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Gwich'in elder, columnist honoured with bronze bust in Old Crow

The sculpture of Josie, who died in 2010, was unveiled at a ceremony in the community on Tuesday.

Sculpture unveiled in the Yukon community on Tuesday

Rolf Hogen, a Whitehorse businessman and philanthropist, and Tammy Josie, Edith Josie's granddaughter, get ready to unveil Gwitch'in elder Edith Josie's bust. (submitted by Christian Kuntz)

The late Gwich'in elder Edith Josie has been honoured with a bronze bust in Old Crow, Yukon. 

The sculpture of Josie, who died in 2010, was unveiled at a ceremony in the community on Tuesday.

"It just seemed appropriate that this person who made Old Crow famous ... that the people of Old Crow should be honoured by having a statue of her in their community," said Whitehorse businessman and philanthropist Rolf Hougen.

Her newspaper column, Here Are The News, appeared for 40 years in the Whitehorse Star.

It was also syndicated in newspapers in Toronto, Edmonton and around the world.

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm talks about Edith Josie's legacy. (submitted by Christian Kuntz)

This is the eighth bust Hougen has commissioned to honour artists and writers from the Yukon who gained national attention.

He got sculptor Harreson Tanner to create the bust of Josie.

Hougen says Josie had a unique way of writing about the everyday lives of people in Old Crow.

A bust of Gwitch'in elder Edith Josie was unveiled to the community of Old Crow, Yukon on Tuesday. (submitted Christian Kuntz)

She would write in English, but with her own flare, reflective of the informal way she spoke.

"At one point someone decided it should be interpreted and put into proper English, and I think that was tried once or twice and it destroyed the character of the whole story and they soon went back to her way of writing."

Josie's granddaughter, Tammy Josie, remembers her grandmother fondly.

"I still hear her laughing. She was always comical, especially when she would say something like, 'That Jane tell me just stay home like I'm in jail,' and then she would stick out her tongue, then she would squish her head into her shoulders and laugh around," said Tammy.

Josie was known as having an infectious smile. Tammy said she liked being called "Miss Josie." 

Josie remained an active teacher and writer in her community until her death in 2010.

An identical bust of Josie will be erected in Whitehorse at a later date.

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