Eddie Dillon, a longtime leader for Tuktoyaktuk and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, has passed away, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) announced on Monday.
Eddie, who was the corporation’s secretary and treasurer, had been a presence on or around the corporation’s board for decades. He also served as mayor of Tuktoyaktuk and chair of the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation.
Duane Smith, the IRC’s chair and chief executive, said Eddie’s loss was “very difficult” and his thoughts were with the Dillon family.
“IRC hoped to continue to rely on his strength, integrity, and sharp political and business acumen for much, much longer,” said Smith.
“Eddie Dillon demanded results and concrete details for the benefit of all Inuvialuit and never shied from the really tough discussions, then ensured in the end we all came together.
“He reminded us of our responsibilities, what was most important, and to face our challenges as one.”
Eddie became known as a fierce defender of his community. In 1985, he took part in a protest against the voyage of United States Coast Guard vessel Polar Sea, an icebreaker that crossed the Northwest Passage without formal approval from the Canadian government.
By the mid-1990s, as mayor of Tuktoyaktuk, he welcomed the likes of Metallica, Hole, and Veruca Salt to the community for a show organized as a publicity stunt by the brewer Molson.
Dillon dismissed concerns that the brewery’s event sent the wrong message about alcohol in the NWT.
“I wish more people would pick up on the positive,” he told Windspeaker magazine at the time.
“We have a problem [with alcoholism] but so does everyone else in Canada. We’ve had that problem for a long time now and we’re going to have it tomorrow, when everyone’s gone.
“But now, at least, Tuk is well-known.”
Lucy Dillon, Eddie’s wife, passed away in 2016.
Delivering a tribute to Lucy that year, then-MLA for Nunakput Herb Nakimayak said the two had married in 1972, had five girls together, and adopted a son.
“Eddie continuously served Inuvialuit and his community in many leadership roles,” said the IRC in a statement on its website.
“We will remember Eddie Dillon and grieve his loss – remembering his advice, the principles which he valued – and forge ahead with this backing and encouragement as we serve and uphold the best interests of Inuvialuit.”