Molloy will be remembered as a 'modern day Father of Confederation'
Recently-deceased lieutenant governor's funeral held Saturday in Saskatoon
W. Thomas Molloy will be remembered as a "modern day Father of Confederation." That's what National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde called Saskatchewan's recently-deceased lieutenant governor at his state funeral Saturday in Saskatoon.
Molloy died on July 2 at the age of 78.
He was appointed to the role in early 2018 and stepped away from his duties in May 2019 to undergo pancreatic cancer treatment.
Molloy is survived by his four children, Corinne, Jennifer, Alison and Kathryn along with 11 grandchildren. He is predeceased by his wife Alice.
"Tom would build relationships before trying to get things done," Bellegarde said at Molloy's funeral.
Molloy received his law degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1965 and was chancellor there from 2001 to 2007.
From there, Molloy became a distinguished lawyer and federal negotiator.
He was behind many modern agreements that shaped Canada, including acting as the federal negotiator who drew the borders of what we now call Nunavut. He went on to negotiate the Nisga'a treaty in British Columbia.
He also helped negotiate the Inuit of Northern Quebec Off-Shore, and the L'heidle T'enneh Sliammon final agreements.
Bellegarde said the family asked for a First Nation's name and an elder named him Wambli Kinyan, or Flying Eagle Man.
"When you are bestowed that name, it helps you," Bellegarde said. "Not only in this world, but when you travel to the next world. Because your relatives will call you by that name."
An estimated 800 people attended the funeral at Merlis Belsher Place and then watched as four Royal Canadian Air Force CT-155 Hawks did two flyovers in tribute to Molloy.
Premier Scott Moe said he didn't know Molloy for a long period of time, but found he had a "profound sense of empathy."
"He would always put himself in the shoes of the other person."
As an example, Moe said Molloy spent 10 days with an Inuit family when he was chief Federal Negotiator for Canada while putting together an agreement that led to the creation of Nunavut in 1999.
"He changed the nation with his leadership," Moe said.
Former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow first met Molloy at the U of S in the late 1950s.
He said they became good friends and stayed close throughout the years.
Romanow said while their opinions differed on subjects "Tom always voiced his opinions respectfully, even when others didn't."
And Molloy was one of the first people to talk about reconciliation with Indigenous people.
"Although his time was cut short, his deeds and words will live on to reach for justice and equality," Romanow said.
"Tom, you were truly an outstanding Canadian, a nation builder and a friend to all of us."
His daughter Corinne said her father's work meant everything to him, "yet our family was tight-knit."
When his wife Alice passed away, Corinne said Molloy stepped up as a single parent to take care of four teenage daughters.
Corinne said he instilled in them the joy of travelling in Canada, and then abroad.
His favourite place to travel was Canada because it had such diverse beauty, she said.
And though he spent much of his time travelling because of work, he was always a phone call or text away.
"It's not always the amount of time together, but the presence and love you bring to those moments."
Federal Justice Minister Ralph Goodale said Molloy was known for always wearing a suit and tie. But he remembered a country barbecue in Humboldt that Molloy attended.
"He came in blue jeans, pleated jeans with creases and cuffed," he joked.
Goodale said Molloy was the one person you could always count on to get the job done.
"Tom's work changed the face of Canada," Goodale said.
Greg Poelzer, a close family friend and a professor at the U of S, said Molloy gave him a number of lessons to live by such as: Be humble and don't take yourself too seriously; dress for the occasion, not for yourself, because other people matter; have a good sense of humour; remain a boy or girl at heart because the simple things matter the most; love your children as meat does salt; and children are often the most important teachers.
The public is invited to sign condolence books at the Legislative Building and Government House in Regina or City Hall in Saskatoon.
Flags on all provincial government buildings will be at half-mast until sunset Saturday.
Bellegarde said he saw Molloy as someone who had a "kindness, grace, dignity and warmth about him."