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Mr and Mrs Yukon 2024

YR2024 MrMrsYukon-IMG_0307_web.jpg

Ron Chambers was born in Whitehorse on Sept. 16, 1943, to Grace and Carl Chambers. The family home was in Burwash Landing on Kluane Lake and his parents were trappers in what is now Kluane National Park. He has two sisters—Kluane and Louise. Ron is a member of the Wolf Clan and has Tlingit ancestry on his mother’s side. His grandmother was Louise George, daughter of Chief Klanott of Dyea, Alaska, who controlled the Chilkoot Pass. His grandfather was Thomas Dickson, a member of the Northwest Mounted Police. Ron also has Tutchone ancestry on his father’s side. His grandmother was Annie Kershaw Stick, daughter of Chief Kershaw. His grandfather, Harold (Shorty) Chambers, came to the Yukon with Jack Dalton, and he built the trading post at Champagne. 

Ron attended residential school in the Yukon for eight years, then graduated from high school in 1963, in Haines, Alaska. He helped found the Chilkat Dancers while in Haines. After graduation, he attended the Southern Alberta College of Art in Calgary. 

Merrilee was born in New Westminster, B.C., on April 2, 1949. She is the eldest of seven sisters. Three of her sisters followed her to the Yukon, two of whom are still here. Her father was born in Alberta. He was an airplane mechanic in the second World War, and became a high school teacher after the war. His parents emigrated from Ireland in the early 1900s, settled in Alberta, and later relocated to the Vancouver area. Merrilee’s mother was born in Burnaby, B.C., operated a teletype machine during the second World War, and was a homemaker following the war. Her parents had emigrated from England in the early 1900s and settled in southern B.C. Merrilee’s parents were married in 1947 and had a family of seven daughters. Her mother is 99 and still living independently in Tsawwassen, B.C.

Ron and Merrilee first met in 1968 at the Burwash Landing Lodge, when she came up to the Yukon for the summer. After returning to B.C. that fall, she decided to take a legal secretary course. Ron came to visit Merrilee in Vancouver that November. Merrilee accepted a job with a Whitehorse lawyer and returned to Whitehorse on Jan. 4, 1969. She immediately froze her knees trying to walk from Main Street to Cook Street in a bitter wind and a mini skirt! 
Ron and Merrilee were married on May 17, 1970. In the early ‘70s, Ron worked for Indian Affairs, followed by the Yukon Native Brotherhood. Merrilee began work with the Yukon Territorial Government’s Forestry Branch. Along with Annie Ned and George Dawson, Ron was instrumental in the creation the Koweeki Dancers of Whitehorse. The dance group’s first performance was for Governor General Roland Michener. 

In 1972, Ron was hired on as a park warden with Kluane National Park. The following year, Ron and Merrilee moved to Jasper for two years while he completed his training. In 1975, they returned to the Yukon and set up house in Haines Junction. Merrilee worked at the weigh scales until their son Todd was born in December 1975. Two daughters, Robin and Tihna, followed over the next nine years. Merrilee was a stay-at-home mum, growing a huge garden and putting up wild meat, fish, and fruit for the long winters. During this time, she was a Sparks and Brownie leader, and sat on the local daycare board. As the children grew, Merrilee was kept busy with kids’ sports and activities. The family spent time together camping, hiking, fishing, and skiing. In 1989, Merrilee became an education assistant at St. Elias Community School. After retiring in 2012, and with an empty nest, Merilee started travelling. She currently sits on the local Seniors Society Board as well as the DAKWAKADA Haines Junction Food Association. 

Ron was a member of the Kluane National Park helicopter search and rescue team, and made several rescues off Mount Logan. Ron was the first Yukoner and the first First Nations person to climb Mount Logan. As a park warden, he climbed the mountain twice. Ron spent summers working with archaeologists from the National Museum of Canada, which he feels put him on his path in life. After retiring from the Parks service in 1993, Ron was part of a group that climbed Mount Steele in celebration of the RCMP Centennial in 1995. He also operated a wilderness guiding business for six years, and continues to guide upon request. 

Ron has sat on numerous boards over the years, and is currently serving on the Yukon Salmon Subcommittee, and the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board. He is often asked to share his knowledge and experiences in schools and with various groups. In 2020, Ron was presented with a Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Assembly of First Nations for the Yukon Region. 

Ron and Merrilee are happy to have their children all living in the Yukon— son Todd (Renée), daughters Robin (Rob) and Tinha (Cory), grandchildren Téo, Indyana and Wesley, step-grandson Spencer (Faith), and step-great-grandson Sawyer. At 18, Merrilee had dreams of moving to New York to work in the fashion industry. However, she feels she made a much wiser choice in moving to the Yukon. 

Ron’s boards and activities over the years:
•    Board of Directors, Yukon College 
•    Board of Directors, Arctic Winter Games in 1972
•    Past President of Yukon Native Products
•    Performed at the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton in 1979
•    Represented the Yukon at Expo 86 in Vancouver
•    Former Deputy Chief of Champagne Aishihik First Nation (CAFN)
•    Signatory to the CAFN Land Claims Agreement with Ottawa, 1993
•    NIACC (National Indian Arts & Crafts Corporation) 
•    Canada Council for the Arts
•    Tatshenshini-Alsek Management Board
•    Yukon Geographic Place Names
•    Kluane Park Management Board
•    Yukon Heritage Resources Board (long enough to be an artifact)


Ron and Merrilee are very proud Yukoners. They are honoured to be selected as 2024 Mr. and Mrs. Yukon by the Yukon Order of Pioneers.

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