UOI OFFICES (Sept. 10, 2015) – Anishinabek today mourn the passing of storyteller, writer and educator who had devoted his career to the celebration and preservation of Anishinaabe heritage – Basil Johnston.
“He was a long-time friend who I played hockey with,” says Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. “He was a great story teller. Basil kept you captivated with his great oratory skills. He was also an excellent historian. This is a great loss.”
Johnston, who is a citizen of Chippewas of Nawash, was born in Wasauksing First Nation. He had written 25 books in English – including Ojibway Heritage and Ojibway Ceremonies — and five in Anishinaabemowin.
He was honoured with the Anishinabek Nation Debwewin Citation for excellence in storytelling in 2012. He spent 25 years at the Ethnology Department of the Royal Ontario Museum with a focus on Anishinaabe heritage – particularly on recording language and mythology.
Over the years, Johnston had received many honours. He was a recipient of the 2013 Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award, Order of Ontario, the 2004 National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Heritage and Spirituality and the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal. He received honourary doctorates from the University of Toronto, Laurentian University and Brandon University.