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Wise woman remembered

Jessica Gray
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 03/06) - One of the NWT's wisest women passed away last week, leaving behind many who learned from her vast knowledge of traditional life.

Sixty-four-year-old Helen Tobie, a Yellowknives Dene elder and Dettah resident, died in the early morning of Oct. 27, succumbing to breast cancer.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Sixty-four-year-old Helen Tobie succumbed to breast cancer in the early morning hours of Oct. 27. - NNSL file photo

Tobie was diagnosed with the disease in 2000.

The funeral was held at St. Patrick's Parish on 52nd Avenue, Monday.

Tobie's cousin, Mary Drybones nominated her for a 2005 Wise Women Award given by the NWT Status of Women Council.

The honour recognizes people who have made lasting contributions to their communities.

Drybones said Tobie will be remembered for her dedication to teaching younger generations.

"I know she used to do a lot of things like teach traditional knowledge," she said.

When asked how she felt about the award in 2005, Tobie replied: "You feel good. In my lifetime I stayed home and looked after my family. And I always tried to help, wherever it was needed."

Tobie was also recognized as the Yellowknives Dene First Nation Elder of the Year in 2004.

Her sister Rachel Crapeau said Tobie is remembered for her "generosity."

"She was always there for her family," she said.

Crapeau said the church and community hall were full with people from Yellowknife, Behchoko (Rae-Edzo) and Lutsel K'e paying their respect.

Tobie leaves behind six sisters and one brother, her three adopted children, and eight grandchildren.

Lynn Brooks, an NWT Status of Women board member, said she remembers Tobie best for her good sense of humour and how she was able to speak Chipewyan, Dogrib and English fluently.

But alongside traditional knowledge, Tobie believed people shouldn't just stay focused on their culture.

"She always promoted having one foot in each world," she said.

"It's such a loss."

Tobie was also known for supporting young women in her community, and refusing to accept violence and abuse as part of her culture, said Brooks.