Canada 'He was an extraordinary man': Sask. elder who cared for 350 foster children dies

02:25  08 august  2018
02:25  08 august  2018 Source:   cbc.ca

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He has buried about 10 children . Some died in his arms. Now, Bzeek spends long days and sleepless nights caring for a bedridden 6-year- old foster girl with a rare brain defect. She's blind and deaf. She has daily seizures.

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a group of people standing next to a person: Elder Walter Linklater, with wife, Maria, greets young people at a ceremony in Saskatoon.© CBC Elder Walter Linklater, with wife, Maria, greets young people at a ceremony in Saskatoon.

Elder Walter Linklater was near death, but it didn't stop him attending all four days of his annual culture camp last month.

He led the morning pipe ceremony and taught families about First Nations protocol. He hosted a session for the male participants about leading a good life.

Linklater and his wife Maria dedicated their lives to creating awareness of First Nations culture. Supporters say they also worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between Indigenous people and the rest of society.

They also raised an estimated 350 foster children, some with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and other conditions.

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"He was an extraordinary man," said niece Diane Littlecrow, one of the organizers of the cultural camp at Whitecap Dakota Nation last month.

Linklater, 79, died peacefully at home Sunday morning, according to his son, Michael.

"It was a very beautiful and tough day for our family. My dad was a legendary man who dedicated his life to his family and helping others. He will be greatly missed by many and will forever be in our hearts," Michael Linklater wrote on Facebook.

a man sitting on the ground: Chris Martell, father of Evander Daniels, shakes hands with First Nations elder Walter Linklater at a pipe ceremony.© Dan Zakreski/CBC Chris Martell, father of Evander Daniels, shakes hands with First Nations elder Walter Linklater at a pipe ceremony.

Funeral Wednesday at Whitecap

A wake is taking place at Whitecap Tuesday, with the funeral scheduled for Wednesday at 2 p.m. CST.

Condolences from dignitaries, friends and family flooded social media Tuesday.

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"He was a teacher, mentor, knowledge keeper and friend to thousands of us across Canada," Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said in a written statement.

Saskatoon Police Service Chief Troy Cooper said flags will be lowered tomorrow to honour Linklater.

"He was a patient teacher and he gave so much of himself even when he was tired and not feeling well. Thank you Walter, for guidance, education and friendship," Cooper posted on Facebook.

Saskatoon Public Schools cultural liaison officer Don Speidel said everyone who met Linklater was changed for the better.

"You were enlightened. You were encouraged. He had a big impact," said Speidel, who worked with the Linklaters at Wanuskewin Heritage Park and on other projects over the years.

Littlecrow said that, as the family prepares for Wednesday's funeral, she'll be thinking of the three simple principles which guided Linklater.

"Be kind. Love each other. Try to live a good life."

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