With a heavy heart I am sorry to say that Caroline Bjorklund passed away recently. Caroline, a Dene woman from Churchill, Manitoba, will not be forgotten. Her sweet heart, sense of humor, big smile and mission in life as an ambassador for the Dene people will stand out in my mind forever. I have known Caroline since I started guiding in Churchill in 2004 as she did evening talks for our groups, highlighting both the beauty of her ancestor’s ability to live off the land, and the travesty that their people endured by the Canadian Government in the 1950’s-1970’s when they were stripped of their traditional lifestyle and forced to conform to modern society. Her story was sad, often eliciting tears from listeners and herself as it was told. Her courageous honesty during these talks helped her heal, as well as helped preserve the cultural legacy of the Sayisi Dene people through the dying art of storytelling.
I overslept and missed my flight out of Winnipeg when my aurora season was over and was stuck in Winnipeg for an extra day. I realized that this was a blessing in disguise as I could go visit Caroline who was in the Intensive care unit at a nearby hospital, battling pneumonia. I was able to visit with her and her daughter, hold her hand, and get a few more of the hugs that I love so much.
Goodbye Caroline. We will all miss you dearly, and think of you every time we see the aurora dance over Churchill. I know you got the warmest of welcomes up there, and got lots of hugs from your family and admirers in the skies. Love, Brad.