Over a quarter century ago, governments and
industry started moving into the Canadian north in search
of resources. Hydro in northern Quebec and Labrador. Mines
in northern Ontario and Manitoba. Uranium in northern Saskatchewan.
Oil and gas in northern Alberta and British Columbia. Gold
and base metals in the NWT, Nunavut and Yukon. Historically,
little attention was paid to the northern environment, or
to the long term impact on northern communities and the Aboriginal
people who were living in the midst of these developments.
In the early 1970s, Stephen Kakfwi was among
a small group of young Aboriginal leaders who challenged the
authority of the federal government and industry to develop
oil and gas in the Northwest Territories. Each of these issues
needed to be addressed before responsible, sustainable development
Outstanding Aboriginal land rights had not
been settled. Environmental impacts had not been determined.
Municipal infrastructure was not in place to handle the influx
of activity. People and businesses were not prepared to take
advantage of employment, training and business opportunities.
Over the course of his career working for
the community of Fort Good Hope and the Sahtu region, serving
as the president of the Dene Nation and later as a Territorial
Minister and Premier, Stephen Kakfwi has played a critical
role in the development of the North’s non-renewable
Over the last two decades, Stephen’s
goal has been to apply sound land use planning processes and
decisions in advance of resource development. Mining and oil
and gas interests must now demonstrate that there will be
significant employment, training and business benefits for
Aboriginal and northern residents resulting from their mines
or pipelines. The diamond industry is the most recent example
of how significant benefits from resource development are
extending to the people of the North.