Stephen Frost Sr. smiles as he watches people gathered in the Old Crow community hall on May 31, 2018. The Vuntut Gwitchin elder died at the age of 87. (Atsushi Sugimoto/Arctic Photo Laboratory)

Stephen Frost Sr. remembered

Vuntut Gwitchin elder contributed much to his community

Stephen Frost Sr. is being remembered as a man who gave much to his community of Old Crow and fought against climate change.

The Vuntut Gwitchin elder died at the age of 87 leaving a legacy for the future.

As Premier Sandy Silver said in a Sept. 9 statement: “His strong beliefs that the land and animals must be protected for future generations will have a profound and long-lasting impact in the community and across the North. His outgoing nature and love for storytelling will be missed deeply.”

Silver described Frost’s dedication for his work at the community health centre in Old Crow as well as maintaining the local airstrip and fighting against climate change as just a few examples of his commitment to the health and safety of the Gwitchin people.

“He generously shared his knowledge with so many. His contributions to his family, community, this territory and the Gwitchin people will continue to be felt for many generations,” Silver said. “We have lost a legend and our thoughts are with Elder Frost’s family and his entire community.”

Frost was born in Old Crow and raised mainly in the Bluefish River area. He and his wife Ethel moved to Old Crow when they had children. Ethel, who predeceased Frost, was also a strong leader and person of influence in the community, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegrade said in a Sept. 7 statement, extending his sympathy to the Frost family.

“It is always tragic when family and friends lose an elder, but a man like Stephen Frost Sr. had an impact that reached farther than most,” he said. “A Vuntut Gwitchin storyteller, historian, dog team racer and trapper, Mr. Frost was an ambassador for the Yukon. In his later years, he loudly warned about climate change and the changes that someone who lived as close to the land as he has experienced and witnessed.”

AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek also reflected on Frost’s legacy.

“He was a truly extraordinary man who led a remarkable life,” she said. “He lived through many world changes, but throughout his life he remained steadfast in his commitment to climate action and the protection of the Porcupine caribou herd and Gwitchin culture and way of life.”

Frost’s work had a profound impact on the Vuntut Gwitchin and many people across the North.

“I will continue to cherish these memories, but what I will miss most of all is his openness and kindness — taking the time to welcome people with a smile and visit over a cup of tea. Mahsi Cho to the Frost family for sharing this special person with us,” Adamek said.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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