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N.W.T. elder, storyteller Blondin dies at age 87

Northwest Territories elder and storyteller George Blondin, known best for preserving the stories of other Dene elders for future generations, died Saturday of a stroke. He was 87 years old.

Northwest Territories elder and storyteller George Blondin, known best for preserving the stories of other Dene elders for future generations, died Saturday of a stroke. He was 87 years old.

Behchoko-based Blondin had a long and varied career, travelling around the N.W.T. as a wilderness guide, journalist, miner and trapper.

He wrote regularly for the News North newspaper and has penned books on Dene history, spirituality, culture and legends.

Blondin also served as chief in Fort Franklin and chaired the Denendeh Elders Council and the Dene Cultural Institute.

Blondin was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 2003 for his devotion to preserving the heritage of his people.

His sister, Muriel Betsina, told CBC News that Blondin was also a mentor for her young boys, especially when the family was out on the land.

"A few times my boys got caught not doing the right work, and he started talking to them, you know, in a respectable way — in a way to say that, you know, 'When you're young you learn something, you have to work at it all the time,'" she said in an interview.

"I'm so proud that my boys listened to him … my children listened to him."

A funeral for Blondin is scheduled for Wednesday.

In 2007, the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation established the George Blondin Aboriginal Scholarship fund in Blondin's honour. It provides a biannual scholarship to university and college students from the Northwest Territories.

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