Former NAN Grand Chief Wally McKay Honoured for 55 Years of Service at Leadership Gala

WINNIPEG, MB: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN)’s Executive Council joined with leadership from across the country to recognize former Grand Chief and NAN Elder Wallace ‘Wally’ McKay for his years of leadership during the 2023 Leadership Gala in Winnipeg last night. Yesterday’s gala was organized to show of strength and unity, bringing together former and current leaders to honour a well-respected visionary and leader, while committing to a strong future for First Nations citizens.

“Wally has dedicated his life to strengthening our Nation, our institutions, and our people, and we were honoured to celebrate his distinguished career. He was laying the groundwork of what we know as Nishnawbe Aski Nation and has served our communities with great integrity and honour for decades,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “Wally experienced the horrors of the Indian Residential School system and endured racism throughout his education and career. Through perseverance and determination, he maintained his language and culture and went on to play an integral role in NAN’s development. Miigwetch to our dear friend and mentor. May the Creator continue to guide you on your life’s journey, and we are so very blessed to have you continue to work with us.”

A member of Sachigo Lake First Nation, Wally McKay severed as NAN Grand Chief from 1981-1983 and Ontario Regional Chief and Vice-Chief of the Assembly of First Nations from 1982-1984. Throughout his 55-year career he has served the people of Nishnawbe Aski in many roles including:

  • Assisted in the drafting of the Declaration of Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, serving official notice to Canada and Ontario of the rights and principles under Treaty No. 9 of people and their lands, while serving as Vice-President to then-President Andrew Rickard of Grand Council Treaty No. 9, which became Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
  • Launched the legal case to ensure the protection of Treaty rights and relationship with the Crown, which resulted in a ruling upholding the Crown-Treaty relationship by the London High Court in England.
  • Assisted with the restructuring of the National Indian Brotherhood into the Assembly of First Nations.
  • Advocated and supported the development of Nishnawbe Aski Nation Police Service as one of the first Indigenous police services under First Nation control.

Wally is a strong advocate for the implementation of Treaty rights for NAN First Nations. He has worked with many communities to develop systems of self government based on First Nations jurisdiction. Most recently, he worked as a consultant on First Nations governance and policing issues, as well as Health Transformation. As a respected NAN Elder, he continues to advise the NAN Executive Council and First Nation leadership on many issues and priorities facing our communities.

For more information please contact:
Michael Heintzman,
Director of Communications
Cell: (807) 621-2790

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