Whitehorse Daily Star

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LATE CHIEF PRAISED FOR DEDICATION – Doris McLean is seen at work in June 1988. The respected former chief of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation died Tuesday at the age of 77.

Ex-chief remembered as a tireless trailblazer

Doris McLean, a beloved elder, advocate and former Carcross-Tagish First Nation (CTFN) chief, died early Tuesday evening at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer.

By Taylor Blewett on January 24, 2018

Doris McLean, a beloved elder, advocate and former Carcross-Tagish First Nation (CTFN) chief, died early Tuesday evening at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer.

Marilyn Jensen, one of McLean’s daughters, told the Star today she called her mom a “freedom fighter legend.

“She just was so feisty; she was just so resilient,” Jensen said.

Born in Carcross, of Tlingit and Tagish ancestry, McLean dedicated much of her life to the various communities she belonged to.

She spent years working on the Yukon First Nations land claims and self-government agreements.

As a court worker, she travelled all over the territory to help Indigenous people through the justice system, Jensen recalled.

From 1988 to 1992, McLean was the CTFN chief – the following year, the seminal Umbrella Final Agreement was signed.

“She worked so hard for basic rights for Indigenous people, here in the Yukon and beyond,” her daughter said.

McLean was also a dancer, and started the Skookum Jim/Keish Tlingit dance group in the 1970s.

Jensen, who leads the acclaimed Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, said one of her mother’s greatest legacies was working toward the revitalization of their culture.

McLean was a long-time member of the Baha’i faith. She served on the local spiritual assembly for more than 50 years, according to the assembly’s secretary, Angela Brewster.

McLean had to be elected annually to her position, Brewster said, which speaks to her place in the community.

“She’s well-loved and well-respected, and just a marvel.

“She was a dedicated woman and she worked tirelessly for her beliefs.”

McLean was the Yukon Legislative Assembly’s deputy sergeant-at-arms from November 2003 to July 2016. She then served as sergeant-at-arms until Sept. 30, 2017, making her the first Indigenous person to hold the position in the Yukon.

“Ms. McLean conducted her official duties with dignity and efficiency, and was well-liked and highly respected by all those who came in contact with her,” Nils Clarke, the legislature’s Speaker, said in a statement early this afternoon. “All members of the legislative assembly and legislative assembly staff who served during her tenure will miss her.”

The trailblazer “was a big advocate for women, Indigenous women and women in general,” according to Jensen.

McLean is survived by her two daughters – Jensen and APTN reporter Shirley McLean – as well as her husband of more than 50 years, a sister and a brother, and her two grandchildren.

“And lots of people that she just adopted as her grandkids,” Jensen added.

McLean’s funeral will be held Saturday in Carcross.

Further details will be announced by the family in the near future, Jensen said.

Comments (1)

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Dawn-Alena Brown on Jan 25, 2018 at 10:32 am

A remarkable lady and an inspiration to all who had the great honour to know her. I will miss you very much Miss Doris.

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