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Former Yukon minister dies

Former member of the Yukon legislative assembly and cabinet minister John Edzerza has died.

John Edzerza knew rough times, was known for speaking his mind

Former Yukon cabinet minister John Edzerza passed away Friday from leukemia. (CBC)

Former member of the Yukon legislative assembly and cabinet minister John Edzerza has died.

The 63-year-old passed away Friday evening after a six-month battle with leukemia.

Jacine Fox knew Edzerza when he was living on the streets and she later worked for him in his constituency office.

"I knew him as a rough and tough, hard to bluff kind of guy," said Fox.

Fox watched as Edzerza pulled himself out of the gutter and took on issues through politics.

She says he always spoke his mind.

"There was an understanding between Fentie and the rest of the cabinet that John was going to speak his mind and he was going to speak the truth whether they liked it or not," said Fox.

Edzerza also served with Fox on the Kwanlin Dun First Nation council. He later became an MLA and cabinet minister in former premier Dennis Fentie’s government. The move, in October 2009, allowed Fentie's Yukon Party to keep a majority in the legislature at the time.

His brother Allen Edzerza says his parents and siblings loved him for it.

"The family was very, very proud of him," he said.

Fox says his biggest project was the land-based healing centre at Jackson Lake, Yukon. But she says his legacy is a moral lesson.

"People can change and they can make a difference. And he made a difference," she said.

Details of a celebration of life will be announced later this week.