Skip to content

Fundraiser launched to support family of Squamish Indigenous leader who died suddenly

Gyauustees, as he was best known in Squamish, leaves behind nine children, grandchildren and a legacy of educating others.

There is shock and mourning in Squamish and far beyond after the sudden death of Gyauustees (also known as Whea and Micheal Fraser ) who died on Sept. 26 at home in his Dentville apartment. 

Gyauustees, 51, was husband to Jasmin Starchild and a father of nine. 

Most familiar to locals as Gyauustees, he is well-known for his dedicated efforts to further Indigenous representation. 

His heritage is Nuu-chah-nulth, Coast Salish, and Kwakwakawakw. 

He was a traditional song keeper, Sun dancer, master carver and carrier of the World Unity, Peace, and Dignity Walking staff, which locals likely saw in last year's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation downtown Squamish march, which he participated in.

To his children, of course, he was beloved as Dad.

His eldest daughter has launched an online fundraising campaign to help cover the extensive and sudden costs of his funeral, headstone and to help care for his young children, she told The Squamish Chief.

As his oldest child, Kyla Fraser said she feels responsible for sending her dad off "in a good way."

A traditional service was held on Oct. 2 at Totem Hall.

"We have started a fundraiser to help cover the costs of his funeral, and travel expenses for his beloved nine children and grandchildren," she wrote on the Go Fund Me page she created. 

Fraser has two children, Gyauustees's grandchildren, who are 10 years old and 1.5 years old, and she is currently eight months pregnant.

While growing up, Gyauustees lived in various places, including Victoria, Powell River and Squamish. 

He later became a ceremonial leader of the tribal people of the northwest, his obituary states. 

"He will be remembered for his ceremonial leadership, inspirational songs, unique art and loving and kind heart," it states. 

It also notes that he loved the band Metallica.

A Facebook memorial page set up in his honour overflows with love and memories from family, friends and others who he touched in the community.

Veronica McPhee posted her condolences from the Sea to Sky Singers. 

"It is with great sadness that Sea to Sky Singers has learned of the passing of Gyauustees. He was an engaging storyteller, a skilled artist, and a gracious collaborator. We learned so much from him when he joined us for our December 2021 concert, Stitch Us Together. May his family find consolation in knowing his spirit continues to sing through all the lives he touched."

Gyauustees recently also worked with Quest University and will be missed by faculty and students alike. 

"We’ve had the privilege of having [Gyauustees] in the Quest community the last three years. He made a significant impact upon the lives of students, staff, and faculty through sharing Indigenous ways of knowing with classes and in conversations and events," said Quest University Canada's vice-president of academics, Jeff Warren.

"His spectacular artistry filled his office and expanded to whiteboards across campus. We mourn his loss and will remember the traces he has left on our community."

Folks can donate to his family by going to the Go Fund Me page: “Donate to help with Whea’s funeral,travel expenses."



push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks