Joe Lattie from Gitanmaax First Nation certainly lives up to his traditional name, “Dimdenoe," which means “Helper to People." The retired forestry worker and firefighter, who is 75, was recently recognized by the Salvation Army for his five years of volunteer service. On Wednesdays, Joe works with the Food Bank, collecting food and other items for the non-profit organization. On Tuesdays, he also works with the Gitanmaax Dudes' Club, where he provides support and guidance to more than 20 men from the community in sharing circles and get-togethers. This brotherhood allows Joe to support and connect with those on recovery journeys.
Joe has been married to Dorothy, a retired nurse and Head Chief of the Wolf Clan in Hazelton, for 57+ years. He says she is a very hard worker and watching her contribute to the community has been his main source of inspiration.
Walking the talk and talking the language
Joe and Dorothy take care of themselves so that they can continue to live well and help others. They walk between 10 and 12 kilometers each day. Wearing their Fitbits, they record about 15,000 steps daily.
They are fluent speakers of the Gitxsan language and speak the language as much as they can. They also encourage people to speak Gitxsan at feasts or other traditional events.
“Listening to the Elders speak the language is amazing," says Joe. “I love hearing our language – it's important!"
Welcoming new generations and surviving loss
The Latties are blessed with seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild, and they love to spend time with them.
They have also had tragedies; in March 2017, their daughter Evangeline passed away due to breast cancer. And in 2018, Joe had an operation to remove cancer from his body and endured four months of radiation treatment. “I beat cancer with the treatments and constant support and encouragement of [Dorothy]," he says.
Thank you Joe for sharing your story and being an inspiration.