Absolum Mamakwa, a respected elder and Anglican known by many in Northern Ontario, died on Aug. 6 at the age of 73.
“Absolum served his community in many functions throughout his life,” said a statement issued by the Kingfisher Lake Nation. “He promoted and practiced the spirit of volunteering for the betterment of his people. He was able to connect strongly with his people because of his positive outlook on life and sense of humour.”
One of his sons, Chief James Mamakwa, described his father as “a builder” who led the construction of Kingfisher Lake’s St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Mission House and the Big Beaver Bible Camp. “He was a remarkable man. I don’t know if I can fill his shoes,” he said in a telephone interview. (Chief James Mamakwa is married to Lydia Mamakwa, the first Anglican area bishop for Northern Ontario, diocese of Keewatin.)
Before his father died of complications from pneumonia, he had delegated the task of building an Anglican Cathedral at Kingfisher Lake to his community, said Chief Mamkwa. He added that his father had learned the trades as a young man, when he worked in a sawmill.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Kingfisher Lake School gymnasium on Aug. 10 to pay respects to the elder Mamakwa. He had been an advisor to many regional organizations, and he often used the local radio station to impart messages on the need for strong family values.
Archbishop David Ashdown, bishop of the diocese of Keewatin and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land, officiated the funeral service.
Absolum Mamakwa is survived by his wife, Bessie, four sons and three daughters.