CHIEF ROBERT (BOBBY) KELLY (Kiniins–Owaasisii dtootem)

The people of the Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation and the family of Chief Robert (Bobby) Kelly announce with deep sadness and regret his sudden passing on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009 at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora, Ont.
Bobby was born on Lake of the Woods on July 25, 1947.
In this sorrowful time, we are brought together in loss and united in our respect for our chief and family member Bobby Kelly. Bobby was a man of many natural abilities and values. These abilities and values transcended into his vision for the community of Onigaming.
He was a man of great honesty and caring. He was modest and his respect for people was unconditional. KIIZHII’AATIZI.
First and foremost, Bobby was husband and partner to Delores Kelly (nee Tuesday) of Onigaming. They were united in marriage June 27, 1970 at the Nestor Falls Church. From this beautiful union came daughters Lori Lee Kelly (Darryl) and Candace (Candy) Dawn Kelly (Gerald), and son Stacey Robert Kelly (Verda).
Eventually came grandchildren Kimberly, Joshua, Jamie, Melissa, Shantay, Chenelle, Cadence, Cayden, Leah, Jeremy, Darryl, Cole, and Monica.
Predeceasing Bobby were his parents, Harry and Mary Kelly; brothers, Edward Kelly Sr., Jim H. Kelly, and George Kelly; sisters, Victoria Kelly and Alice Hoard; and sisters-in-law, Dorothy Kelly (Yerxa) and Lorna Kelly (Adams).
Sadly, Bobby also was predeceased by his granddaughter, Marissa.
Also surviving are his sister, Mary Kelly, brothers, Colin Kelly and John Jim Kelly (Catherine), as well as sister in-law, Corrine Kelly, all of Onigaming First Nation; and sisters-in-law, Janice, Lorna, and Rosie Tuesday and brothers-in-law, Bobby, Martin (Violet), Percy (Linda), and Brian Tuesday.
Also continuing to remember his loving memory will be cousins, nieces, and nephews too numerous to mention.
We will always love and cherish your memory. We are, and continue to be, proud of you.
Bobby Kelly was first elected as a band councillor serving the Onigaming band in 1970. He was the proud and dedicated chief of the Ojibways of Onigaming for eight terms (16 years) of this 13 terms (26 years) on council.
He had retired twice, yet each time was asked by the people to return and was re-elected.
We are saying goodbye to the chief, but never the leader.
In his lifetime Bobby also served the people of Onigaming in the capacity as director of education. Under his leadership, Sabaskong became home to the first band-controlled school in Canada, followed by a secondary school. His motivation for this school system was to ensure the children did not have to leave their community to receive their education.
He also oversaw the development and implementation of strong community-based strategies founded on principles of inherent rights and the protection of children. As a result, Onigaming is has many successful post-secondary graduates.
To those who knew Bobby, we will say he was a man of extreme humility. Bobby was responsible for various developments and led numerous projects within his home community and within the territory of Treaty #3. However, more often than not, Bobby did not seek any recognition for his accomplishments nor his roles since he always retained a sense of humbleness and chose to stand down from any accolades or acknowledgements.
Bobby Kelly balanced his values with his sense of pride in Onigaming because as a community, we know he was a leader who worked tirelessly and strived wholeheartedly in his commitment to his community and nation.
Equally, he had a profound connection to the land. Bobby spent time on the land as a hunter and a guide. He had a love of fishing, as well as being outdoors and life on the lake. However, no greater pleasure came from being “Papa” to his grandchildren.
The family wishes to acknowledge those longtime friends who also have come to know Bobby as we did. On his behalf, we also express appreciation for the staff of the Onigaming band. Bobby always believed the people came first.
A wake was held in the Onigaming School gymnasium on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009, followed by a traditional ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009 with elder Fred Kelly Sr. officiating with the assistance of Treaty #3 elders and lead Ogichitaakwe, Catherine Kelly.
The pallbearers were Chief Ken Skead, Chief Dave Paul, Chief Warren White, Chief Wesley Big George, Larry Indian, George Kakeway, Garry Kishiqueb, and Albert Hunter.
Honourary pallbearers were National Chief Phil Fontaine, Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse, Ogichitaakwe Diane M. Kelly, and Treaty #3 chiefs.
Due to his humility, his colleagues and family were never allowed to acknowledge him directly for his work. It is sad to say that at the time of his passing, we finally are given the opportunity to express the appreciation and solemn respect we hold dearly for the great man, kind leader, and beloved family member, Chief Bobby Kelly.
In memoriam donations may be made to the education scholarship trust set up in support of Onigaming students to pursuing academics in a post-secondary institute c/o Green Funeral Home, P.O. Box 427, Fort Frances, Ont., P9A 3M8.
Online condolences may be offered at
Kitchi Miigwich, Kiniins-Apichii Kizhaawenimiigo