they were. You could say Abel’s legacy is woven into the very fabric of Cree life today. We thank you for that, Abel, and wish you peaceful rest.


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