Support from northerners like you keeps our journalism alive. Sign up here.



Yellowknives Dene Elder Muriel Betsina passes away

Muriel Betsina
Muriel Betsina. Pat Kane/Pat Kane Photo

Muriel Betsina, a pillar of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and the broader North Slave, has passed away.

Muriel’s passing was confirmed by staff at the Yellowknives Dene First Nation on Monday afternoon.

Her son, Chief Ernest Betsina of Ndilo, told Cabin Radio: “My mother passed away peacefully on July 22 at Stanton Hospital. She was surrounded by her loving family.

“My mother was a matriarch and also an Elder, highly respected,” said Chief Betsina. “She found her greatest joy in her seven children and more than 40 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“My mother will be missed beyond measures and our family is grieving for her loss.”

Details of a funeral and wake for Muriel Betsina are to be announced shortly, Chief Betsina said. A GoFundMe fundraiser to assist with costs for the funeral and celebration of life has been established.

Chief Betsina thanked residents for their many messages of support.

Born in 1944, Muriel grew up along the Great Bear River before being taken to residential school in Fort Resolution, where she remained for eight years.

She moved to the North Slave and rejoined her family in 1963, making her longtime home in Ndilo.

“I felt like I was back in the community again. I felt the kindness of the people,” she told Edge magazine in 2015, remembering that time.

As news of her passing was shared online, friends and relatives remembered Muriel for her spirit, passion for her community, and generosity – in particular her habit of sharing food whenever the opportunity arose.

“If there’s a drum dance, or a feast, or a death in the family – I don’t know what it is – always put an extra dish out,” she told the Windspeaker newspaper in 1994.

Muriel Betsina is remembered for her generosity and belief in her community. Angela Gzowski/Angela Gzowski Photography

“There are always extra people so I always cook extra food. The hunters always give me extra caribou and I’m thankful. Someone is always offering something, all the time.”

One Yellowknife resident, remembering Muriel, wrote: “Guaranteed, she’s making everyone bannock up in heaven right now.”

Emelie Peacock contributed reporting.