Stephen Frost Sr., a respected Vuntut Gwitchin elder, has died at 87 years old.
Frost was an accomplished hunter, trapper and dog team racer. He was also a beloved storyteller with a wealth of knowledge about Gwich'in history and culture.
"One thing about Stephen Frost that everybody knows that knows him well, is that he was a real traditionalist. And his biggest fear was people losing that tradition," said Doug Phillips, former Yukon commissioner and a long-time friend of Frost's.
"He took a lot of people out, a lot of young people out over the years and taught them some of the traditional skills."
Frost was born in Old Crow, Yukon, and spent much of his early life in the Bluefish River area, west of the community. He later moved to Old Crow where he raised 11 children with his wife Ethel Frost.
Phillips met Frost in Old Crow years ago when Phillips had gone to the community on a job contract. The two became fast friends and got together many times over the years, sharing stories and laughs.
"His sense of humour, of course, was second-to-none. He always had a story to tell," Phillips said.
The two friends also shared a passion for gardening. Their last visit together was on Friday in Whitehorse, when Frost came to see Phillips's garden. Frost had already been in the city for several months during his illness.
"So he came out and we sat down in the garden and we had a beer together and we solved a lot of the world's problems. And Stephen was his old self, cracking jokes and enjoying it," Phillips recalled.
"We had a beautiful day. Everything was perfect. And we both knew when Steven got into the car and drove home that we probably would never see each other again."
'A great and well-loved man'
On Sunday, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde offered condolences to Frost's family and friends in a statement on the AFN website.
"It is always tragic when family and friends lose an Elder, but a man like Stephen Frost Sr. had an impact that reached farther than most," Bellegarde said.
"Old Crow has lost a great and well-loved man. Please know, there are many who share in your sorrow."
Kluane Adamek, the AFN's Yukon regional chief, also called Frost "a great leader."
"He was a truly extraordinary man who led a remarkable life. He lived through many world changes, but throughout this time he remained steadfast in his commitment to climate action and the protection of the porcupine caribou herd, and Gwitchin culture and way of life," Adamek said in the written statement.
"His commitments and actions had a profound impact on his people, and so many of us who live in the North."