The team at the First Nations Infrastructure Institute is mourning the death of FNII Development Board Member Geordi Kakepetum. Geordi passed away Aug. 2 in Thunder Bay. He had a long and successful career as a leader – first as Chief of Keewaywin First Nation and then as the founder of Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council.
Over the span of 30 years, Geordi led the transformation of Keewaytinook Okimakanak – which means “Northern Chiefs” in Oji-Cree – into a multi-faceted corporation with more than 200 staff members and numerous regional offices. The Council provides six First Nations in northwestern Ontario with services that include health, education, economic development, finance and public works.
Geordi believed all First Nations people are entitled to education, healthcare, and appropriate living conditions such as housing, food security and clean drinking water. This was the driving force behind his work all his life – including the past five years when he served as a member of the FNII Development Board. The board was created to guide FNII’s development phase through to its formal establishment through a legislative amendment to the First Nations Fiscal Management Act. That amendment took place in June.
“We appreciated Geordi’s meaningful contributions,” said Development Board Chair Allan Claxton. “He provided leadership and guidance that helped us understand the unique challenges experienced by Indigenous communities in northern and remote locations.”