Tom Charles, a well known tracker from Lac La Ronge, Saskatchewan has died.
According to his daughter, Charles was surrounded by family in Lac La Ronge, Sask.
Charles was also a host on the APTN series, The Other Side, which airs in 11 countries worldwide.
Charles’ role on the show was of a spirit guide for paranormal investigations.
Jeff Richards who worked with him for six seasons on the show says he will miss his mentor and friend.
“He was always willing just to share knowledge and you know and beyond that personally the role that he played as mentor and teacher but also protector,” Richard says. “He really kept me and our program and our team protected and safe. He was always willing to lead us in ceremony or to smudge us if need be at a moments notice.
“If it was 3 o’clock in the morning and we needed Tom for whatever reason he was there. He took that role very, very seriously. It’s something I am forever grateful for.”
Charles participated on many search and rescues in Saskatchewan’s north.
Prince Albert Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte says Charles was “larger than life.”
“Tom was a well-respected Traditional Knowledge Keeper who made his home in Lac La Ronge, yet he was larger than life in many other ways. With his strong ties to the land and understanding of the natural world, Tom was dedicated to his work finding our community’s loved ones for more than four decades, as well as playing a key role as our Elder and Team Leader since the inception of our search, rescue, and recovery team, ” says Hardlotte.
Lac LaRonge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson says Charles will be missed by many.
“Our community and leadership are in mourning after we lost a very respected and admired Elder Tom Charles yesterday. He fought a long hard battle with cancer, and he will be dearly missed by many,” says Cook-Searson. “His spiritual gifts helped him through 293 search and rescue efforts, only 15 of which went unsolved. Tracker Tom would drop everything he was doing when called upon for any search, in any condition, in any part of the province, whether he knew the person or not. That’s who he was.
“He loved to help everyone, and he brought closure and healing to so many families with his gifts and compassion.”
Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says he was someone they could count on when someone needed rescuing.
“His spiritual gifts and knowledge of the lands and waters were well-known across our traditional territories, and he was often called upon when someone would need rescuing, or a search was being conducted. Even in his last months, battling this illness, he was still participating in searches in his community,” says Cameron.
“He was a very respected elder, a friend to many, and his skills and knowledge will be deeply missed.”
Richards shares one of his favourite memories of Charles while on location for the TV series, The Other Side.
“We were in Ontario and it was pouring rain that day and I just remember Tom actually went to a vendor and he bought ten or fifteen umbrellas and literally just went up and down the streets of Ottawa finding people who needed an umbrella and handing out umbrella’s to anyone who needed one,“ he says.
“He was always willing to impart knowledge about everything from his time spent tracking and finding people in the wilderness to artwork. He was an accomplished artist. he worked in film and TV on a number of other productions aside if our show. He was so very, very generous and willing to help people out I know their were people who were connected to the program in ways that were both public and private.”
Charles passed away Tuesday morning.