OTTAWA, Canada (UCTP Taino News) – William Commanda, an internationally respected Algonquin elder died quietly in his home early Wednesday morning at the age of 97. Commanda was recently released from the hospital where he was treated for kidney related illness.
Grandfather Commanda was a trapper, guide, a master canoe maker, and a spiritual leader with a local, national, and international following. He was a chief of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg reserve north of Ottawa from 1951 to 1970.
The holder of three historic and sacred wampum belts, Commanda was well-received and admired for his messages of peace and environmentalism wherever he traveled. He was best known for his efforts to build bridges of understanding between cultures.
Indigenous leaders around the world are mourning his passing. Statements of condolence have already been issued from the Assembly of First Nations and the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council.
"Grandfather Commanda was a great friend and supporter of the Taino People” stated Roberto Borrero, President of the United Confederation of Taino People’s Office of International Relations and Regional Coordination. “Some time ago he sent a sacred eagle feather to our elders in Boriken (Puerto Rico) to signify our spiritual connection."
Borrero continued stating "Over the years, some of our representatives had the honor to work together with Grandfather Commanda at various international indigenous gatherings. He will be long remembered for his wisdom and greatly missed."
A vigil for Grandfather Commanda began Wednesday night at his home near Maniwaki and is set to continue until his burial there on Friday afternoon. A celebration of his life is scheduled to continue through the weekend at the “Circle of All Nations”, a gathering Commanda hosted annually.