30th anniversary event at Yukon College Old Crow campus honours Alice Frost
September 29, 2016
OLD CROW—Yesterday evening over 70 people gathered at the Alice Frost Yukon College community campus in Old Crow. They were there to pay tribute to the Gwitchin leader the building is named after and celebrate the campus’s 30th anniversary.
Randall Kendi opened the gathering with a prayer. Sophia Flather read a short biography of Frost in English that she researched and wrote this summer. Brandon Kyikavichik read the biography in Gwitchin. This was followed by a campus open house where friends and family shared their favourite memories of the late Chief.
Flather’s biography of Frost will be preserved on a plaque that will hang on the campus building in the community. Flather spent a month interviewing 13 people who grew up with, worked alongside, or knew Frost very well. She also reviewed newspaper articles, community records, oral history transcripts, and Berger Inquiry transcripts.
“Just about everybody had stories of her offering advice and support when it was needed. She was very generous and a great support to children and women especially. There were also stories of her laughing a lot and making fun of herself,” said Flather.
Learning more about Alice Frost left this young Gwitchin woman with some important Frost wisdom around relationships.
“Alice said that relationships are the most challenging part of life. In a community there are so many crucial relationships to care for and balance: your relationship to yourself, to family, community, animals, medicine, the land and the divine. This was something she understood and worked for each day. This was a very beautiful thing for me to learn as so many of us are striving to understand these different relationships today and how to balance them,” said Flather.
“She was an incredibly strong and passionate woman, yet humble and always willing to grow and learn. She stood for what she believed in even when dealing with very sensitive issues because it was not for herself, it was for the generations to come. It was very inspiring. Eighteen years after her passing, Alice is still encouraging us all to become better people,” added Flather.
Pauline Frost, Chief Frost’s daughter, lives in Whitehorse and was unable to attend the event.
“Our family is deeply honoured and grateful for the recognition of our mother’s life work. She would be so proud to be recognized like this. Always humble in her ways, she will always be my hero, my mentor and my life teacher,” said Frost.
She added, “One teaching I would like to share that my mother emphasized is ‘never keep what you have been taught, pass it on, it’s our culture, and others will appreciate you for it’.”
Chief Alice Frost was born in 1937 and died from cancer in 1998. In between those years she married Donald Frost and raised seven children, developed exceptional sewing and beading skills, and never stopped learning. A fierce advocate for education and its necessity in the community’s fight for self-determination, Frost pushed for the creation of a College community campus in Old Crow. She later taught sewing and Gwitchin language and attended many classes as a student.
From 1985 to 1988 Frost was the first female Chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin and helped prepare the community for self-government.
The College campus is the third building in Old Crow to host a biography of the person it is named after. The other two being the Sara Abel Chitze Vuntut Gwitchin Government Offices and the John Tizya Centre.
The Alice Frost plaque and campus 30th anniversary celebration was made possible with the generous support of Government of Yukon Department of Community Services through the Community Development Fund.