Former Bloc MP Bernard Cleary, strong defender of Indigenous rights, has died at 83

Bernard Cleary, a former MP for the Louis-Saint-Laurent Riding Québécois Block, died. He was 83 years old.

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Cleary's daughter Chantal confirmed her death on CBC News on Sunday.

Originally from Mashteuiatsh, a reserve of the First Innu Pekuakamiulnuatsh Nation in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, he was known as a strong defender of the rights of indigenous peoples.

According to a 2004 profile in Ottawa's The Hill Times, Cleary was the first indigenous deputy to be elected in Quebec and the first Innu person to be elected in Canada.

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He served as a member of Parliament for the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent in the Capitale-Nationale region from 2004 to 2006.

Early in his career, Cleary worked as a journalist at the newspaper Le Soleil in Quebec City, before becoming news director at Télé-Capitale.

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He also taught journalism at the Laval University in Quebec City.

Cleary died surrounded by loved ones in Lévis, Que., On July 27. In social media publications, family members said his death came after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Ghislain Picard, regional head of the First Nations Assembly for Quebec and Labrador, responded to his death, saying he often consulted Cleary for his "vast experience".

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