December 20, 1935 - October 9, 2021
In loving memory ~
Beloved Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Sister, Cousin, Leader, Matriarch
With great sadness, we announce the unexpected passing of our beautiful matriarch Nagwa'on, Sophie Evelyn Ogen at the age of 85 years. Sophie is survived by her children Ruby Ogen (Dean), Marlene Ogen, Michael Ogen, Barry Ogen, Maureen Luggi, Karen Ogen (Brent), Reg Ogen (Susanne) and 18 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. She will be deeply missed by her siblings Rita George and family and Doreen Plante and family (Edson, AB) and numerous cousins, relatives, and friends. She was predeceased by her loving husband of 49 years, the Late Mitch Ogen (1931-2005), and son-in-law Robert F. Luggi Jr. (1966-2012)
Sophie is of Gitxsan, Wet'suwet'en and Stellat'en ancestry and held her Hereditary Chief name Nagwa'on from 1976 to 2021, a total of 45 years. Her leadership in the Bah'lats was very influential and Nagwa'on believed in being present for the people at funerals and bah'lats. She felt her role was important to honour and acknowledge people from other clans. She believed in being generous and thoughtful at all times in the feast hall, much like her late father Satsan, former Chief Paddy Isaac. She supported many people in receiving their Chief names in the feast hall and accepted her role of being hired, very graciously. Her main concern was to support families in grief and to show her love to them.
She grew up on the land with her parents - Satsan, Paddy Isaac and Noskalay/Nagwa'on Julie Isaac-Gladue - and with 12 other siblings. They participated in the Bah'lats, fishing, hunting, harvesting berries and medicines, and gardening. She was raised to be very strong in the Wet'suwet'en way of life and her favorite places to be were on the Yintah at Swan Lake, Day Lake, Forestdale, and Tse Zul aka China Knows within Wet'suwet'en territory.
She attended Lejac Residential School for a short period, as well as Rose Lake School and Topley School. She attended the Choices Program with her children & grandchildren in attendance and also attended Elijah House Prayer Counselling training from 1995-1996 in Burns Lake, which she learned more about healing, forgiveness and prayer. She loved to pray and was a very strong woman of faith.
Sophie was employed at Babine Forest Products, Immaculata School, and was a former tree planter. From 1967 to 1987 she was an elected Chief and Council member of Omenica Band and Broman Lake Band, now known as Wet'suwet'en First Nation. Sophie also participated as a Director for the Lakes District Council of Chiefs, which evolved into the
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Society. She also participated as a shareholder/Trustee and Board member of the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation. She acted as Elder Advisor to her community from 1987 to the present. She took part as an Advisor with Carrier Sekani Family Services in the Addictions Recovery Program and Heal the Healers Program. The Wet'suwet'en language was her first language and Sophie participated in teaching the language, culture and traditions to the community. The development of the community of Wet'suwet'en First Nation is in large part due to her strong leadership and guidance.
Sophie enjoyed watching animal veterinary shows, the Price is Right, and Archie Bunker shows on TV. She played instruments and loved dancing. She was very creative and made up many Wet'suwet'en Bah'lats songs. She enjoyed the Lake Babine Nation Choir and the Louie Singers as well as playing cards and bingo and travelling with her late husband and children.
Many people remember Sophie through her generosity, her beautiful smile, her warm hugs and her kindness, especially to families in grief. She extended her love to many people who were downtrodden and gave to the many homeless who lived on the streets. Those who went to visit her home did not leave without many gifts being presented to them. She believed in helping people and always told the elected Chief and Council to help the people and "they will never become rich, just by helping them".
Funeral services were held on Saturday, October 16, 2021, at Immaculata Parish, Burns Lake, BC with Father Ken Anderson officiating. Interment was at Paddy Isaac Memorial Cemetery, Ci'gg'iz, Severidge Road, Duncan Lake IR #2. Bah'lats was held at the Necigh Bey'igh Community Centre at Wet'suwet'en First Nation.
The Ogen family is very grateful for the outpouring of love, support and prayers, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. We extend our appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Michael Graetz and all the nursing staff of Lakes District Hospital. Further, we acknowledge the monetary support provided to the Bah'lats by numerous First Nations communities, Indigenous leaders, organizations and partners of Wet'suwet'en First Nation and their company Yinka Dene Economic Development LP.