A long-time chief of the Thunderchild First Nation has passed away.

Winston Weekusk, who served as chief of the band for 12 years and another 30 years as a band councillor, died last week.

Longtime friend and former FSIN chief Lawrence Joseph says he knew Weekusk for a long time from their days back in residential school.

Joseph says he used to follow Weekusk around with his guitar and believes that helped spark his love of music.

He adds his friend was quite humble and “not aggressive” — and as a chief, Weekusk “didn’t have to be the centre of attention”.

In 1976, Weekusk instituted Canada’s first Indian-controlled education program at Thunderchild.

In 1984, he also helped establish Canada’s first technology institute located on First Nations lands.

A few years later, he helped Thunderchild establish its own election, membership and finance laws — then later passed a constitution and foundation laws.

A funeral for the late chief was held on the reserve this afternoon.