Assembly of First Nations Offers Condolences on the Passing of Elder Pearl Keenan

Published: Jan 31, 2020News

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde and AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek offer their condolences on behalf of the AFN to the family and friends of Pearl Keenan, a highly respected Teslin Tlingit Elder of the Dakl’aweidi clan. Elder Keenan peacefully passed away at the age of 99 in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek stated: “On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations, we join with the family of Pearl Keenan – T’aaḵú Tláa – and the Teslin Tlingit Council to acknowledge the profound loss of this deeply respected Elder. This will be felt across the Yukon, the country, and beyond. She will be deeply missed and we join in the celebration of her life, the significant world events she witnessed and lived through, and her wealth of knowledge. The countless initiatives, activities and roles she carried were always aligned to her goals of maintaining and revitalizing First Nations culture. We knew Pearl to be a dedicated advocate and tireless worker for the preservation and promotion of Tlingit culture and language, of custom and tradition, and of respect and dignity. For almost a century, she gathered, held and shared her experiences, knowledge and wisdom. She was an inspiration to all of us and her strength and leadership will always be remembered.”

Pearl Keenan has the distinguished honour of being inducted into the Order of Canada in 2006 as a leader among Yukon First Nations. Her many accomplishments over the course of her life are a testament to her constant drive to foster a better quality of life for her people.

“I join Regional Chief Adamek and the entire AFN Executive Committee in offering our sincere condolences to the family, friends and community of respected Elder Pearl Keenan,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Elder Keenan will be remembered for her pride and love for her people and her culture. Her legacy lives on through the many contributions she made to her nation. She was a strong advocate for education and strengthening and revitalizing Tlingit language and culture. We offer our thoughts and prayers to all who knew her.”

Teslin Tlingit Elder Pearl Keenan -T’aaḵú Tláa – was born in 1918 on the banks of the Nisutlin River near Teslin, Yukon.  She served on many boards and committees over the years, including the Yukon First Nations Elder’s Council, First Nations Education Commission, the Skookum Jim Friendship Center and the Yukon College Elders Advisory Council.  One of her most cherished opportunities was serving as Chancellor of Yukon College.


The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.


For media requests or more information, please contact:

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 244
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]