Stuart Hodgson, N.W.T.'s first resident commissioner, dead at 91

Stuart Hodgson, the N.W.T.'s first resident commissioner, has died. He was 91.

Order of Canada recipient helped found Arctic Winter Games

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      Stuart Hodgson, the N.W.T.'s first resident commissioner, has died. He was 91.

      Hodgson served as commissioner from 1967, when the territorial capital moved from Ottawa to Yellowknife, until 1979. He oversaw the development of responsible, local government during that time.

      "Many people quite adored Mr. Hodgson when he was the commissioner of the N.W.T. because people in the communities knew he spoke on their behalf," said former Nunavut Commissioner and N.W.T. health minister Piita Irniq, who worked with Hodgson as a translator in the 1970s.

      His efforts earned him the nickname Umingmak (muskox) among Inuit. Irniq said Hodgson was instrumental in devolving certain government services to the community level.

      Hodgson also secured infrastructure and equipment for local governments and was instrumental in getting the community of Resolute Bay moved away from the local runway, which was a major military base at the time, Irniq said.

      "Stuart Hodgson was a very influential man," Irniq said. "He had lots of power within the Government of the Northwest Territories as commissioner. He always got pretty well what [he] wanted with things that concerned the Arctic."

      'Closer to the people'

      In a statement, N.W.T. Premier Bob McLeod said Hodgson "laid the foundation" for responsible government in the territory.

      "Overseeing the move of the Government of the Northwest Territories from Ottawa to the new capital of Yellowknife, Mr. Hodgson was committed to bringing government closer to the people," McLeod said.

      "During his time in office, Northerners took an increasing role in making the decisions that affected them, as the Council of the Northwest Territories completed its transition from a committee of federally-appointed bureaucrats to a fully-elected Legislative Assembly."

      Hodgson also helped create the Arctic Winter games in 1969, with then-Yukon Commissioner James Smith and then-Alaska Governor Walter Hickel.

      In 2012, Hodgson was inducted into the N.W.T. Sport Hall of Fame in the builder category.

      He also served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War, worked as a labour leader and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970.


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