October 25, 1938 – July 8, 2021
In Loving Memory
The family announces the Celebration of Life for Nashiya Chief Paul Joseph Birckel.
Paul was born on the shores of Kluane Lake to Paul and Lily Birckel. He spent his childhood traveling and learning to live off the land and waters of Dakeyi – our country. As a young man, he worked in the oil fields of Alberta. On one trip home, he met Kathleen Joe. They immediately fell in love, were married February 20, 1960, and remained a dedicated couple for 61 years. They had three children, Gary, Gail and Darrel. On weekends and holidays, Paul and his family could be found hunting, fishing and trapping on the traditional territory of Champagne and Aishihik First Nation including Dezadeash Lake, Frederick Lake, Klukshu, Dalton Post, northern BC and Chimeyea.
While working with Yukon Electrical Company, Paul accepted an invitation from Chief Elijah Smith and the Yukon Chiefs to help lead the Council of Yukon Indians in those formative years of land claims negotiations, and to act as the Executive Director of CYI. In 1978, Paul became the Chief of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and retained this position for five terms until 1998. During his tenure as Chief, Paul achieved some landmark achievements including: the first Childcare agreement with the Yukon Government; Elders Benefit programs (1980); the pursuit of the recognition of indigenous rights under the Canadian Constitution (1982); the pursuit of the recognition of the inherent right of self-government (1996); the completion and execution of the CAFN Final and self-government agreements (1993); the national lobbying to bring the CAFN Final and Self-government agreement into force (February 14, 1995); the establishment of numerous mining, forestry, construction and trucking companies; the purchasing of the Yukon Inn with other Yukon First Nations; and numerous other personal, and CAFN projects, too numerous to mention.
He received many acknowledgments of his leadership, including the Yukon’s Business Man of the Year (1995) the Indspire Award Laureate (2000) and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2002). Paul was not spiteful or motivated by revenge or anger but rather Paul exuded love, tolerance, patience and collaboration as his hallmarks of reconciliation. The constitutional agreements will provide a lasting foundation not only for CAFN but rather for all Yukoners and Canadians.
Paul is predeceased by his parents, Paul and Lily Birckel and survived by: his wife, Kathy; his children Gary (Maureen); Gail; Darrel (Olga); his grandchildren Matt; Cory; Troy; Sean; Nikolas and 4 great grandchildren; his sisters Rose (Richard); Lucie (Hal) and Frank and numerous in-laws and relatives.
In lieu of flowers please make donations to Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada or the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.
Chief Paul Birckel will travel from Whitehorse to Klukshu, Yukon on Friday July 16 at 11am.
Funeral Services at 2pm, dinner to follow. Service and dinner will take place outside with COVID-19 protocols.Obituary