1935 – 2018
George F. Wanderingspirit was born on the shores of Demma Lake near the NWT-Alberta border around Aug. 13, 1935, to Joseph and Maryann Wanderingspirit. He was later christened in Fort Chipewyan.
George was raised on the Barren Grounds, in Fort Fitzgerald, and around George’s Creek, Alta., in tents and cabins throughout his Dad’s and his cousin’s traplines. He became a skilled bushman—even developing the skill to kill grouse and rabbits with a throwing knife.
George’s favourite childhood treasures were his orphaned twin wolf pups. A favourite memory was of effortlessly running several miles down the Slave River shore to trade his muskrats, minks, and weasels with the Norwegian homesteader Jonsson for homemade butter.
He eventually inherited old Joe’s line and used it the rest of his life, often along with stepson Ernie and with his sister Chigoo next door. In addition to being an Alberta trapper, George was a Wood Buffalo National Park hunter.
He developed a relaxed and pleasant pace to life, learning to enjoy every hour and day as they came. Every meal—rabbit, beaver, bison, or bird—was something to enjoy and for which to be audibly thankful.
Known for honesty and reliability, George easily found seasonal employments: a carpenter’s-mate in Fort Chipewyan, a sawmiller in Fitzgerald, or a faller in the park. He fought fire one summer with his Ft. Chipewyan mates in Ontario.
When Fort Smith was still the capital of NWT, many celebrities visited there. George saw Queen Elisabeth, Canadian heavyweight boxing champion George Chuvalo, and European heavyweight champ Max Schmelling.
In January 1988 George was married to the love of his life, Mary Nanooch, originally of Garden Creek, Wood Buffalo Park. Together they raised their cherished Tammy. Their great-grandson Carson and others valued their caring too.
In the cold waters of Lake Athabasca, on June 19, 1988, George was baptized into the Body of Christ on the basis of his faith in the cleansing blood of the crucified Creator alone. He was empowered never to return to the destructive forces that had caused him and others grief.
He deeply loved listening to God’s Words especially when read by the youth. His favourite verse, which he recently quoted a couple of times in Cree, is John 14.6.
In George’s last little speech to his grandchildren, for whom he never ceased praying, he described the many annual spiritual camps he enjoyed with other believers until bush camping became too difficult for him and Mary.
On Tuesday, May 22, George and Mary were in their home with their children and several grandchildren. As birds loudly began announcing the dawn that George Wanderingspirit was accepted into the light-filled Presence of his Master and Saviour.
George was preceded by his parents Joseph-Oldman and Maryann; grandparents Pamahcaahkoo and Charlotte and Tofild Gibot; uncles Amaap, Sammy, Salawi, Pat, Felice; aunts Skwiisis, Madeleine; brothers Alphose, Napoleo, Charlie-Skillet; and sister Albina.
He is succeeded by his wife Mary; daughter Tammy Ladouceur (Wayne); stepdaughter Gladys Ladouceur; stepson Ernie Ladouceur; grandchildren Owen Ladouceur; Ross (Christy), Byron, and Shannon Gibot; great-grandchildren Carson, Austin, and Sarah Ladouceur, Brody Whiteknife, Sean and Maddy Vermilion, Eldon Broussie; step great-grandchildren Austin, Tinesha, Brooklyn and Rose Twin; sisters Mabel Cardinal, Louise Castor (Billy), Norma Kaskamin (Kevin), Frances Paquette (Larry), Helen Wanderingspirit; and stepsisters Jean and Sara Desjarlais.
George was buried in the Fort Chipewyan Cemetery on May 26, 2018, next to his brothers Telephone and Nap and sister Chigoo. The officiant was Arlyn van Enns, the minister whom he had mentored in the cultural ways of bush life.
“The time of my departure has come. I have finished the course. I have kept the Faith!
In the future there is laid up for me the crown of Righteousness which our Lord the
Righteous Judge will award to me on that Day—and not only to me, but also to all who are looking forward to his appearing!” (2 Tim. 4.6-8).