Raymond Jackson

April 26, 1939 ~ August 22, 2016

Ray was born April 26, 1939 at Takhini Crossing to Marge & Peter Jackson; to the Ägunda (Wolf) Clan and his beloved Champagne and Aishihik First Nation.  Ray is predeceased by his parents and his siblings, Margaret, Oliver, and Ronnie.  He is survived by his uncle Paddy Jim and aunt Sadie Brown, siblings Jackie Jackson, Florence Griffith, and Grady Jackson; by his devoted wife Jenny (Clunies-Ross), daughters Crystal and Sue-Ann; granddaughter Kaitlen and newly born great grandson, Lucas.  Ray is also survived by a large extended family of nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, foster children and others that he and Jenny supported.
Ray spent much of his early childhood in hospitals due to a serious car accident at the age of 2 1/2.  Away from his siblings, friends, and his parents who visited when they could, Ray’s early years were spent among nurses and visiting missionaries.  It would take until the age of 12 before a procedure could be found that would allow him to walk again.  Often bedridden during these many years of confinement, Ray found innovative ways to satisfy his interests and curiosity, including teaching himself to read.
Ray wanted more that anything to walk and after hearing bible stories from the Baptist missionaries about faith and miracles performed by Jesus, he vowed that he would devote his life to the Lord if he could walk again.  His surgery was complex and difficult and while successful, it forced Ray to develop his own unique way of walking.  Determined to find his own way in life, Ray found solutions to the challenges he faced.  He showed this resolve throughout his life.  In many ways we was like his mother Marge.
At age 12 and able to walk, Ray entered Grade 1 at Whitehorse Baptist Mission School.  In 4 years he completed 8 grades.  When the latter school closed, he transferred to Choutla Residential School, graduating in 1956.  Young Ray is remembered for always helping other students with their homework.  He contributed artwork and wrote great detailed stories for the Choutla Grayling Newsletter.  Ray turned his physical limitations to an advantage, whether it was swinging from tree to tree as Tarzan, or playing pool.
Ray was both a very serious teenager and “very cool”.  He sported an Elvis Presley haircut and wore a beautiful beaded jacket made by his mother.  He is remembered as the person who introduced “the twist” at a dance in Champagne.  Because he didn’t drink, Ray was often asked to be a designated driver; his time in bars was spent becoming a serious pool player.  Ray found ways to adapt cars so he could drive, attaching wooden blocks to the pedals so his feet could reach them.  He was known for his passion of fast cars, especially Corvettes.
Ray attended John Oliver High School in Vancouver, and dealt with a bout of TB in Grade 10.  Following graduation he took a bookkeeping course, an important skill in his later work.
In 1961, Ray began his studies towards becoming a Baptist Minister in Whitehorse, later transferring to Berean Bible College in Calgary. In his last year there (1965), he met the love of his life, Jennifer Clunies-Ross.  In 1967, Ray and Jenny were married in Creston, BC and moved north to Yukon.  Thus began a beautiful marriage and partnership of 49 years, which later included their beloved Crystal and Sue-Anne.
In 1969, Ray became active in Yukon First Nations right movement when Elijah Smith engaged him to take on two important tasks: oversee the Yukon Native Brotherhood finances and promote cohesion among a diverse assembly of Yukon Chiefs.
During these years Ray and Jenny strove to build a Baptist ministry.  On Sundays they would go to Ross River, Pelly or Carmacks, driving around honking their horn to announce that service was about to begin.  Ray always brought along his guitar and his puppet “Charlie”, which was used to tell Bible stories to kids.  Ray loved teaching and was a natural teacher.
Ray was devoted to Champagne and Aishihik people.  Band Manager for many years, he was elected Chief in 1972 and 1978.  With others, he fought to stop the construction of the Aishihik Dam due to concerns about its impact.  When the project went ahead despite objections, Ray demanded jobs for CAFN citizens.  Ray could see opportunity where others saw defeat.
In 1973, Chief Ray was one of the 12 Yukon First Nation leaders who along with Elijah Smith, presented “Together Today for Children Tomorrow” to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.  This important work essentially established the foundation for the modern land claims process.  By the mid 1970’s, Ray had been elected President of Yukon Native Brotherhood (YNB).  In 1987, he became Vice-Chair of Council of Yukon Indians (CYI).  He was employed by YNB/CYI for a total of 11 years and worked for CAFN numerous times, even into his retirement, and he was a valued member of many CAFN boards and committees.
Ray was a wise and courageous leader with a unique leadership style.  Sometimes he led from behind and other times he stepped out and stood his ground, with opinions that were not agreeable to all.  He did not follow convention but kept his sights on horizons beyond what most see, he was a true visionary.  This is a remarkable quality and so needed in the challenging times over the past decades.  Ray lived these challenges personally- he learned to walk again, he became his own person, self reliant and empowered.  These very personal challenges made him the leader and human being we honour and celebrate today.

 

11 Comments

  1. Paulette Tremblay

    To Jenny and Chrystal and other family members.

    It is with sadness that I write to you concerning the passing of Ray. My condolences come from me and my children. May I also offer condolences to you on behalf of Wyatt and all of his siblings, Kristy, Terry Lynn and Kelly and from mom (Lois) Tremblay.
    It is always hard when one loses a family member. Ray is with Jesus now and will be sorely missed. I am hoping to come on Sunday to Champagne. If I don’t please know my heart is with you all.

    Sincerely,
    Paulette Tremblay
    mushtodo@me.com

    Reply
  2. Mary Anne Harach, Whitehorse

    It was with sincere sadness that I heard of the passing of such a nice person, we know that his suffering is over for him, not for his family who are mourning his passing. My condolences to his sister Florence and all his other siblings. R.I.P. Ray.

    Reply
  3. K.J. and Peggy Metcalf

    To Jenny and family, our prayers and thoughts are with you. What a beautiful life Ray walked through.

    K.J. and Peggy Metcalf
    Juneau, Alaska

    Reply
  4. Julie

    Thank you for letting me know about Rays death. I am truly sorry to hear about your loss. I know Ray will be missed and I wish you well during this time of mourning. ,My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Julie

    Reply
    • Jenny

      Thank you dear Julie. Crystal and I are doing well. “How come I don’t cry, hey Mum?” That little one has great faith that her Daddy is waiting for her!
      My email.: jenny47j@yahoo.ca . What is yours?
      Jenny

      Reply
  5. Robin Gouchie

    Those we love don’t go away ,they walk beside us every day .Unseen ,unheard But always near ..Still loved still missed and very Dear .************* *Gone from your sight but never from your memory ..So sorry for your loss Jenny Jen Jen ,,,,,,,Think of you often Lotza Big God Bless you and the girls….

    Reply
  6. June Wighton-Sister of Joan Clunies-Ross

    How grateful we were to have met Ray in England some years ago. We have read his obituary with great interest and may he rest in peace.

    Reply
  7. Michelle Chadwick (Baker/Freeman)

    On behalf of the Chadwick famy (Baker/Freeman) family

    We all have many memories of our holidays to Canada and visiting our family members there and remember Ray fondly … I still have the pair of mocasons slippers that he gave me when I was around 9 along side the memories i have of meeting him . He is at peace along with all our other loved ones who we will never forget x

    Reply
  8. Lyn Holloway

    Ray was an inspiration to me in Bible school . He was the best crokinole player I ever knew. It was something to hear Briam Cummins, Ray and Striet jam with their guitars on second floor balcony. Very sorry to hear of his passing

    Reply
  9. Brian Cummins

    What a privilege to have known Ray during his years at Berean! We had great times playing music together (his guitar, my accordion) in the dorm, at street mission meetings, and elsewhere. He had such a positive, godly outlook on life that when you were with him his physical limitations faded from sight. After Bible college our ways parted; I went to Africa, Ray went up North, and we lost touch. So it was wonderful to read in this obituary how God used Ray in such mighty ways over these past decades! Heaven has gained a terrific, joyful citizen though he will surely be missed by his family and close friends.

    Reply
  10. Reg Jensen

    I am so glad that I had the opportunity to catch a visit with Ray, Jenny and Crystal in July on my way back down the highway with my father. Ray had Crystal get his guitar and although he was unable to join in the singing then it gives me such joy thinking of how he must be enjoying praise and worship in the physical Presence of Our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ! God bless you Jenny. I told Ray more than once to enjoy a breath of Yukon air and a view of Yukon scenery for me now and then. He’s now enjoying celestial scenery and air after joining that “cloud of witnesses”!

    Reply

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