This Behchokǫ̀ man worked at the Northern Store for nearly 40 years. Now, he says goodbye

Freddie Lafferty wasn't just an employee at the store — he's a well-known figure, familiar to many in the community.

It won't be goodbye forever, he says — he'll still pop by to help out

Freddie Lafferty, of Behchokǫ̀, N.W.T., worked at the Northern Store for over three decades. (Loren McGinnis/CBC)

After more than three decades working at the Northern Store in Behchokǫ̀, N.W.T., Freddie Lafferty has retired.

The 65-year-old worked a total of 38 years, though when he first got started, he said he would only be there for "just a while," maybe four or five years.

"They said, 'if someday you leave, we're gonna miss you,'" Lafferty said. "I didn't know that 38 years was gonna come this fast."

Lafferty wasn't just an employee at the store — he's a community figure. People from the community, governments and schools would call on him to prepare food or supplies for them.

And, on top of helping customers find what they needed, he would also give directions to anyone asking him to point out places to go in the area.

"If they were hungry, then I'd tell them where to get hamburgers and fries, hot coffee, juice," Lafferty said.

"They liked that. And, I met so much people that I have never seen before from all different places and some are living here and the rest, they live faraway."

He also speaks Tłı̨chǫ to other speakers of the language while in the store.

Lafferty is a well-known figure in the community who served customers in two languages. (Loren McGinnis/CBC)

'I'll always be here'

On the day of his retirement party, there were also two graduations going on in the community, which meant on top of the community members who stopped by, he says people who didn't know he was retiring — including some from Yellowknife — popped by to congratulate him.

He says he may do some work around his house during his time off, like building a fence or working on his lawn.

Though he says he already misses working at the store, it isn't quite the end of his time there.

"I'll always be here. Even [on] my day off, I still come here and I still help them a lot," he said.

Even while giving CBC a tour of the store, he stopped for a few moments so he could help someone find what they were looking for.

"When I come back to the store," Lafferty said, "I'm still gonna do my other work I used to do, help people with the stuff that they need."

With files from Loren McGinnis