Eddie Dillon was given a hero’s send-off May 17 in Tuktoyaktuk during a funeral broadcast live by the Inuvialuit Communications Society.
Set in a wood coffin draped in the Inuvialuit flag and crowned with a wreath of flowers, surrounded by dozens of wreaths laid around the stage, his memorial served as a chance for the community to thank him for his lifetime of service and to remember the good times with Eddie.
“Eddie was very, very committed to the well-being of all Inuvialuit, especially here in Tuk,” said Inuvialuit Regional Corporation chair Duane Smith during the service. “He led by example and is a clear definition of what a leader is. He always kept me on my toes.”
Smith recounted how Dillon emphasized unity among the Inuvialuit and taught him people were stronger when they work together.
Eddie Dillon passed away on May 10 at age 66.
A legendary figure in Beaufort Delta politics, Dillon wore many hats throughout his life, serving as Mayor of Tuktoyaktuk and chair of the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation, but most recently as the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation’s secretary and treasurer.
He was an instrumental figure in negotiating and signing the Inuvialuit Final Agreement in 1984, restoring the Inuvialuit people’s control over their own destiny. Then, he served with the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation on and off for 35-years.
As Mayor of Tuktoyaktuk, Dillon also put the Beaufort Delta on the international stage, drawing in big name hard-core music acts like Metallica, Courtney Love’s grunge band Hole, Moist and Veruca Salt for the 1995 Molson Ice Polar Beach party, with the heavy chords still ringing through residents’ heads.
But he is most remembered for his battles against the U.S. Coast Guard in 1985, where he joined a protest against the Polar Sea voyage when an American icebreaker passed through the Northwest passage without permission from the federal, territorial or local government. The protest led to an agreement between Canada and the United States to require permission for American ships in Canada’s northern waters.
“Eddie will surely be missed,” said Smith. “He leaves us all in a better place and he is now watching over us. Love you and we’ll miss you, especially your calls of advice. God Bless Eddie and to the family as well.”
The Inuvik Drum expresses its condolences to Dillon’s friends and family and the community of Tuktoyaktuk.