I returned home from holidays this week to sad news - Nancy Buckley, Yellowknife's Fish Lady, passed away on December 4. She died suddenly, of natural causes. She was 46.
Nancy and her husband, Archie, own a fish plant on the edge of Jolliffe Island, just across the channel from the government wharf. On a winter's afternoon, I'd whip over there on my snowmobile to pick up fillets. Sometimes trout, sometimes jackfish, but more often than not I'd get their fabulous white fish. I'd clump up the steps of the plant - a prefab industrial building - and down the hall to the shop. Although people came and went all the time, I usually had to ring the bell. Through the door across the hall I'd see Nancy filleting. A slip of the knife, and she'd finish the one she was working on, then come help me.
I've always thought of Nancy a bit of a Flower Child - she had long straight hair, wore comfortable clothes and was always happy, always smiling. The Buckleys charge for fish by the fillet, and if she thought one of the pieces was too small, she'd quietly slip an extra into the bag. "Give those a little shower before you cook them," was her usual advice.
In the summer, when the fish plant was not accessible, she'd sell fish off the back of her truck in front of the KFC.
She was a Yellowknife icon.
If you want some idea of the impact of her death on the community, check out the CBC North website. CBC has been reading some of these tributes on the morning show this week.
Her funeral was held this afternoon. Bet the place was packed.