Old Crow elder Edith Josie, whose writing reflected Yukon's northernmost community to the world and helped earn her an Order of Canada, died on Jan. 31 of natural causes. She was 88.
Vuntut Gwitchin MLA Darius Elias said Ms. Josie will be sorely missed for her gentle guidance as a community leader, but that her legacy will live on.
Ms. Josie was born to Paul and Elizabeth Nukon Josie on Dec. 8, 1921, in Eagle, Alaska, and moved to Old Crow with her family in the 1940s.
She was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 1995 in recognition of bringing her community to the rest of the world through her journalism.
Through decades of writing her Here Are The News column in the Whitehorse Star, as well as her appearances on the CBC's Gwitchin radio show, Mr. Elias noted the elder held a love of her culture and the land.
At the same time, she embraced the inevitable changes that came to Old Crow, from the building of the airport to the Internet.
"She valued our culture and she couldn't wait to share it with the rest of the world," Mr. Elias said.
In recent years Ms. Josie and other elders used the website oldcrow.ca to pass on their knowledge.
"Everyone should go school and learn more things. You're not too old to learn," reads a section titled Knowledgeable Words in her elder profile on the website.
Ms. Josie began writing for the Star in 1962, columns that were translated into several languages.
The columns recorded the happenings of the community, from caribou hunts to airplane arrivals.
In a 1963 column, she talked about families moving up river to dry meat and cut wood for sale.
"Even now the spring has come cause it is daylight around 11 o'clock p.m.," she wrote. "Pretty soon we won't use light for night time. Everyone glad to see plane every day. Even the same plane come in one day, they all have to go down to see what is going on and what come in on plane."
By the time the book of columns was published in 1993, Ms. Josie had been profiled in Life magazine and received the Canada Centennial Medal for her contribution to the nation.
Her final column ran in 2005.
Beyond the formal recognition that came her way over the years, there was much work she did in the community.
She was a lay reader for the Anglican Church in Old Crow and taught Gwitchin at the Yukon College campus in Old Crow, not to mention upgrading her own skills at the school and offering that "gentle guidance" to those in the community like Mr. Elias.
As late as Saturday, Ms. Josie, who wasn't able to see but could hear visitors, would ask who was coming in to see her and then joke that "they were just messing with her" when they identified themselves.
Josie leaves three grandchildren and two of her three children, William and Jane, and their spouses. Another son, Kevin, died a number of years ago.
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