Living the century
Lifelong Kakisa resident celebrates 100 years of life -- at least

by Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

KAKISA (Oct 06/97) - There are elders, and then there is this elder.

As a little girl, Kakisa's Madeline Simba remembers the days when the Black Robes first arrived in the North.

And, while steeped in tradition and wisdom, she's also seen this world change as modernity slowly creeps forward.

Residents of Kakisa and around the Deh Cho took time out to celebrate this special woman and her life last weekend in Kakisa.

With at least five generations of her family on hand, and visits from important dignitaries like outgoing DCFN Grand Chief Gerald Antoine and incoming Grand Chief Michael Nadli, Simba was honored with a special mass and community feast this past weekend.

While many billed the event as a 100th birthday gathering, her great-granddaughter, Cecile Bonnetrouge, explained that she is actually older than 100.

"It's estimated she's actually 113," she said Saturday. "The first peoples who came were the Black Robes -- she remembers that. She says she was already a young woman."

"She's always lived in the Deh Cho... The only advice she always gives is to listen to your elders."

Another granddaughter, Nancy Bonnetrouge, took time out to share memories of her special relative.

"For me, it's a privilege," she said. "There's not too many around who can say they can share their grandmother with their grandson."

"When she talks to us, we listen. She always told us to love and care for others -- even those we don't know."

She also said she wanted to thank the community for coming out in force to honor her grandmother.

"It was just great," she said. "I can't say thank you enough for people coming from all over."

As for Madeline, she spent the service at a place of honor near the altar and received greetings from all who attended.