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LEAVING A LENGTHY LEGACY – Paddy Jim, seen here in September 2003, would have turned 97 years old on Friday.

CAFN mourns passing of beloved elder

The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) are mourning the loss of their oldest elder,

By Whitehorse Star on November 14, 2019

The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) are mourning the loss of their oldest elder, K’axhnuxh (Tlingit) – also known as Paddy Jim and by his nickname Dezitátà, which is Southern Tutchone for “Fast-Running-Daddy”.

Jim, who died last Monday, would have turned 97 on Friday.

“My Uncle Paddy was one of the last links to the traditional old ways,” said Dän Nätthe Äda Kaaxnox (Chief Steve Smith), who is also Paddy Jim’s namesake.

“He was a pre-eminent Southern Tutchone and Tlingit knowledge keeper, and his whole existence was about passing down learning from a long time ago.

“He was a champion of teaching our young people. That knowledge he had was something we tried really hard to learn from.”

Jim was born to Maghąts’asana (Maggie) and K’ayedátà (Little Jim) at Chemia Män (Otter Lake), near the south end of Äshèyi Män (Aishihik Lake) .

He spent much of his childhood growing up at Łu Ghą (Klukshu). One of 10 children, he was rich in knowledge of a life lived close to the land and water.

In 1944, Jim married Ts’alhtiin (Stella Jim, nee Smith) and moved to live near her family in the Kuwasa/Takhini area. They were married for more than 70 years, and raised several children together.

As an Agunda (wolf clan) leader and expert in dän k’e (our ways), Jim shared his traditional knowledge, skills, and language throughout his life with all who wanted to learn.

He helped teach traditional tool-making with many Yukon First Nations and in many Yukon classrooms.

The late elder also passed down important ceremonies, and always worked to advocate language and culture revitalization.

In 2014, Jim was recognized with the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre’s Keish Elder Award.

He was also acknowledged in 2015 in the Yukon legislature for his lifetime of contributions to language and culture.

Jim was also adept in guch’an (non-First Nation) ways. He learned to read and write during summer school with a priest who came to Łu Ghą (Klukshu) to teach the children.

The CAFN said he was a hard worker and held many skilled jobs. Those included award-winning big game guide, mining camp labourer, horse wrangler, sternwheeler worker, crane operator, Swede-saw operator, clearing the Whitehorse airport, rodeo man, fence-builder and teacher.

“His work ethic stayed with him, and he actively shovelled his driveway, chopped wood, walked, hunted and taught well into his 90s,” the CAFN said.

Jim is predeceased by his wife, Stella, and several siblings and children. He is also survived by several children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

His legacy lives on in the Dákwänjē (Southern Tutchone) language immersion program, in the structures he built at Da Kų Cultural Centre, and in the dän k’e teachings and skills he passed on to countless youth.

“What I know I got to pass it on to younger people,” Jim once said.

“That’s how native people work; they carry it on they pass it on to next generation. A lot of the stories, the old stories, see try to pass it on to you and then you can turn around to teach the next young, generation.

“That’s how native people work. See? Pass it on to next one. So they carry on with it all the way through, you know what I mean?”

A funeral service is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday at Shadhala Kų (Champagne Hall).

Comments (1)

Up 8 Down 0

Pat Banks on Nov 15, 2019 at 3:29 pm

My condolences to Paddy's family. Paddy was a true champion and I enjoyed his company and that of his late wife Stella on several occasions over the years. Yukon has lost two wonderful people.

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