1963 Yukon Nuggets
When I first read her stuff in the Whitehorse Star, I though it was kinda cute. Not very deep or insightful...just...well...just cute. But more than 30 years later, Edith Josie's columns have become an important record of lives of the people of Old Crow.
Her columns began appearing in the Whitehorse Star under the banner "Here are the News". Generally, the news consisted of when the plane came and what it brought...who was out on the trapline...where the caribou were running...and what the berry season was like. Pretty mundane stuff until you realize that for a people with only an oral tradition, this material is really as complete a record of their times as possible.
Edith Josie joined the Star as a community correspondent in 1963. She wrote the way she spoke...in straightforward Gwichin-influenced English. Soon, the Edmonton Journal began running the News from Old Crow and, soon after that, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner took up her columns, all hand-written.
Edith Josie was born in Eagle, Alaska. In 1940, her parents moved to Old Crow. She was 16. Edith is devotedly religious and her columns reflect her attachment to the Anglican Church. Details of baptisms, funerals, marriages, church socials, and especially the Christmas season, have all formed part of "Here Are the News" for more than 30 years.
Over the years, Edith became a bit of a traveller, joining Old Crow politicians as they travelled to Ottawa and Washington lobbying against oil exploration in the Old Crow Flats. Her greatest fear is that exploration would harm the caribou and thus alter forever the way of life of the Gwichin. In 1995, she travelled to Ottawa to meet with the Governor General, Romeo Leblanc.
This was not a political meeting. She was there to receive the Order of Canada for her lifelong dedication to her own special kind of journalism. When asked when she might retire, Edith Josie said, "I wouldn't retire. Just when I pass away, that's the time my news will cut off."
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.