Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House to speak about a respected elder who passed away in Fort Simpson. I am lucky to be able to use the eulogy provided by the family. Those close to her knew her as Dinah.
Mr. Speaker, Diane Edwards made a difference to the people she touched, loved, and worked with. Diane Mary Edwards was born on November 1st, 1946, in Fort Liard. Her parents were William and Marguerite Edwards. After finishing high school at Akaitcho Hall in Yellowknife in 1968, Diane moved back to Fort Simpson. She was an active member of the community. Sports were her venue especially curling and softball which were very popular and well organized at the time. In the days without internet or cell phones, the whole community would be involved with special events such as tournaments, a source of entertainment and a common place to meet for everyone. Diane was very active as a participant or in the crowd cheering loudly for the teams.
Diane started her government career 1970 at early age. She has one of the single longest public service career in the NWT, with over 40 years of meritorious employment as a member of the public service of the GNWT. This is quite an achievement. Diane would always go the extra mile performing her duties at health and social services with a focus on excellence.
Diane is the definition of a working-class unsung hero who didn't look for accolades and acknowledgements. She would find comfort in humility, charity, and performing her duties at an above par.
Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to meet and know Diane. She was an amazing person who could help you with whatever task you asked. When Diane retired from the government, they were hard pressed to find an award for 45 plus years of service. HR had to create a special plaque just for her as no one had ever retired with 48 years of service. What an accomplishment.
Diane was always a treasure trove of information and when HQ needed something, Diane was their go-to and always found what they were looking for. If somebody from HQ came to Simpson, they always wanted to put the face to the voice.
Diane Mary Edwards passed on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 1:49 p.m., surrounded by family and friends who loved her dearly. Her heavenly journey began, and she is now free from the bonds that held her back on earth. She's taking her place with our ancestors, and she will live in our memories forever.
Mr. Speaker, I have several messages that were shared at the service from people from the region, and I have added them to my statement here. I would like to have them deemed as read. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. She'll be sadly missed.
Family stories - When Ama passed in Oct 1999, Diane became very close with her sister Madeline, who also lived in Fort Simpson. And over time the two sisters became inseparable. Two peas in a pod, as Diane was the provider and protector for Ama in a supportive role throughout her life. It was a natural transition for Diane to provide that same support for her older sister Madeline, a widow living independently in her own home.
The two had many adventures together - Greyhound bus trips to Edmonton, gardening, berry picking, camping, and fishing were high on the list of things to do. They always found time for some "entertainment" and very well respected from all diverse groups of people in the community.
I went on a few road trips with Diane as well. She loved to travel but kept her routine simple and exact. She was a creature of habit. She only liked to shop at Army and Navy, stay in fancy hotels like the Macdonald Hotel in Edmonton. And later, after the Army and Navy store closed down on 97th Street, she would go to Kingsway. We went to Klondike Days together with my kids'. Boy, she watched out for them at all times, especially her favorite Brendan.
After Madeline passed in Oct 2018, it was a transitional moment for Diane. Her health started to wane, and her memory lapses became more frequent. Unfortunately this was foretelling her future.
With a series of ailments and accidents, Diane became bedridden and could no longer communicate normally. The fact that Diane was able to survive for as long is a true testament to stubbornness and love of life.
Kathy Tsetso shared about the first time she met Diane was at a curling tournament at the old community hall, way back in 1975. Diane asked her to curl on her team, so she did. Kathy never curled before and was shy since she had only been in Simpson for three months. They won the women's event. She was so pumped and grateful for being asked to curl by Diane. Side fact, this was when she met Albert at the Saturday night curling dance for the first time and they never looked back. Kathy credits Diane for getting her to come out and for Diane being a bit of a matchmaker too.
Amy - Diane... Lady Di as we would call her. Di was one of the kindest people I worked with who would bend over backwards for those she genuinely cared about, and I consider myself one of the lucky ones who got to be a part of her journey. I valued our special friendship, from our little break cruises around town, lengthy talks about when she was a little girl, berry picking in Liard, her love for curling, her travels with her sister, the special gifts she would bring in for me whether it be her niece's fresh bannock bread to share with me, or a new pair of socks or mitts she just finished. If I am honest, she was pretty choosy when it came to picking friends or people gave her time and trust to.
She would always make me laugh. Daily I would find myself in stitches with her spicy demeaned as she did not hide her true feelings well when she was not fond of someone. But if she was fond of you, she would give her shirt right off her back. I will cherish all the moments. Di is loved beyond measure and will be missed deeply by all those who had the pleasure of knowing her.
Cindy - I wish we were home a day earlier so that I can pay my respects to Diane. Diane was the sweetest and also could be a little feisty if she did not like you, lol.
I still have two pairs of knitted slippers that she made me. When we worked together, our office would do a gift exchange and if she did not get my name, she would always tell me to stop by, she had something for me, and I would get a pair of slippers. I loved exchanging gifts with her. Use to enjoy our Saturday outings with Sandra. Rest in Peace.
Deb - I am honoured and privileged to have had the years spent with Diane in my life. They were filled with adventure, our many trips to Fort Liard. Great stories. She was an amazing source of knowledge and always willing to share. Her sense of humour brought tears of laughter. Her heart was big enough to offer individual attention to every person that came to her for help through her role with health and social services. Diane made a difference in the lives of many. Her kindness and positivity will leave an in-wavering legacy in the community of Fort Simpson and many others whose lives she touched. Always missed, never forgotten. Go rest on that high mountain.
Diane's niece Shirley Ann Bertrand of Fort Liard sent me the following about Diane and her life in Fort Liard and she spoke with elders who remembered her.
The elders in Fort Liard remember Dinah. Here are some words they shared. "Dinah knew who we were" one said. Another shared a short story. "I trapped with Dinah's Dad (William Edwards). We used to trap beyond Fisherman Lake in the mountains. Dinah was born in Fort Liard and raised there until she was maybe eight or nine years old. Dinah's mom and Dinah lived in a house her dad built. After his passing, Dinah and her mom moved to Fort Simpson. Where her mom had family.
Even after she left to attend school, Dinah would return to Fort Liard time and time again. Dinah kept in touch with the elders, relatives, friends, including her sister Vera Bertrand and her family. Although a private person, Dinah would be known for working many years for Fort Simpson Social Services.
She also had a collection of photos. Dinah loved to go fishing and would be seen fishing at the mouth of the Petitot River. Dinah also liked to pick berries. Mahsi for sharing your life with us Dinah. Rest in Peace.
These are our memories of her from people of Fort Liard.
Diane loved Fort Liard and her family members there. So many times, she talked about going back and building a house on the lot she owned there but always something else came first. She was a devoted daughter, sister, auntie, friend, and co-worker to many.
When Diane's father passed away, they moved to Fort Simpson to be closer to her family William, Alice, and Johnny Tanche. The Tanche family have fond memories of their Auntie Diane. Diane was one special person in our lives, and she watched our children and grandchildren grow up. They all have memories, which I'm sure they will cherish. There is not one person in our family who did not call her Auntie. She touched their hearts in her own witty, kind-hearted person way. Auntie Diane will be missed.
She was so close to our family; she was Auntie to everyone.
She loved spoiling the kids and often bought them treats if she saw them in the store. One of the grandchildren said that their best memories of Diane were watching Animal Kingdom at Diane's while mom and my aunties played bingo. Diane and her mom looked after Cathy when she was young and loved her like their own. Later Diane would often tell Cathy that if she didn't let her go, she would have never married Tod.
She will be sadly missed but not forgotten.