While traveling to Inuvik (NWT) we pause at Tsiigehtchic, near the Mackenzie River.
We inquire about village history, and people direct us to Hyacinthe's home on a bluff
above the water. We share tea with him on his porch in the warmth of the early fall sunlight,
and he tells us of his life along the river and out on the land in the western arctic.
From CBC, Friday, September 08, 2006
Northern Canadian Aboriginal Leader Passes Away at 96
Hyacinthe Andre, a respected northern Canadian aboriginal Gwich'in elder in the Mackenzie Delta
region of the Northwest Territories, died Tuesday morning at the Inuvik Regional Hospital.
He was 96. Andre led the Gwichya Gwich'in of Tsiigehtchic, a hamlet of about 200 people located
on the Mackenzie River 1,061 kilometres north of Yellowknife, from 1942 to 1980.
Hyacinthe Andre received a lifetime achievement award last week from the Gwich'in Tribal Council.
The longest-serving Gwich'in chief, Andre was described by Gwich'in Tribal Council president
Fred Carmichael as one of the last remaining northern Canadian aboriginal traditional leaders.
"The youth wanted a youth centre," Carmichael recalled, "and he said, 'Okay you want a hall?
Okay, you come with me,' and he got them to cut some logs."
He added that Andre was full of traditional knowledge and used it to help his people.
"Today, too many people want everything on a silver platter," Carmichael said,
"but that wasn't his way."
Andre held many different jobs, including working as a cook on a mission boat along the
Mackenzie River in the 1920s, and running a coffee shop and a store in the early 1970s.
Andre was married to Eliza Sam and had 12 children.