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Inuvik elder dedicated to teaching Inuvialuktun dies

Emma Dick taught at East Three Elementary in Inuvik until her retirement at the age of 91.

Emma Dick taught at East Three Elementary in Inuvik until her retirement at the age of 91

Emma Dick taught at East Three Elementary in Inuvik until her retirement at the age of 91. (Marc Winkler/CBC)

An elder recognized for her efforts to teach Inuvialuktun has died.

Emma Dick taught at East Three Elementary in Inuvik until her retirement at the age of 91.

The Inuvialuit elder had a long career of teaching.

She told CBC in 2016 that she got married in 1942, and both she and her husband got jobs at schools in Inuvik.

Dick started off as a classroom assistant in a kindergarten class, eventually going to Fort Smith to train and get her diploma and certificate.

According to an interview with Dick published by the Inuvialuit Communications Society on YouTube, she was born in 1926 in the Mackenzie Delta area. She said her family followed a traditional lifestyle, hunting and trapping. She said she first lived on Banks Island, but her parents and grandparents were from Alaska.

Into her 90s, she kept a close connection to the land at her family's bush camp in the Mackenzie Delta, where they built a cabin in the 1970s.

'She loved her dancing'

"Emma was one of the ladies that just about everybody within the Beaufort Delta area knew," said Gerry Kisoun, Dick's nephew.

"She was always so friendly with each and every body. She was also a very giving lady."

Kisoun said his aunt was passionate about her language and being on the land. He said he would always remember her work ethic.

"She said, 'You want to do something, go to work. You want something to happen, go to work and make it happen.'"

Kisoun added that Dick could always be found on the dance floor: "She loved her dancing," he said. "Auntie Emma was one of the best jiggers around one time … as long as Emma was able to make it, she would be there."

A post announcing Dick's death on the Inuvialuit Communications Society's Facebook page has dozens of condolences posted for the elder, with many talking about her contributions and kindness.

A date hasn't been set for a funeral service, but Kisoun said he expects it will be sometime next week.
 

With files from Mackenzie Scott

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