Tuktoyaktuk gets ready to lay to rest Elder Persis Gruben; funeral for 101-year-old to be held Wednesday

Beloved Tuk Elder Persis Gruben (Photo courtesy of Chuck Gruben)

The Member of the Legislative Assembly for Nanukput is among those in Tuktoyaktuk who are continuing to mourn but are also celebrating the life of Elder Persis Gruben.

She died last Sunday at the astonishing age of 101.

MLA and long-time Tuk resident Jackie Jacobson says he knew Persis his whole life.

“She was so knowledgeable. She would talk to me about her family and where they came from.  She knew all there was to know about Tuk and the MacKenzie Delta in general. She’s really going to be missed,” Jacobson said. “She would always tell us stories when we went to visit her. It was always a blessing to see her.”

Jacobson says her health was good right up until the end, adding that she continued to live on her own in her own home.

He adds her husband died some decades ago.

Jacobson says things have really changed since Persis was a young women, pointing out that the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk didn’t even really exist until Persis was in her 50s.

Persis died in her sleep according to her youngest son Chuck Gruben.

It came a day after well-wishers had gathered at her place for a belated 101st birthday party.

Chuck told the CBC that Persis was born as the eldest of several children on the Peel River in Fort McPherson, N.W.T., on Oct. 20, 1918.

She was of Gwich’in ancestry.

A funeral for Persis will be held next Wednesday – Dec. 11 at 2 p.m., at Kitti Hall in Tuktoyaktuk.

Jacobson said he will skip that day’s legislative assembly session in order to attend the funeral, both as the MLA for the region, and as a friend.

About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.