People will be celebrating the life of Noel Starblanket Thursday and Friday.

The well-known Indigenous leader passed away on Monday at the age of 72.

The First Nations University of Canada is hosting a celebration of life this Thursday afternoon in Regina and a funeral will be held in Lebret the next day.

Former Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations chief Lawrence Joseph says he got to know Starblanket over the years working in politics and he was always a good source of advice.

“Now when I was chief, he was one of my sounding boards on certain issues,” he says. “Very well schooled in what you call the university of hard knocks in politics and usually tells you what to watch out for and that type of thing. So, he was very helpful in that respect.”

In the late 1970s, Starblanket was twice elected as chief of the National Indian Brotherhood, the forerunner of the Assembly of First Nations.

At the age of 24, he was also one of the youngest elected chiefs in Canada in 1971.

“It was a very different time and you had to be outspoken to make issues recognized not only in government but even the media,” Joseph says. “The media didn’t have any time for us because we were not newsworthy. And he made it a point to actually make these controversial statements that got attention.”

Starblanket also served as elder-in-residence at the University of Regina.

His death was caused by complications due to diabetes.

(PHOTO: Noel Starblanket. Photo courtesy of