“He was a bridge between traditional living and the life we have today," says Chief Roberta Joseph.
The Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in have renamed their Health and Wellness Centre after Chief John Jonas, who served as Chief from 1936 to 1940 and again in the late ’50s.
“We are a strong, resilient First Nation today because of individuals like Chief John Jonas,” reads a statement from Chief Roberta Joseph. “He was a bridge between traditional living and the life we have today. Ourselves along with future generations will not forget his efforts. Having his name on this building ensures that.”
“Chief John Jonas is still remembered by many of the Elders in town,”
“While he might not be as well-known as other leaders, like Chief Isaac, his contributions to the well-being of our First Nation are no less significant. The honour of having this important building named after him is no less than he deserves.”
John Jonas was born in 1879 and was 21 years old when gold seekers arrived during the Klondike Gold Rush. At the time, Hän people were living along the Klondike River, which was lined with gold nuggets. It is said that John Jonas would throw gold nuggets at rabbits when was hunting. He later moved to Moosehide when the Han people were relocated there, where he became involved with the Moosehide Council, serving as Chairperson from 1922 until 1927. He became a Councillor in 1932 and moved on to the role of Chief in 1936.
The Chief John Jonas Centre officially got its new name in a ceremony on Wednesday.