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Statement - The Late Cece Hodgson-McCauley

 

Honourable colleagues, I rise in the chamber today to pay tribute to the founding and honorary grand chief of the Inuvik Dene Band, Cece Hodgson-McCauley, who passed away Monday, March 12, at the age of 95 at her home in Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, surrounded by her loving family.

Cece was born on the shores of Great Bear Lake in 1922 and lived her life as a proud northerner. Along with her sister Alice and brother John, she attended Sacred Heart Mission School in Fort Providence. She spent 10 years at the residential school, and Cece stated many times that those were the best years of her life.

Cece was an inspiration for all people. She was the first female chief in the Northwest Territories and a former President of the Norman Wells Land Corporation. Cece also worked until the very end writing her informative and outspoken column for News/North, always advocating for the much-needed Mackenzie Valley Highway project extension that she had worked on for 20 years.

Cece was never afraid to speak her mind. She reminded us that sometimes to see change you need to make your voice heard. When writing about her experience at the residential school she attended, she said:

We were well taken care of. We ate nutritious food. The girls were taught how to sew and knit. We had an education learning math, reading and writing.

When her column was met with criticism from some elders, she had the courage to stand by her writings and her own positive experiences. Cece recently wrote her final article for News/North, and in it she acknowledged how she had a wonderful life and felt blessed for her family and for the things she was able to do with her time on earth.

Cece and her courageous and loving personality will be missed by many and will have a special place in my heart forever. This past year she was my strength, my mentor and my dear friend. She was adamant that I continue to be strong and continue to speak the whole truth about the residential schools.

I was in Norman Wells to talk with Cece about her council of elders and their discussions of her positive message and stories of residential schools, and in her memory I will continue my work here.

I would like to end the tribute with the last sentence of Cece’s final article in the News/North and how much of a caring person she really was: “Until next time, all my love to everyone, Cece.”