Relatives of the late Elder Fred Simba, of Kakisa Lake, say only very few people can attend his funeral while Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are in place.
In a heartfelt message passed to Cabin Radio, Fred’s family described their “deep sadness” at having to adapt his funeral to take those restrictions into account.
Only immediate family will be able to attend, the Simba family said, adding: “We will not be allowing anyone into the community during this time.”
Fred is understood to have been the subject of an RCMP report published on Monday. Police said a 79-year-old man had passed away in the area of Tathlina Lake, south of Kakisa.
“Evidence suggests the man was standing on a frozen pond when the ice broke and he fell into the water,” an RCMP spokesperson wrote on Monday.
“We are so sorry,” Simba family members said in a statement outlining the need for a small funeral party, “as our uncle has many family and friends out there.”
The statement continued: “It breaks our heart to do this but it is mandatory at this time, no social gatherings.
“After this virus passes and we are safe to hold functions, we will host a memorial service to honour our uncle at a later date.”
The family said details of that service would be announced “when the time comes.”
Fred Simba will be remembered as an expert fisherman and environmental advocate for the region.
In an Up Here Magazine article last year, the owners of Yellowknife restaurant Bullocks Bistro praised him for the pickerel catch he supplied.
Simba had “been fishing his whole entire life,” said bistro co-owner Jo-Ann Martin. “He brings us our pickerel. He’s amazing.”
Simba took part in a range of reports studying the environment around his family, particularly the health of lake watersheds and fish stocks.
The NWT’s chief public health officer has strongly advised people not to gather during the pandemic in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the Covid-19 disease.
Dr Kami Kandola had specifically singled out funerals in her warnings as an example of a gathering that poses a high risk.
Dr Kandola is expected to issue an order specifically banning gatherings within the next week.