Respected elder and former Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Chief Raymond Alex Jackson died Monday at the age of 77.
"He constructed the vision for land claims settlement and he never ever gave up on always trying to help his people," said current Champagne and Aishihik chief Steve Smith.
Jackson was among Yukon First Nations leaders who traveled to Ottawa in 1973 to present then Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau with "Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow", a document that laid out problems faced by First Nations people in the territory and outlined proposed solutions through a negotiated land claims settlement.
That document lead to the formation of a central organization that evolved into the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) and land claim negotiations that culminated in the Umbrella Final Agreement, which provides a self-government framework for Yukon First Nations.
Jackson worked as a negotiator through the process and when Champagne and Aishihik First Nation finalized its land claims agreement in 1993, it was one of the first four Yukon First Nations to do so.
In 1973 Ray Jackson was among Yukon FN leaders who met with Trudeau, calling for change, lead the way for landclaims pic.twitter.com/EpKP5pOHWS— @CherylKawaja
"Ray was one of those gifted individuals who sacrificed quite a bit of family time to see through a land claim and try and make a better lot in life for citizens of not only Champagne and Aishihik First Nation but all Yukon First Nations people as a whole," said Smith.
He said Jackson was also involved with the Yukon Native Brotherhood and the Council of Yukon Indians, and remained an active leader, participating in his First Nation's general assemblies as a delegate until last year.
Smith says Jackson died after a lengthy battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
"We'll miss him," he said. "We extend our heartfelt condolences to Ray's family at this sad time."