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Former longtime Council chief Martin Leborgne passed away on Tuesday evening following a brief illness. He was 65 years old.

Leborgne served six terms on the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, being first elected in 2000. Over the years, he worked with the Iroquois Caucus on the protection of hunting rights. He also contributed to the development of accessible and affordable housing programs for Kahnawa’kehró:non.

“He was truly a ‘man of the people,’ as he worked hardest to improve the lives of those less fortunate,” said Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton in a press release on Wednesday.  “He was a very passionate Council Chief and always stuck to his principles. It’s very hard to believe that he was sitting at the table with us just three short months ago.”

Before his time on council, Leborgne was an iron worker and also owned a recycling business for many years.

Former chief Bobby Patton was a good friend of Martin and viewed him as his mentor.

“Martin was one of a kind. He was a strong-minded individual, he spoke his mind; he fought hard for the people, he believed in his community,” Patton said.

“He’s going to be greatly missed, that’s for sure.”

Leborgne is survived by his wife Leatrice, his children and their families, and many friends in Kahnawà:ke.