Aboriginal people have been on the cutting edge of resource
and environment management over the last three decades. After
years of living with the devastation of mining and oil and
gas development, they forced government and industry to adopt
new approaches to resource development in the 1970s. These
new approaches have served as models throughout Canada and
the rest of the world.
Stephen Kakfwi can speak with
knowledge and passion about the northern land and its resources
because he grew up on the land. His elders passed on the traditional
knowledge which is critical to making wise decisions about
managing and developing northern resources, both renewable
Since the 1970s, the NWT Aboriginal
people have had to make tradeoffs between resource development
and protecting the land in its original state. Pipelines have
been built to move gas, hydro projects have been developed
and diamond mines are now operating.
These developments have come
at a cost, but at least NWT Aboriginal People and their institutions
have had a say in when, where and how resource development
will take place. In his capacity as an Aboriginal leader or
Minister and Premier in the territorial government, Kakfwi
has worked to ensure that Aboriginal voices are heard.
The latest challenge facing NWT
Aboriginal people is to make decisions about protecting land
and resources along the Mackenzie Valley before large scale
pipeline and gas field development proceeds. Again, Stephen
Kakfwi has been in the forefront, leading an initiative to
develop and implement the NWT Protected Areas Strategy.
Eventually, the NWT will secure
power over the management and development of its environment
and resources. Stephen Kakfwi has been a strong supporter
of transferring these powers to northern institutions and
ensuring that Aboriginal people have a strong role in future
decision making on the northern environment.