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The Public Government Politician

In 1987, Mr. Kakfwi made the move to public government, representing the Sahtu constituency, located in the Great Bear Lake region of the NWT.

His four terms in Territorial politics, all spent serving in Cabinet, produced many of the political, economic, environmental, cultural and geo-political achievements which made the last quarter century so remarkable for the NWT and all its residents.

His vision was to create a public system of government which incorporated the best of Aboriginal and public government institutions and practices.

Over sixteen years in Cabinet, a record in NWT history, he served as minister of Education, Housing, Justice, Personnel, Safety and Public Services, Aboriginal Rights and Constitutional Development, Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development and as the first Premier of the new NWT after division and the creation of Nunavut. Between 1987 and 2003, Mr. Kakfwi was instrumental in:

  • Settlement of regional Aboriginal Land claims involving the Gwich’in, Sahtu Dene and Métis and the Tlicho.
  • Development and implementation of an NWT Protected Areas Strategy and a Mackenzie Valley Five Year Action Plan in cooperation with NWT Aboriginal organizations, the federal government and Canadian environmental organizations.
  • Ensuring that North America’s first diamond mines, which were located in the NWT, included northern employment, training and business benefits and provision of rough diamond for a local cutting and polishing industry.
  • Promoting Aboriginal peoples as key players in the NWT economy through owning and operating marine and air transportation companies, providing services to the mining and oil and gas industries; generating electrical power, and securing one-third equity in a Mackenzie Valley pipeline.
  • Changing the map of Canada forever, through the creation of two new territories – Nunavut in the East and the NWT in the west – Inuit leaders recognized his role when Nunavut was formally established on April 1, 1999.
  • Ensuring that a zero tolerance approach was taken on violence, particularly as it relates to women, children and elders.
  • Establishing the Western Arctic Leadership Program, which was designed to encourage young Aboriginal students to prepare for future leadership roles
  • Creation of the NWT Intergovernmental Forum where federal, Territorial and Aboriginal governments dealt with economic development, devolution and revenue sharing issues.

Mr. Kakfwi continues to be active on a variety of initiatives including assisting promoting conservation of the NWT environment as an advisor to WWF – Canada. He is also working with his home community and other NWT Aboriginal governments and organizations to ensure benefits and revenues from construction and operation of a Mackenzie Valley pipeline. Mr. Kakfwi serves as a member of the Board for Vision Television.

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Copyright @ 2010 Stephen Kakfwi
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