North loses a true gentleman
But his knowledge of traditional ways preserved
NNSL (Apr 13/98) - Last week in Cambridge Bay hundreds turned out to pay their final respects to a man many came to know as one of the North's true gentlemen.
Between 400 and 500 people, a mix of friends, family and Northern leaders, gathered to pay their last respects to John Maksagak, who fell victim to stomach cancer April 1. He was 73.
"His gentle approach to people will be greatly missed," said Peter Ernerk, deputy minister of heritage for the Nunavut government.
"Our elders are dying very fast and each time they die they take with them irreplaceable ancestral knowledge," noted Ernerk.
Not all of Maksagak's knowledge will go with him.
He was a member of Nunavut Historical Committee, which will be releasing a book on the ways of the Inuit before the arrival of Europeans.
"John's contribution was enormous," said Ernerk, who is also a member of the committee.
Maksagak was the founder of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and its first president.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Helen. Shortly after she was appointed commissioner of the NWT, in Dec. 1994, the couple moved from their long-time home of Cambridge Bay to Yellowknife.