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First Nation chief dies after cancer fight

Jun 07 2012

Toquaht First Nation hereditary chief Bert Mack was a gentle man with a strong sense of integrity, said his lifelong friend Wayne Coulson.

Mack, 89, died peacefully Sunday at the Coulson family home in Port Alberni after battling cancer. "He was very kind and so honourable," said Coulson, owner of Coulson Group.

Mack became hereditary chief when he was 18 and led his community for 67 years. He named his daughter, Anne Mack, as his successor in 2009.

Mack led his community with a strong vision and was devoted to his wife, Lillian, and three daughters, Patricia, Sandra and Anne, Coulson said.

"We hosted the family for their 60th wedding anniversary and 89th birthday just a few weeks ago," he said.

Mack, a logger and fisherman, was one of the signators to the Maa-nulth Treaty in 2011.

"This is just one more reason to be proud to be Nuu-chah-nulth," he said at the time.

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president Cliff Atleo, Mack's nephew, said Mack represented the best of hereditary chief teachings. Toquaht was one of the few First Nations to retain the hereditary, rather than elected, system of leadership, Atleo said.

A traditional ceremony will be held today from 10.30 a.m. until sundown at the Alberni Athletic Hall, Kendall Avenue, Port Alberni.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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