Canada 03

William Magiskan

November 29, 2020


Former Chief  William Valentine Magiskan, who championed First Nation rights for more than two decades as leader of the Ojibway homelands of Aroland First Nation #242, died suddenly on Sunday, November 29, 2020 at the age of 68 years . As a result of movement of the Aroland Indian Association, Members of Megan, Matawasagon, Therriault, Gagnon, Magiskan families and with their guidance Chief William Magiskan set forth his political career.  Chief William Magiskan successfully negotiated the AFN#242 Reserve Status within the “Six Pack Agreement-Nishnawbe-Aski Nation in the early 1980’s.  This agreement brought the First Nation new housing, water, sewer much needed community infrastructure.  He worked tirelessly to improve the living conditions for the people.  He ensured the community was not separated as many members were not deemed status but they were family.  He successful ensured the families were going to be kept together and the community was going forward as one.   When the Canadian Government attempted to turn over land which was not environmentally protected and cleaned, he advised the people do not accept the contaminated land.      

Chief William Magiskan recognized Entrepreneurship is about developing innovative solutions to the people’s complications. He was also a driving force of the First Nation’s economy and envisioned the first nation’s community owned company which provided much needed employment through the housing programs.  He also recognized the need to access medical attention for the members and developed a transportation company to ensure access to medical services.

Chief William Magiskan was instrumental in the establishment of the Matawa Tribal Council his vision to support the nine member Ojibway and Cree First Nations within the James Bay Treaty No. 9 and Robinson-Huron Treaty area.  He was aware of the commitment of service required and fulfilling the community’s needs continuously.  Chief William Magiskan also ensured the needs of the children were kept a priority.  The need to protect the children was ensured by participating in the early development of the Tikinagan Child and Family Services.  He ensured the valuable principle of first nation family was made a key cornerstone of life in the community and the services available to its members. 

Chief William Magiskan spent the early part of his life hunting fishing and trapping on the Kapatongwa Lake, Melchett Lake and Ogoki Lake traditional lands.  He then was educated at the Aroland Indian Day School and then in Thunder Bay.  The ordeal of “Taking the Indian Out of the Child” government concept only provided resilience and survival; He became to be known as a seasoned leader in the defence of first nation rights specifically encouraging the younger generations to learn the language, the culture, and the traditions.  Most of all to “defend them the entire rest of your life” as he would say, he was known as a spokesperson for the respect and protection of first nations’ traditional territories and resources. 

Chief William Magiskan carried the natural responsibility of protecting the lands.  He was an honored and respected elder of the Ongongumi Kitchinishnabek.  He brought his knowledge of the local history and wisdom of the homelands and ensured the “INAAKONIGAN ” AFN#242 Consultation and Accommodation Protocol  the framework  in which proponents will care, honor and respect the homelands of the people of Aroland First Nation.  To ensure the lands were kept for use for all, and the generations to come. With others, he carefully provided the input of integrity of the mapping our traditional and local ecological knowledge.

Chief William Magiskan also served and chaired many many first nation initiatives and his intelligence, honor and humility always brought great pride the work he completed while representing and advocating for our nation and it’s values.

Chief William Magiskan also cherished lifelong friendship and all who he crossed and shared paths with.  He recognized your importance and always respected you with his nishnawbe humor and unique smile. 

Chief William Magiskan is predeased by his father William Magiskan and mother Nora Whitehead Magiskan, brother’s Abraham, Joseph, Edward, Andrew, Isaac, George Kashkish, Sisters Ivy Magiskan Gagnon,  Alice, Mary, Veronica, Henriette, Emma Towedo and Emily Meshake.   He also has many many beloved Sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews, cousins, friends whom he loved each of them dearly who has also travelled to the spirit world.

Chief William Magiskan is survived by Anna Marie Magiskan (Philip Towedo), Terry-Lynn Gagnon (Lyndsay Gagnon), Jason Magiskan, Earl Elkin (Shannon Kashkish), Edward Magiskan.  Grandchildren Axel, Jordan, Cher, Wynona, Becker, Colby, Summer, Melinda, Earl Jr. Great Grand Children;  Kyler, Corben, and Alice.  He was also a respected Godfather to many to whom he honored and cherished deeply.   

Chief William Magiskan is also survived by his brothers Daniel (Maggie), Ivan (Judy) and sister Victoria Karhunan.  He also has many, many family members whom he loved greatly. How he loved to share the upbringing of the family.  Together they were the fiber of our Nation, he loved the village and often reminded to get back to our old ways of community.

The heart of the people the drum prepares your journey; a community warrior sets out for the everlasting homelands.  Your love for our homelands, the village and her people will never forget your dedication, commitment, strength, service and we honor you.    

Memorial contributions may be made either to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation or the Canadian Diabetes Association.

A Community Tree Planting Memorial Service will be planned according to the Obijway/Oji-Cree culture and Traditions of the community.


As directed by the Province of Ontario and the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, the attendance is restricted to 30% capacity or less and a record of attendance must be maintained. We, at Résidence funéraire Fawcett Funeral Home, presently restrict the maximum attendees to 14 at the funeral home and 30 outside the funeral home. Wearing of masks or face coverings by everyone and maintaining social distancing of 6 feet is mandatory for those attending.

To send sympathy gifts to the family or plant a tree in memory of William Magiskan, please visit our tribute store.


You can still show your support by planting a memorial tree in the memory of William Magiskan


Heart and Stroke Foundation
110-1525 Carling Avenue, Ottawa ON K1Z 8R9

Canadian Diabetes Association
1400-522 University Ave, Toronto ON M5G 2R5,
Tel: 1-800 BANTING (226-8464)

© 2021 Résidence Funéraire Fawcett Funeral Home Inc.. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy