Lewis Debassige

Died: Mon., May 13, 2019


1:00 PM Wed., May 15, 2019
Location: M'Chigeeng Community Complex

Funeral Service

4:00 PM Fri., May 17, 2019
Location: MChigeeng Community Complex

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In Loving Memory of

Lewis Martin Joseph Debassige

September 28, 1946 - May 13, 2019

aged 72 years.

Lewis Debassige was a descendant of Gchi Ogaa and Niibaakhom, a proud Anishinaabe, a scholar, a warrior, an advocate, a teacher and an Elder. Lewis was a great man who lived his life to the fullest making lasting contributions to all aspects of life for the Anishinaabek.
In 1969, Lewis was a part of the “magnificent seven” – a group of young Anishinaabe scholars who worked together to counter the White Paper Policy introduced by the Federal Government.  This important work created the Red Paper Policy: Citizens Plus – designed to protect the sovereignty and rights of the Indigenous People. In 1972, Lewis co-authored Indian Control of Indian Education – a national policy document that is still applicable today.  Lewis was a visionary and an influential Anishinaabe warrior with values rooted in the oral teachings of his grandfathers and great grandfathers.  
Lewis was a founder of many institutions including Waubetek and Kenjgewin Teg. He was a lecturer at many Universities and Colleges. Lewis’ counsel was sought by many leaders over the decades across Turtle Island. Lewis had a deep love for his community of M’Chigeeng, a deep love for his family and was a huge sports enthusiast. He was a former Band Councillor and a Director of Education for several First Nations. He has many nieces, nephews and cousins that he was very proud of and often shared stories of their successes from the past, the present and future hopes and dreams. Lewis was a huge support to many people across Turtle Island and was always willing to share his knowledge and wisdom every chance he got. Lewis will most of all be remembered by his humble nature, his deep love and commitment to community and to the Anishinaabek, and his willingness to go on many adventures with his close friends, colleagues and family. Lewis will also be remembered for his articulate words, classy style, dance moves, his charm, his wit and sense of humour.  His legacy will continue to live on through his lifetime work, his family, his students, his many friends and the Anishinabek community.  In his final hours, he left with the following words: “Keep up the fight and I love you all”.

Born to Josette (nee Toulouse) and Lazare Debassige, at the old homestead in West Bay on September 28, 1946
Loving brother of Mike Debassige (Winnie “Pam” predeceased), of M'Chigeeng,  Julie Debassige of Toronto,
Christine McGregor (Robert) of Toronto
Marion Debassige (predeceased) (Douglas)
Margaret Manitowabi (predeceased)
Peter Debassige (predeceased) (Bessie)
and Martha Simmers (predeceased) (Bill) Survived by 19 Nieces and Nephews and 26 great nieces and nephews.
Services at M’Chigeeng Complex, visitation from 1pm Wednesday, Funeral Service at 4pm Friday followed by cremation.  Donations can be made to the Lewis Debassige Memorial Education Fund

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Condolence Booklet

Angela Becks
   Posted Tue May 14, 2019
Remembering Lewis..a love of learning, gentle, wise, kind, quietly and skillfully supporting his community

Patrick Nadjiwon
   Posted Tue May 14, 2019
Condolences to Lewis Debassige Family and Friends.
I was saddened to hear of your passing. It was an Honour to have met you and talked to you about many issues and especially our discussions on education.
Chi miigwetch Nokii Anishnabec
Baa Maa Pii Lewis

Stephanie Pyne
   Posted Wed May 15, 2019
Deepest condolences to the family and many friends of Lewis Debassige. I am honoured and grateful that I was able to work and visit with Luigi in person and over the phone. I have many notes jotted down from all of our talks to follow up on still, and will miss talking with my friend more than I can say. I know that I am not alone in this feeling. Baamaa pii Luigi ... Advising Elder of the Open Air University ... chi miigwetch, g'za giin and travel well!

Brent Debassige
   Posted Thu May 16, 2019
Lewis was one of the original architects of Indian Control of Indian Education. The lasting impact of his contribution toward the goal of educational sovereignty for First Nations education will live on for generations to come.

I always enjoyed listening to him speak. The depth and breadth of his knowledge spanned many decades of work in education on behalf of First Nations peoples. His battles with INAC were epic and contained many valuable lessons about our Anishinaabe responsibilities. Paraphrasing Lewis’ words: “never forget, we Anishinaabe have inherent rights that precede all else”.

Miigwetch, miigwetch, miigwetch to my friend, mentor, and elder, Lewis (Luigi) Debassige. You will be deeply missed.

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