Trilingual Funeral in the North

The town shuts down when there is a funeral. Flags are at half mast, and schools and businesses are closed. A family member of one of Andy’s students passed away on route by medi-vac to Montreal. He was only in his 40s, and died of a heart attack.

The funeral was held at the Anglican church – a functional structure, with skylights to let in sunlight (or just plain light). The altar was carved in patterns of the Christian cross, an igloo and a teepee.

Family members spoke at the casket. It was pretty much like any Protestant or Jewish funeral. The exception was that the priest’s (minister’s?) sermon was translated into Cree and Inuktitut as he spoke. I recognized the melodies of traditional hymns sung in Cree.

A family member sang a traditional homecoming song accompanied by his drum. A favourite song of the deceased was also sung, accompanied by a guitar.

It was raining.

People headed to the burial grounds and would be going to a feast afterwards.

We headed home. I poured myself a glass of wine and Andy opened a can of beer.

We had our own little wake.


2 thoughts on “Trilingual Funeral in the North

  1. I’ve always felt that simple, heart felt ceremonies are a better way to honour someone who has passed than some of the extravagances I’ve experienced…sad to die at such a young age…

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