**Updated** Mi'kmaq Grand Council Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy dies at 76

**Updated at 1:23 p.m.**

A man being described as the Dalai Lama of the Mi'kmaq nation has died in Cape Breton at the age of 76.

Mi'kmaq Grand Council Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy of Waycobah First Nation died Thursday afternoon at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

Waycobah Chief Rod Googoo says Sylliboy was the spiritual leader and head of state of the Mi'kmaq nation stretching through all of Atlantic Canada as well as Quebec and parts of Maine.

He says Sylliboy was a friend and mentor and his death leaves a big void.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said in a statement that Sylliboy's passing is a loss that will be felt across Atlantic Canada.

"Grand Chief Sylliboy was a steadfast leader for his people, a wise mentor, and a highly respected partner in our treaty relationship with the Mi'kmaq," said McNeil.

— with files from The Canadian Press