The Passing of William Mianscum: Leader, Colleague and Friend

All at the Cree School Board are saddened by the unexpected passing of William Mianscum on October 22, 2020. William was a prominent and dedicated leader in Eeyou Istchee, including at the Cree School Board. Over his decades of service to the CSB, he served as the first CEA for Mistissini, Director of Finance (1998-2003), Deputy Director General, School Commissioner for Mistissini, Chairperson of the Cree School Board (2003-2006), and Director of Human Resources (2007-2008).

Following his tenure as Chairperson, William continued to act as a trusted advisor for the CSB, playing an active role as the Co-Chairperson in the Working Group on Cree Education Act and providing valuable contributions to the Working Group on the Cree Component of Cree Education. In addition to his work at the CSB, William served as the Chief of the Cree Nation of Mistissini (1994- 1998) and worked as the CNG Coordinator on the Cree Governance file from 2009 until his passing.

While William’s educational background and knowledge made him a strong leader in his many positions, it was his wisdom, faith, and strong vision that left the strongest impression on many who worked alongside him. A receptive and encouraging presence, William listened carefully to others and was quick to see their potential. William’s optimism for the future of the Cree Nation, and dedication to working towards that vision, was widely admired in his community and the Cree Nation as a whole.

“I am surprised and deeply saddened to hear the news of William Mianscum’s passing,” said Abraham Jolly, Director General of the Cree School Board. “William had a strong impact on me, both as a colleague and a friend. His way of being reminded us of who we are – our Cree values, Cree worldview, the need to think outside the box. He was a gentle soul and a quiet person by nature, but his voice and ideas always had a big impact. Although he is no longer with us, I will continue to be inspired by his vision for the future and the strong faith he shared with all of us.”

CSB Deputy Director General of Operations, Caroline Mark, was greatly impacted by William’s legacy as well. “Many of us sought his guidance over the years, and the wisdom he shared could always be trusted. He had the courage to envision that we can embrace our culture and language while navigating the modern way of life, to build capacity for the Cree Nation.”

Longtime friend and past colleague, Bella Mianscum, describes him as an honest leader and good friend. “You could not ask for a better person to work with, or for. He was a very soft-spoken leader, and very honest. As a friend, he was gentle, loving and kind.”

Along with his professional achievements, William cared deeply for others and was a dedicated family man. Those who knew him outside of work remember his love of singing and songwriting, his great sense of humour, and his loyal nature.

We send our sincerest condolences to his surviving family: his wife, Cathy Gunner Mianscum, who was by always his side on business trips, his sons Bradley, Freddie, and Andrew, his daughters Kitty and Nanny, his brother Noah, and his many grandchildren. We also extend condolences to his friends, of which there were many, and his community of Mistissini.

A leader, colleague and friend will be greatly missed.

Cree School Board

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