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1942 - 2020

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Leonard (Len) George Flett after a long illness. He was our beloved friend, husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Len was born in Shamattawa, Manitoba, and was a proud member of the Big Trout Lake First Nation in Ontario. Because of his father's employment with the Hudson's Bay Company, his family lived in various areas during his childhood, eventually settling in Cumberland House, Saskatchewan. The second eldest of 14 children, he was sent away to school at age seven, returning home only on school holidays. Though he found it traumatic to be away from his family and reserve, he loved learning and was honoured to be valedictorian of his high school class. After graduation, he was hired by the Hudson's Bay Company. He worked for the Hudson Bay Company and The North West Company for his entire career, retiring as vice-president in 2005 after 42 years of service. He was the first Indigenous Canadian to achieve such a high status in the corporate world, and for this he received many accolades and awards, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Order of Manitoba, and the Order of Canada.
In his later years, he fulfilled a dream he had of documenting his unique Canadian experience, authoring the highly acclaimed memoir, From the Barren Lands. He loved writing and wrote almost until the end of his life; he had almost finished his second book, Ekosi, before he could no longer continue due to illness. Besides writing, Len enjoyed reading, travelling, playing guitar, watching documentaries, trying new restaurants, telling jokes, and most of all, spending time with his family. He was a beloved member of the community and will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
Len was predeceased by his parents, Abigail Beardy Flett and Horace Flett, and by his brothers, Glen and Brian. He is survived by his loving wife, Marguerite; his sisters, Islay, Linda, Georgina and Kimberly; his brothers, James, Frank, Don, Harold, Gerald, Alex and Ted; his daughters, Sandra Collier (Matt), Lynda-Gale, Geraldine Horbas (David), Amber Armitage (Trevor), Harmony Bertrand (Matt) and Allison Eddybouin (John); his grandchildren, Larry, Sadie, Nichole, Kevin, Jake, James, Sarah, Nathan, Kathleen, Kyle, Nolan, Elise, Dolph, Libby, Michelle, Mary Catherine, Thalia, John Henry, Thaddeus, Arveragus, Blaise, and Agnes; his great-grandchildren, Ashton, Astrid, Zak, Reggie, Dylan, Luke, Kayleen and Shane; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Due to Covid-19 there will be no memorial service at this time.
In lieu of flowers, gestures of condolence can take the form of a donation to Indspire.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Sep 26, 2020

Condolences & Memories (6 entries)

  • I first met Len on a bitterly cold day in late November 1969 on frozen Ebamet Lake in N.Ontario arriving from Pickle Lake by Cessna as a new clerk at the Fort Hope HBC Post of which Len was Manager. I lived with him and Josephine and their little girl Lynda in two bedroom quarters attached to the store .It was a tight squeeze and although it was wood stove for heat & cooking , with water drawn daily from the lake , it was the experience of a lifetime and the formation of a lifelong friendship. I was also fortunate having Len as a colleague & mentor for the following 50 plus years with HBC & TNWC. I will miss Lens great sense of humour , his kind and thoughtful guidance , his loyalty & friendship for over half a century . Rest in peace my old friend. - Posted by: Bill Moore (Friend ) on: Sep 30, 2020

  • Sincere condolences to the family. I so enjoyed Len's book: From the Barren Lands. - Posted by: Nora Lande (a non-related Flett family) on: Sep 28, 2020

  • My Dad is from the Red River Settlement. We are Metis. However, my Dad didn't tell me this important piece of our heritage until 2010. It wasn't until 'Uncle' Len wrote a book, From the Barren Lands, that I really began to understand my heritage line. In the few times I interacted with him, I can say he was always a kind soul, not to mention a walking history book for our family, AND, for Canada. I wish we had more time to share stories. Thank you for running your race so well, Uncle Len. You've empowered me to pick up the baton and run my race to a greater measure now. Big hugs to Margurite <3 -Crystal - Posted by: Crystal Lavallee (Third Cousin ) on: Sep 27, 2020

  • Len, you will be missed by more people than your humble spirit will ever know. I will forever remember you telling me why some stores would buy spruce boughs. Saying to me, how come I didn’t know why, then oh yah, you're from Churchill the most barren bleak space there is, no need for fields there. I benefited from your wisdom, and I valued our friendship. Farewell my friend. - Posted by: Dale Brydges (Friend & Coworker ) on: Sep 26, 2020

  • Deepest condolences to Marguerite and Len’s family. It was a honour to know, work and call Len a friend and he will be deeply missed. ((Hugs)) to all of you. Peggy Meiklejohn - Posted by: Peggy Meiklejohn (Friend ) on: Sep 26, 2020

  • First met Len 1965/6 in Buffalo Narrows, Sask. Len was at ile a la crosse at the time. Corresponded over the years about the north and HBC ....... Condolences to the family of his passing. Al MacGregor Armstrong, BC - Posted by: Al MacGregor (ex HBC) on: Sep 26, 2020

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