Nellie Cournoyea’s legacy

I’ve been hearing for months that Nellie Cournoyea was getting ready to step down.

A friend first whispered it to me during Inuvialuit Day last summer.

And then there were a bunch of whispers and chatter around town for months that the Northwest Territories’ first female premier, and Canada’s second ever, would be stepping down soon.

Over the past 6 months in various interviews I would pose the question to the 76 year-old.

“Nellie will you be seeking re-election?”

She would reply that she hasn’t made up her mind.

In January, Cournoyea, finally announced she was stepping down.

Lot’s of people in the territory are talking about her legacy.

My favourite is Freddie Carmichael, former Gwich’in Tribal Council President, who described her as the “Iron Lady.”

She is a tough lady and she isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind.

Including when it comes to opening up the vote for Inuvialuit. Currently only a select few of Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) directors get to vote for the chair and CEO.

In an interview with me shortly after she stepped down Cournoyea said the IRC wasn’t a public organization and the election of its head wasn’t a popularity contest.


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