MILLBROOK - Former Millbrook Chief Lawrence Paul, who led his community to economic prosperity and served as its iconic leader for 28 years, has died.
© File photo
Former Millbrook Chief Lawrence Paul is seen sitting at his desk at the band office near the end of his 28-year reign as the community's visionary leader.
Paul was 79.
"He just grew tired," said Chief Bob Gloade. "It was a matter of time. His body slowly started to diminish. He died naturally."
Paul died late Wednesday night in the Colchester East Hants Health Centre where he had been a patient since last November.
"His entire life was dedicated to serving other people," said Gloade, who added that his vision and fulfillment of the band's economic development and prosperity would unquestionably stand as Paul's legacy.
"That commitment, determination and drive that he was dedicated to, helped us be where we are at," Gloade said.
Paul's eldest son Jack remembered His father stubbornly battling from the early 1970s onward for the economic prosperity that would eventually become reality.
"He was a very smart person," he said.
Jack Paul said his father died peacefully just before 10 p.m. with his family at his side.
"All the family was there. He took one last breath and he just went. It was peacefully," he said.
The former chief was also fondly remembered by friends and political acquaintances.
"Lawrnce was very instrumental in bringing me here to help police the community back in 2006," said RCMP Const. Stuart Knockwood, a 22-year member of the force.
Besides being a "dear friend" to Knockwood's late father and former Indian Brook Chief John Knockwood, Paul also carried "unique bargaining skills" that he used to get his own way when fighting to improve his community.
"You knew what he wanted to do, his accomplishments were set straight," Knockwood said.
Scott Armstrong, MP for Colchester Musquodoboit Valley and a former educator, remembered Paul not only for his sharp leadership skills but also for commitment and dedication to education for the youth of his community.
"He really was a man of vision," Armstrong said. "I had a kind of special spot in my heart for the guy."
Lenore Zann, MLA for Truro Bible Hill Millbrook Salmon River, described the news of Paul's death as a "sad day" and said she was always impressed by his depth of caring for the people of Millbrook and other First Nations communtiies.
"Personally, I think he was a great visionary," she said.
"He was a fighter and he put Millbrook and the people first and I highly regarded him for that."
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, meanwhile, in a news release described the former chief as a "tireless champion of his community ... who dedicated his life to opening up economic opportunities for his people."
As a result of his commitment to improving the economy of Millbrook, McNeil said Paul was named one of Atlantic Canada's Top 50 CEOs by Atlantic Canada Business Magazine. He served as co-chair of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs and on numerous boards.
"I know his passing is a great loss for the whole community of Millbrook and the Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia. Lawrence Paul's legacy has left Millbrook stronger and made Nova Scotia a better place," McNeil said.