Natalie E. Novik, 70, died on Oct. 13, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska. Natalie was born in Paris, France, in 1951. She grew up in an artistic family, her father being a movie maker and her mother an actress. The family came from all corners of Europe and because of this multicultural background, Natalie was fluent in several languages and had a passionate view of cultural sovereignty, which included a lifelong commitment to indigenous rights.
As a young woman in Paris, Natalie’s interest in indigenous issues led her to head Nitassinan, the French, indigenous support group. While in this role, she met the love of her life, Lee Lyons, a Six-Nations activist from upstate New York. She moved to the United States where she lived with Lee until his unfortunate death a few years later. She returned to Paris to complete a master’s degree in northern studies at the Sorbonne University.
Natalie moved to Alaska in 1990, first to Kotzebue, then permanently to Anchorage. She worked to reunite Alaskan and Russian families separated by the Cold War and the Bering Sea. She later worked on international Arctic initiatives and programs for the Northern Forum. She spent several years teaching French at the University of Alaska and was named Honorary Consul of France in 2008 and served six years. Most recently, Natalie worked for the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, which reminded her of her youth in Brittany, cleaning up oil spills and advocating for better maritime traffic surveillance.
Natalie was instrumental in developing the Celtic Community of Alaska and served as president for many years. She was a longtime member of the International Committee for the Defense of the Breton Language and made frequent submissions for its newsletter. Natalie loved to sing, play the harp and was keenly interested in all kinds of crafts. She enjoyed traveling, especially in the north, and delighted in the friendships she found there. All her life, Natalie professed an unconditional love of cats, whom she found to be wonderful companions, particularly on cold winter nights!
Natalie began treatment for cancer in 2019. Despite extended periods of chemotherapy, Natalie continued to work, plan events and enjoy the company of her friends up until the week of her death. She died at home in peace, with friends at her side and deeply loved.