A tribute to the late Josef Riche

I am just catching up on the terrible news of the tragic loss of my old friend Josef Riche, former Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, by drowning hypothermia a couple of days ago. Back in the 1980s and 90s, as I struggled to make images of his even more struggling community, Josef often had kind words of encouragement, advice and  humour. His kitchen could be a place of refuge.

While it has been many years since we spoke, it was clear even twenty years ago when I photographed his wedding (on what was then a very happy day-above) that he might very well someday become the wise and great leader for his people that he is now being recognized  to have become by such notable admirers,  as Newfoundland’s Premier, Kathy Dunderdale.  One can hear one of Josef’s historic speeches on CBC’s Labrador Morning tribute to Josef. If you know anything about Innu history, or indeed that of the First Peoples of this land, it should break your heart.

To Josef’s family and the people of the Innu Nation, my heart goes out to you all. I will remember Josef for his kind and generous spirit.

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