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A Northern woman’s long life comes to a close

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Catherine William celebrating her 103rd birthday with balloons.
Catherine William celebrating her 103rd birthday with balloons.

On November 19, Catherine William died at Stuart Lake Hospital in Fort St. James, only two days after celebrating her 103rd birthday.

“Catherine had a wonderful birthday surrounded by family and friends,” says Amanda Johnson, Head Nurse at Stuart Lake Hospital.

Northern Health offers its sincere condolences to Catherine’s family and friends. Her family has given permission for her biography, below, to be shared.

Catherine William was born on November 17, 1915 in Tache (also called Tachie), 60 kilometres northwest of Fort St. James. Her parents were Alphonse Mattice and his wife Eugenie Prince, and she had four brothers and three sisters. A member of the Tl’azt’en Nation, Catherine belonged to the Lusilyoo (Frog) Clan.

She was baptized at age seven in 1922, and religion was always a big part of her life. She always had a good word for everyone and would pray for people, regardless of the circumstance.

Catherine was a survivor of the Lejac residential school in Fraser Lake, and she often spoke about it, remembering the playroom there.

She was married for 50 years to Francis William, and together they had six children. Catherine was a home care worker, taking care of children from broken homes. Caring for people and keeping them safe was important to her: she was always the first one in line to volunteer to search for missing people.

Catherine was a resourceful woman who taught herself many skills, from crocheting gloves for her children to making fishing nets. She enjoying cooking, nature, and being a homemaker. Exploring the outdoors was also something she loved. Sam, her nephew (also a resident at Stuart Lake Hospital), remembers walking the back roads with Catherine and her husband on hunting and fishing expeditions.

Catherine passed away peacefully on November 19, and her funeral was held in Fort St. James on November 24.