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Edith Josie

Heritage and Spirituality (2000)

If you want to speak to an historian, a journalist, or a justice of the peace in Old Crow, Yukon Territory, then you want to speak to Edith Josie. For over 36 years, Ms. Josie has written a column for the Whitehorse Star, entitled Here Are the News. Her reports are more than simple news stories. They capture the essence and history of the people and activities of Old Crow and the Yukon Territory. Ms. Josie was born in 1921 in Eagle, Alaska to a traditional Gwich’in family. She completed grades one and two in Eagle, before the teacher left the community. From the age of ten, Ms. Josie’s father taught her how to trap and skin animals and how to stretch skins. They sold these skins to earn money for food and clothing. In her spare-time, Ms. Josie learned to read and write from her older brother, Susie Paul. She moved with her family to Old Crow in the winter of 1940. For the next seven years, they traveled between Whitestone in the summer for fishing and Old Crow in the winter for hunting and trapping before settling permanently in Old Crow. She continued to earn a living selling skins, while raising three children and caring for her parents. In 1957, she was appointed the Justice of the Peace of Old Crow. She started writing her columns in 1963. Over the next three decades, Ms. Josie became such a popular cultural figure that she was featured in Life Magazine and on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Front Page Challenge. She also took courses part-time at Yukon College’s Old Crow Campus. Her columns were collected into a best-selling book in the Yukon, also called Here Are the News. Ms. Josie has received a number of awards including the Canadian Centennial Medal in 1967, the Yukon Historical Museums Award in 1994, and the Order of Canada in 1995.