Byron LeClair during the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce’s June 4 APEX Aboriginal Partnership Exchange gathering in Thunder Bay in 2015. Photo by: Rick Garrick.

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE, Nipissing First Nation (July 28, 2017)—It is with a heavy heart that Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee announces the sudden passing of a true economic development contributor from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, Byron LeClair.

“My deepest condolences go to his wife Rhonda, all of his children and grandchildren, but also to his friends, business partners, and fellow community members,” expressed Grand Chief. “He will surely be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”

LeClair was a husband, father, and an active and productive member of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, having served on Chief and Council as counselor for eight years, and best known for his contributions in the economic development sector. LeClair served as the Director of Energy Projects for his community, as well as the President for Kagiano Power Corporation, a community-owned energy company. Additionally, he served as President and CEO of Pic River Energy and Forestry, a community owned resource-development company.

With over 20 years of experience, LeClair also ventured off into the economic development sector on his own having established two companies. First Nations Resource Management, where he supplied industry clients with Indigenous business development support advice to mining and industry clients, and Origin Operators and Recruitment, an aboriginal labour supply company established with his partner, Melissa Hardy-Giles/Paul Giles, that provides mining and construction companies with a single window solution for aboriginal employment engagement.

LeClair has also contributed to the development of provincial energy procurement policies, including Ontario’s site release policy, and helped his community form a cooperative partnership with five other regional First Nations who are partners in a transmission development project.

“It is such a tragic loss of a real economic development dynamo,” stated Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. “Byron did so much for his community whether he was serving on Chief and Council or trying to grow the economic development locally or on a larger scale. He did so much for the economic development in his community from hydro projects, to forestry, to mining.  He was truly one of the most dynamic economic development advocates I have ever seen.”

In addition to leaving behind his contributions to the economic development sector, LeClair was also known for his Aboriginal Rights advocacy, having spoken at many conferences on topics related to Indigenous people, resources development projects and the benefits of First Nation business partnerships.

Family, friends and the community of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg can share his journey to the spirit world by visiting him at his home in Pic River beginning Sunday, July 30, at 1:00pm. The wake will begin Monday, July 31 evening followed by a traditional ceremony on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 at 10:00 am at the Pic River Community Hall. Burial will follow the service in the Pic River cemetery.