'The biggest heart': Family and community honour the life of Alex Pelletier

The family, friends and community members who knew Alex Pelletier are reflecting on his life that revolved around giving to others.

Pelletier died on Monday after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 70-years-old.

He was known for giving back to people in and around Regina by cooking, sharing stories or lending an ear to whoever needed it.

“He was a giver. He was a person known to be kind, have the biggest heart, give anything to anybody at any time if they asked,” Tobi Pelletier, Alex’s daughter, said.

Tobi explained that Pelletier did not have a lot when he was growing up, so he saw himself in those who needed help and that’s why he was so eager to give.

One of his main projects over the last few years was his bagged lunch program. When shelters and community organizations shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pelletier stepped up to help those who were no longer getting meals.

“His big heart and his mind thought; ‘Well those people, what are they going to eat? Where are they going to go?’” Tobi said.

He took it upon himself to put together meals in his kitchen and would deliver them to people around the city.

He was also known around his apartment building for cooking.

“Some of [his neighbours] were single, they didn’t have any family, so at Christmas time, Mother’s Day and certain holidays, some of them wouldn’t have anybody to celebrate with,” Tobi said. “He would come up here, make food and take the food down to them. Or he would set up a big meal downstairs and invite everybody down.”

His cooking did not stop there, as Pelletier volunteered in the kitchen at Carmichael Outreach for many years.

“He became someone we could turn to as an elder in the community to help advise those in our Life Skills programs,” a spokesperson from Carmichael Outreach said in a statement. “His friendship, guidance, wisdom and smile will be missed.”

Tobi said Pelletier inherited his love for cooking and his culture from his mother.

As a proud two-spirited, Metis man, Pelletier also loved to share stories with community members of all ages. Sharing his Michif language was also important to him.

“He wanted to continue to speak that language and to ensure that we, as a community, were able to revive our language. He took great pride in that,” Wendy Gervais, the regional representative for western region 3 for Metis Nation Saskatchewan, said. “He wanted to make sure that people shared in our language, in our culture, in the knowledge and understanding of who we were.”

Gervais, who knew Pelletier for years, said he should be remembered for his healing abilities and his passion for giving.

“He always had time to listen to community, time to give back,” she explained. “No matter what Alex was going through in life, he always had that smile - his beautiful smile, his vibrant eyes. It lifted you up.”

His family said he didn’t care about people’s age, ethnicity or gender. He just loved bringing people together.

A public service will be held at St. Mary’s Parish Hall in Regina on Thursday.

He will be laid to rest on the weekend in his home community of St. Madeline, Manitoba.

His family launched a GoFundMe page to help with the expenses of getting him to the burial.

Moving forward, his daughter said she hopes someone helps fill the void that will be felt in the community.

“Maybe someone that he helped, it impacted them in some way and hopefully they’ll be able to go on and do what he did. I don’t know if they’ll be able to do it as big,” she said through tears and a smile.

“He’s just going to be very, very, deeply missed and his non-presence is going to be felt by a lot of people.”