Community honours elders
Ndilo luncheon given for those 80 and older

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 22/99) - Dozens of elders, many children and others turned out to honour and pay respect to elders 80 years old and older at a luncheon at the Ndilo gymnasium.

The NWT Seniors Society first contacted Yellowknife North MLA Roy Erasmus.

Erasmus and the Yellowknives Dene then helped host a function after discussing ideas with the community about how to best honour area elders.

"Basically, we decided that we would invite all the elders to come and everyone else in the community," said Erasmus.

"Most of the older people aren't working so it was possible for them to come in the middle of the day."

NWT Commissioner Dan Marion was on hand to pay tribute to 12 elders from the Yellowknife area: Marie Betsina, 98; Philip Crapeau, 83; Frederick Erasmus, 80; Madeline Lennie, 80; Elise Liske, 81; Alexis Adam Mackenzie, 81; Michael Paper, 86; Rosalie Paper, 83; Sophie Potfighter, 89; Michel Sikyea, 98; Rose Sikyea, 94 and Catherine Turner, 85.

Marion gave a talk that was translated into Dogrib by Florence Erasmus.

"In all of our communities the elder is the foundation of the community so we owe a lot of respect towards them," Marion said.

"These elders are all strong people whose main purpose in life is to enjoy their family and pass on their wisdom to the new leaders of today."

Many children from Ndilo community school and the aboriginal headstart program were on hand to sing some songs for the elders.

Marion urged the children to respect the elders "for they will give you the knowledge about the past and the present in order that you create the future for your people."

Marion congratulated the elders for surviving life in the North, which he said was not always easy.

"Life in the old days was not easy. It was extremely hard. If you live in the communities you will hear people talk of how hard life was in the old days," he said.

"So the fact that they are with us we should appreciate even more."

Elder Jan Stirling was on hand and spoke briefly about wanting elders to contribute stories for a book called an illustrated history of Yellowknife, volume 2.

All the elders were given baseball caps and reusable bags for coming out for the turkey luncheon.

Erasmus then thanked area businesses that donated goods to the function such as Weaver and Devore Trading, Burns Foods and the Yellowknife Co-op.