[The following message of condolence was released by Canadian Muslims on the passing of Elder Dr. Dave Courchene Jr. who founded The Turtle Lodge, an internationally-recognized centre that shares Indigenous knowledge and teachings. He died peacefully at his home at Sagkeeng First Nation on Wednesday, December 8th, 2021].
Our highly respected friend, Nitamabit/Nii Gaani Aki Inini, Elder Dr. Dave Courchene Jr. began his journey to the next world on December 8th, 2021. We offer our most sincere condolences to his family and all the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island as you mourn the loss of this wise and visionary spiritual leader.
We recognize and honor Elder Dr. Dave Courchene’s life-long service to Indigenous Peoples globally and Mother Earth, as well as his work to fulfill the dream and vision of The Turtle Lodge to awaken, nurture and strengthen the Spirit in all peoples.
In 2010, Elder Dr. Dave Courchene Jr. extended a hand of friendship to Canadian Muslims and offered a proposal to develop a relationship of brotherhood and sisterhood between the Indigenous Peoples and Muslims - he placed great importance in developing this relationship with Muslims, who he regarded as a ‘people of the heart.’
An agreement titled, “Agreement Of Kii Zhay Otti Zi Win And Ukhuwa – An Agreement of The Spirit of Friendship, Kindness, Brotherhood/Sisterhood, Sharing And Gentleness,” between the two communities was signed on August 9th, 2010 and states that it ‘will act as a gateway to furthering a relationship of knowing each other, and supporting each other in the sharing of each other’s unique contributions to Canadian society, for the common good of all.’
“We all have to go back to the centre, to our hearts that hold the Spirit of the Truth,” he advised all on signing the agreement.
Elder Dave Courchene was a truly inspiring Spiritual leader, knowledge keeper, advocate and bridge builder. He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
Dear friend, your journey on Mother Earth has been to teach us that living truth means living in the spirit of Respect, Love, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility and Truth. We can attest that you have fulfilled this work and for this we are truly grateful.
Kitchi-miigwetch Nitamabit/Nii Gaani Aki Inini. May we honour your memory and legacy, and live up to our agreement. Ameen.
Dawood Zwink and Muneeb Nasir on behalf of the Indigenous-Muslim Forum.
December 8th, 2021.