Melvin Edward Benson (“Wapunatew”), beloved father of Cory (Trina), Claire, Kristoffer, Cashton and Georgia, grandfather to Tenaya, Kienna, and Dominic; passed away on Thursday, September 16, 2021 at the age of 72 years in Calgary, Alberta.
Mel was First Nations from Beaver Lake Cree Nation, born in Imperial Mills, Alberta on February 14th, 1949.
Mel’s first job was at the age of 10 building fish boxes for five cents a box. He began his career at the Edmonton Friendship Centre, then as an instructor at Grant McEwan University with their inaugural Native Studies Program. He then branched into working with the Secretary of State, before shifting his career into the Oil & Gas Industry. He had a long career with Imperial Oil before transferring to Exxon with international projects in Chad, Cameroon, Russia, Korea amongst other locations. When Mel return to Canada, he started up a number of Oil & Gas exploration company's. Upon retirement, Mel joined the Suncor Board of Directors and was the first Indigenous person and longest serving board member on the TSX. He was able to assist Suncor in great strides throughout the First Nations communities for over 21 years. He has served on numerous boards and volunteered unselfishly.
Mel accomplished much through his life and was the recipient of many awards and honours. He was honoured by his National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Business and Commerce and Aboriginal Business Lifetime Achievement Award. His natural leadership, mentorship, resilience, self determination and generosity, with individuals, family, friends, community and his Nation is something we are all inspired by. He had a passion for capacity building, mentorship and education of our Indigenous Youth, their future. He always lead by example. Mel enjoyed the finer things in life including: visiting friends and family, laughter, live music, great wine and incredible food. Anyone who knew Mel, has a good story and great memories of their time together. He loved the outdoors; was an avid fisherman, hunter, horseman, adventurer and traveler. Mel’s favourite saying was “quality is doing it right the first time, to avoid the cost of rework.”
He is survived by his five sisters (Marge, Bertha, Rose, Marlene, and Lavon) and his seven brothers (Mike, Don, Len, Allen, Garry, Willie, and Paul), and many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles. Mel was predeceased by his parents James and Lena. He had great love for his family.
Viewing Services - Lac La Biche:
Viewing and respects prior to funeral will be at MISSION VIEW FUNERAL CHAPEL (133 Sentinel Drive, Lac La Biche, AB) Friday September 24th, 2021 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm for the public.
A private viewing for extended family is available for Friday September 24th, 2021 from 3:00pm to 4:00pm.
Celebration of Life:
3pm-430pm, Saturday Sept 25th at the Bold Centre - Devon Room
8702 91 Avenue Lac La Biche
430pm-515pm at Willow Park Cemetery
Celebration of Life Feast:
6pm at the Bold Centre - Devon Room
8702 91 Ave. Lac La Biche
Please enjoy the best wine, food and memories in lieu of sending flowers. Condolences, memories and photos can also be shared with email@example.com or 403-463-9279. All COVID restrictions for health and safety will be adhered to. Please complete the AHS self assessment prior to attending.