Four Generations of Devoted Service
In the Selkirk area and Interlake Since 1935
Elmer (Aylmer) Courchene
Standing Strong Man died peacefully in Pine Falls Primary Health Care Centre on December 5th,2018 in Pine Falls, Manitoba at the age of 83 with his son by his side.
Elmer is survived by his son, Randal Courchene; Gloria Courchene; granddaughters: Virginia, Brandy, Raven, Shannon, Cheyenne, Samantha and Chalynne; great-grandchildren Mackenzie, Madison “Montanna”, Calib, Logan, Crosby, Sawyer and Kailor; and numerous loving and supportive nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his wife Delores; son Ryley; parents Paul and Sarah Courchene and siblings; Walter, Bert, Eugene, Dave, Lawrence, Melvin, Stanley and a beloved sister.
Elmer was born on August 16,1936 in Sagkeeng First Nation to Sarah and Paul Courchene. During his childhood and adolescent years, he was sent to Fort Alexander Residential School and Le bret Indian Industrial Residential School. It was this difficult time in his life that fueled his compassion to advocate for his people. Then Elmer came home and played junior and senior hockey for the Pine Falls Paper Kings. Although he wasn’t the biggest player, he was known as the “ruggedest” defenseman. Elmer was the youngest player on the team and skated alongside of his late brother Eugene. He had potential to go farther in hockey but his heart had something else in mind for him. Elmer then decided to start a career in welding and went to school in Winnipeg for his studies. This was when he met his first true love Delores. She was in Winnipeg attending hair dressing school. The couple married in 1962 and welcomed their first son Randal. After moving all over Ontario, the family finally settled in Delores’s community Pic River First Nation (now known as Biigtigong Nishnaabeg). Elmer worked in the Marathon Paper Mill for years and then as Band Manager for Pic River from 1980-1988/89. Delores began working for the community as the NNDAP worker and started up A.A Meetings. Delores is remembered for her hard work and dedication for the drug and alcohol program in Pic River. Soon after, Elmer joined Delores to support the recovery and healing of the First Nation. This is when Elmer introduced the sacred sweat lodge to the Pic River community. The community of Pic River began to heal and recover from drugs and alcohol thanks to the compassion, kindness, love and dedication of Delores and Elmer Courchene. Elmer always remained supportive and committed to the people of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg over his lifetime. He was always thankful for the community for welcoming him and would always express his gratitude. This was only the beginning of his legacy. Creator had other plans in place for him, Elmer then made the decision to return to his home of Sagkeeng First Nation.
Elmer was an accomplished Spiritual Leader and a voice for Indigenous People and the environment. He will be often remembered for advocating for the young people. Elmer was known to advise on numerous projects such as the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Since 2005 Elmer was the resident Elder for the Assembly First Nations and provided advice and guidance to national chiefs Phil Fontaine, Shawn Atelo and Perry Bellegarde. He also served as an Elder for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Elmer also advised and created friendships with many other chiefs, dignitaries and First Nations across Turtle Island.
Although his journey here on Earth is over his legacy will live on. His love, knowledge, wisdom that we all carry in our heart must continue to be shared for the sake of the future generations of young people. Always walk with compassion, love and kindness. To always have hope right until the end. When you take care of you, Creator takes care of you.
Elmer Courchene will arrive at Sagkeeng’s First Nation Turtle Lodge December 6, 2018 for wake services. A memorial service will then take place Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 1:00 pm followed by a feast. As Elmer’s final wishes he will then travel home to Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, Ontario for his final resting place next to his son. Wake services will recommence December 10, 2018 at 12:00 pm at the community hall. His final services will be December 12th at 1:00 pm followed by a feast. A Chibi fire will be lite in his honor for the entire duration of his journey to the spirit world. There are numerous people the family would like to thank. To everyone who supported and took care of our beloved Shomie, please know that you are appreciated and we are thankful for you.
Condolences, pictures and videos may be left on his tribute wall at www.gilbartfuneralhome.com
Gilbart Funeral Home, Selkirk in care of arrangements.