Venue change for Dene Elder Muriel Betsina’s funeral

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

The funeral for Muriel Betsina, a beloved Elder of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, will now take place at the city’s St Patrick’s high school on Friday.

Muriel passed away on Monday. A visitation open to the public was being held on Thursday at Yellowknife’s McKenna Funeral Home on Forrest Drive, from 2pm till 4pm and 6pm till 8pm.

The funeral home said a Friday funeral mass at St Patrick’s Church would now be held instead at École St Patrick High School from 1pm.

A reception is planned at the Ndilo gym following the funeral.



On Tuesday, Leela Gilday – Yellowknife’s Juno award-winning Dene singer-songwriter – remembered Muriel as a “cornerstone of her family and community” and a woman who embodied all the qualities of a traditional Dene Elder.

“She was so kind and quick to laugh and so knowledgeable, and yet she didn’t flaunt that over everybody. She wanted to take care of everyone,” Gilday said by phone from Vancouver.

Muriel was a mother of seven children and had more than 40 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Born in 1944 and raised along the Great Bear River, she was taken to residential school in Fort Resolution before moving to the North Slave in 1963.

She made her home in Ndilo and passed away peacefully surrounded by family, her son and Chief of Ndilo Ernest Betsina told Cabin Radio.



“My mother was a matriarch and also an Elder, highly respected,” said Chief Betsina. “My mother will be missed beyond measures and our family is grieving for her loss.”

Gilday had known Muriel since she was a baby and last saw her at a hide tanning camp run by Dene Nahjo.

“She seemed so strong and in her element, tanning away and scraping flesh off a hide,” said Gilday, who said she had been shocked by news of Muriel’s passing as she had seemed so strong.

“I’m really upset that she’s not around any more, but I know she’s in spirit world and she believed in heaven,” Gilday said.

“She definitely loved to feed everyone and cook. I hope that she’s up there feeding everyone, right away.”

GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help with funeral costs.

Ollie Williams contributed reporting.