District Chief Roderick Francis, an original founding father of The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, has passed away.
“It is with great sadness that The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq announces a great loss not only to its organization and board but to all Mi’kma’ki- with the passing of long serving district Chief Roderick Francis, of Pictou Landing First Nation,” The CMM said in a press release.
Francis or Roddie as he was affectionately known as, is the last surviving of the original founders of the CMM. During his tenure as board member with CMM, Francis brought a younger perspective to CMM as well as his commitment and traditional connection to Mother Earth.
Born and raised in the Pictou Landing Mi’kmaw Community, Francis had been an advocate for the protection of Mi’kmaw rights. A well- known fisherman, he could often be seen navigating his boat through the Pictou Harbour and the Northumberland Strait on his way to harvesting lobster.
One of 11 children born to the late Dennis Francis and Alice (Knockwood), Francis served as both chief and councillor for the Pictou Landing Band. From 1975 to 1981he served four consecutive terms as band councillor. In 1985 he was elected to serve his first term as chief and went on to serve three more consecutive terms before deciding to not re-offer as chief in 1993. He was elected to serve once again as councillor in 1993, 1999, 2001, 2003. All told, his political experience spans over four decades and over 25 years of serving his community.
Prior to his time as chief, Francis worked with the late chief, Raymond Francis, and Daniel MacDonald on the Boat Harbour legal claim. The CMM says without his leadership and tenacity during this period, the lucrative
settlement that was managed for the Pictou Landing Band Members would not have materialized.
In 2008, The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq bestowed Chief Roddie with the honorary position of District Chief, the position offers Mi’kmaw wisdom and guidance to the CMM through input and ensures that all topics, decisions, programs respect Mi’kmaw culture and reflect realities of Mi’kmaq life.
“Through his position as District Chief for CMM, Chief Roddie has always had the best interests of all Mi’kmaq in his sights. He has been a proven leader, a remarkable gentleman and a great provider for his family. I have had the pleasure to know Roddie for most of my life, we were friends and I always respected his opinion, whether we agreed or not, at our board table. He was humble and through his leadership steered his community though some very difficult waters and picked up where former Chief Raymond Francis left off to see that the Federal Government was held accountable to the creation of Boat Harbour,” said Dr. Don M. Julien, executive director of The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq.
“He was very generous with all his contributions to Mi’kma’ki. He will be greatly missed by all of those who had the pleasure to know and love him.”