Family gathers to celebrate recognition of Chief Jim Boss

It takes something special to bring together a family scattered far and wide. In this case, the special event was Saturday’s unveiling of a…

It takes something special to bring together a family scattered far and wide.

In this case, the special event was Saturday’s unveiling of a plaque commemorating the contributions of hereditary Chief Jim Boss.

The plaque has been placed at Helen’s Fish Camp near Lake Laberge.

Anne Morin, the field unit superintendent for Parks Canada in the Yukon, and Chief Ruth Massie of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council unveiled the plaque, which recognized Chief Jim Boss for his contributions as a visionary who recognized the importance of preserving the land and its resources for his people.

Boss is remembered for having initiated the first Yukon land claim in 1902, and for helping southern Yukon First Nations make the transition to a Euro-Canadian economy from a traditional way of life.

About 50 family members and guests from the Yukon and beyond attended the ceremony.

Boss’ great granddaughter Sharon Olson, of Juneau, expressed regret that her mother was never able to come back to the Yukon for a visit.

It was because of this event that she, her husband and sister Christine could make the visit and honour their great grandfather, she said.

Whitehorse was very welcoming, she added.

Upon touring the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council offices, she met the staff and discovered that she was related to most of them. This is the first time that the Juneau and Whitehorse branches of the family have visited in Whitehorse.

Joe Jack, another descendant of Boss referred to him in two different aspects, first as a champion of the rights of his people, of which his 1902 letter is only one example. The second was his entrepreneurial character.

Over his life, he ran a number of businesses, including: roadhouses, supplying firewood, wild meat and fish, and operating a fur farm.

Because of his family connections, his linguistic skills, and his ability to adapt to and successfully exploit the non-native economy, he was widely respected within his own society and acknowledged by the European community.

On more than one occasion, he represented his own as well as his people’s interests to the government, and acted as a go-between on many occasions.

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