Nathan ‘Nate’ McGillivary passed away suddenly on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at the age of 68. He was born in The Pas, Manitoba at St. Anthony’s Hospital on February 8th, 1949. Nathan was the son of Alfred George McGillivary and Miriam Jane McGillivary. Nathan was a long-time resident of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Manitoba.
Nathan’s greatest joy was spending time with his family. He was a loving husband to Ida. A dear father to Nathan Jr. and Diana (Dee Dee) and a very proud grandfather to Dakota, Adam and Rayden, whom he loved very much. He would travel great distances at a drop of a hat to support and watch his grandchildren participate in their sporting and cultural events. His grandson Adam is named after him. Adam is a mirror image of his grandfather. They possess very similar traits, particularly in the area of public speaking. They have overcome many obstacles and much adversity to become members of their sports teams. Nathan had said, “My involvement and participation in high school sports was my saving grace from being at the Residential School.”
At the young age of seven years old, Nathan attended the McKay Residential School in Dauphin, Manitoba until he graduated from grade twelve. It was from this experience he came to realize the importance of our rights as Indigenous people and the wrongs that were done to our people. As a Residential School survivor, he worked with Phil Fontaine and colleagues at the provincial level to bring the Residential School compensation discussions to the table. During his time at McKay Residential School, Nathan excelled in many sports, such as basketball and football teams only to name a few. He said, “I was often the only Native guy that made these teams.” Aside from obtaining his education at DCTI, he excelled as an athlete in many sports, such as being an excellent soccer goal keeper for the Reserve 11’s and The Pas Twin Motors Men’s fastball (3rd/1st baseman). Nathan always talked about his hockey tournaments with The Pas Blues and The Pas Maroons.
Nathan was at one time an Assistant for the Deputy Minister of Northern Affairs for the Province of Manitoba. He was also an Instructor at UCN (formerly known as Keewatin Community College). Nathan also served as a Master of Ceremonies for Opaskwayak Indian Days and chaired numerous meetings at the local, regional, provincial and national level.
Nathan also had fond recollections of his days at Manitoba Indian Brotherhood where he held the position of Vice-President in the North West Region. Through this active participation, he kept up the fight for the rights of OCN and other First Nations as well. If Nathan said he was going somewhere to lend solidarity support to a fellow First Nation, he would go. For instance, he travelled with a group of supporters to the Burnt Church Crisis in New Brunswick. He knew that any violation of Indigenous rights in Canada would affect other First Nation communities that would have a lasting impact on our rights and the rights of our future generations. Nathan had the opportunity to be part of the team that rejected the Meech Lake Accord. He related the story of the time Chief Traverse climbed a pole during the protest. He always had a good laugh about that incident.
Nathan was involved in the affairs and administration in the community of OCN. He was a former Councillor with the Opaskwayak Cree Nation for three terms and held many positions with OCN throughout his life.
Nathan could foresee the bigger picture in all matters and issues that he advocated and believed in. He would plan and organize many events and gatherings that supported great causes that related to Indigenous people across Canada. The matter closest to his heart was The Dakota Case – Bill C-31. Section 6-2 of the Indian Act affects our future generations, so to create awareness for all people affected by Bill C-31, he had organized The Walk for Survival. A group consisting of youth and supporters walked the entire way on a 30-day journey that started here in OCN and ended in Vancouver, B.C. There were signs from above that protected all the participants during the walk. This was an achievement Nathan was very proud of. Nathan was very thankful to those that helped in bringing the awareness to the forefront and the tireless work he did with Michael Jerch and Doctor Brightman. Nathan also had the full support from the Late Francis Flett who also knew the effects of Bill C-31 to the Indigenous people.
Nathan made so many friends and has touched so many people’s lives across Canada, young and old. Throughout his political career, Nathan was a gifted-speaker in the Cree and English language and an excellent Interpreter. He was a great mentor and strongly believed in the revitalization of our cultural beliefs and traditions. Nathan was also the founding member of the Cree Nation Gathering and would travel in the summer to the destinations wherever the Cree Gathering was held. Nathan was very passionate and dedicated to the well-being of our future generations, the Elders and our community’s current state. He also had a strong belief in the Youth and had recruited as many young people as he could for events, such as The Unity Run. One of his major accomplishments was his direct participation in the acquisition of the Blizzard Jr. A Hockey team. He was a Co-founding member and was approached by key members to help with the ‘Save the Blizzard’ campaign. They turned to him for advice and guidance because they knew he was well known outside the community and very influential in finding the support the team needed. Most recently, he was invited to share his knowledge at one of the classrooms at Kelsey School Division and expressed his enjoyment of sharing his Indigenous knowledge and life experience in Residential School.
When the summer days had come, Nathan would get anxious because he enjoyed pow-wows (especially to watch his grandchildren dance), outdoor camping and would look forward to his favorite summer pastime: a game of horseshoes. You could also find him sitting in his backyard day or evening visiting with family and friends around a bonfire. It was also a place where he had private talks to the young people and others seeking advice on personal matters.
Nathan is survived by his loving wife Ida, his children Nathan Jr. and Diana (Cam); grandchildren Dakota, Adam and Rayden. His brothers Francis (late Roberta) McGillivary, Stan (Rosalind) McGillivary; sisters Angela (late Richard) Palmer, Sandra Neufeld (Steinbach), Phyllis McGillivary (Edmonton); nieces and nephews April, Clifford, Mark, Angela, Vernon, Terrance, Byron, Derek, Daniel, Katrina, Derek, Jessie, Danielle, Jeffrey, Travis, Jason, Kristal, Jamie, Crystal, Keenan, Stephanie, Steven, Cooper, Austin, Troy, Reynold, Sadie-Lee; uncles and aunts Philip Dorion, Lydia Constant-Clark, Sylvia Waytiuk, Caroline Ross, Rose Kadachuk, Art Fitzner, Sisters-in Law Diane Burns, Sandra Melnyk (Don), Maureen Umpherville (Robert), Darlene Fontaine (Bertram); Brothers-in-Law Ray Burns, Randy Burns and Bill Burns (Betty); God children, Sonny Stevens, Raymond Burns Jr., Larry Young, Andrea Constant, Jeanette Head, and Lauren Melnyk, nieces and nephews, and many, many close friends and relatives throughout Indian Country. He always acknowledged and cared for his relatives from his Dad’s side of the family and his Mom’s side of the family.
Nathan was predeceased by his father Alfred; Mother Miriam McGillivary (nee Dorion); Infant brother Arthur; Half-brother Norman Beaupre; Grandfather Arthur Dorion; Aunt Gertie Guiboche; Uncle Raymond Lathlin Sr.; Victoria Merasty; Mother-in-Law Clara Burns; Father-in-Law Robert Burns; Uncle Charlie Burns; Auntie Ann Burns; and many other relatives.
Saturday, January 27, 2018 & Sunday, January 28, 2018
Margaret Henderson Parish Hall 6:00 p.m.
Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Opaskwayak, Manitoba
Adam Kahpeaysewat Francis McGillivary Bertram Fontaine
Stan McGillivary Gilbert Beardy Raymond Burns, Sr.
Don Melynk Robert Umpherville
Alex Ahenakew Errol Burns Richard Danielson Bill Burns Randy Burns Marty Clemons Tony Head
OCN Elders, Michael Jerch, Dr. Robert Brightman, OCN Veterans, Unity Run, OCN Blizzard Jr. A Hockey Organization, past Chief and Council members, Cree Gathering Group, The Walk for Survival Group
All Nathan’s Nieces, Nephews, Family and Friends
Monday, January 29, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.
OCN Veteran’s Hall with Rev. Gloria Lavallee presiding
Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Opaskwayak, Manitoba
Order of Service
Opening Sentences – Page 589
1. Hymn: #66 Cree
Eulogy – Frank Whitehead
The Collect - Page 577
Gathering of the Community – Page 591
Proclamation of the Word
2. Hymn: Gospel – “God has Taken an Angel Home”
1st Reading – Isaiah 61: v 1 - 3 – Gabby Umpherville
2nd Reading – Psalm 23 – Ray Burns, Jr.
3rd Reading – Matthew 18: v 21 - 23 – Tahni Fontaine
4th Reading – The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John 13:
v 31 – 35 – Lauren Melnyk
3. Hymn: Gospel – “Best Angel”
Reflection – Reverend Gloria Lavallee
Prayers of the People – Page 593
Lord’s Prayer – Page 594
4. Tribute Song: – “Go Rest High on that Mountain” -
Mike Jebb, Jr., Don Melnyk and Norman Cook
Commendation and Blessing – Page 595
5. Hymn: #132 Cree – “God Be With You Until We Meet Again”
Traditional Song – Burial Site
St. Michael’s All Angels Cemetery
Nathan’s family invites everyone to a reception and time of fellowship at OCN Veteran’s Hall.