It is with sadness that the QCT learned of the passing of Max Gros-Louis, Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat First Nation for 33 years, on Nov. 14, at age 89.
Gros-Louis’ given first name was Magella and his Wendat name was Oné Onti, which means “good paddler.” In his youth, he was a hunting, trapping and fishing guide on the land of his ancestors, according to an obituary prepared by Radio-Canada.
In the 1950s, Gros-Louis started his own business selling traditional handicrafts made by members of his community, setting up shop in a wooden teepee beside his house in Old Wendake.
Gros-Louis was first elected grand chief of the Huron-Wendat Nation in 1964. Between 1965 and 1976, he was successively a founding member, vice president and secretary-treasurer of the Association des Indiens du Québec.
In 1983, Gros-Louis represented Indigenous people living in Quebec at federal constitutional conferences on Indigenous law. As chief, he instituted a program to support entrepreneurship and create employment in his community.
He initially retired from political life in 1984, but by 1987 he was back, once more attending constitutional conferences. In 1994 he was re-elected grand chief, an office he held until 1996.
Gros-Louis served as director and vice-chief of the Assembly of First Nations for 10 years. For five years, he was secretary of the Indian Advisory Council, and he worked as an administrator of the Aboriginal Economic Development Program and a member of the Multiculturalism Council.
In collaboration with the Wendake council, Gros-Louis helped to establish the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, which has contributed greatly to the regional economy and the development of the Indigenous tourism industry in Quebec.
Gros-Louis was once more elected grand chief of the Huron-Wendat Nation in 2004 and remained in that position until 2008, when he was defeated by Konrad Sioui.
In 2012, a book about the life of Gros-Louis, written by Alain Bouchard, Max Gros-Louis: Le corbeau de Wendake, was published. In 2011, he was named an officer of the National Order of Quebec, and in 2015 he was admitted as an officer of the Order of Canada.
Additional sources: Wikipedia and QCT archives
This photo of Max Gros-Louis in full regalia appeared in a 2008 edition of the QCT. It depicts him welcoming Samuel de Champlain during Quebec City’s 400th-anniversary celebrations. (Photo from QCT archives)