The eldest of eight children, Judy Gingell was born on her grandparents’ trapline, 200 miles south of Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway. She attended residential school and then a Vocational Technical School to upgrade to grade nine. In 1969, she was a founding member of the Yukon Indian Brotherhood, and acting as its secretary/treasurer in 1973, when they presented the grievance document, “Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow”, to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Indian Affairs Minister Jean Chrétien. This document became the basis of the Yukon land claim. She was elected Grand Chief of the Council for Yukon Indians in 1989. In 1995, Judy, along with other Yukon First Nation leaders, was a signatory on the Land Claims and Self Government Agreement. In 1995, Prime Minister Chrétien appointed her Commissioner for the Yukon Territory, the first First Nations person appointed to this position. In her position as Commissioner, Gingell created the “Commissioner’s Potlatch”, which was endorsed by the Yukon Elders’ Council as a happy occasion, unlike the traditional sadness that is often associated with the ceremony.
A founding director of Northern Native Broadcasting, Ms. Gingell is a current board member and past Vice-President of APTN. She also serves as Vice-President for the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and the Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle. She became President/CEO of the Kwanlin Development Corporation, and is Vice-President of Community and First Nations Relations for the 2007 Canada Winter Game Host Society. She is a former board member for the Yukon Economics Council, Han Fisheries Ltd., Yukon Women’s Transition Home and Grey Mountain Housing Society. She has been recognized by the Kwanlin Dun First Nation on three occasions for her valuable contributions and she has received the Yukon Commissioner’s Award for Public Service. Ms. Gingell has held many leadership positions in the last 35 years and continues to be involved in community affairs. She is forever grateful for the support and confidence that the people of the Yukon Territory have entrusted in her. Judy Gingell lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.