N.W.T. Senator Nick Sibbeston resigns

Northwest Territories Senator Nick Sibbeston announced Thursday he will give up his seat effective Nov. 21.

The long-time senator will relinquish his seat on Nov. 21, his 74th birthday

Nick Sibbeston, a residential school survivor, was a champion for Indigenous people of the North. (Facebook)

Northwest Territories Senator Nick Sibbeston announced on Thursday he will give up his seat effective Nov. 21.

The long-time senator from Fort Simpson was appointed in Sept. 1999.

"I have to say that I am losing some of the enthusiasm that I had earlier on and I just thought it would be an opportunity for someone new to come into the Senate for the North," Sibbeston said.

"As you get older, the traveling back and forth to Ottawa is arduous ... it was just a time to move on."

Sibbeston, a residential school survivor, was a champion for Indigenous people of the North. While in the Senate, he was involved in various issues ranging from the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline to northern infrastructure, parks, climate change and Indigenous involvement in economic development.

"It takes a determination to stand up for the ordinary people and to challenge the status quo," said Sibbeston on what his successor will need, to successfully take over his seat.

"You have to have the determination to raise issues that maybe are not very popular, but you know in your heart and gut that it's right. That's what it takes."​

However, Sibbeston's service was not without criticism.

In 2014, Sibbeston blamed party politics for his low attendance in parliament. A report found that Sibbeston missed 51 out of 70 votes.

Sibbeston made the news again the following year with questionable expense claims in an auditor general report.

Sibbeston stood by his expenses and told CBC News, "The reality is I did the work. There is no question. There is no fraud."

Sibbeston was premier of the N.W.T. from 1985 to 1987. (Canadian Press)

Sibbeston is also a former premier of the Northwest Territories, serving for two years from 1985 to 1987. He also served as a territorial cabinet minister and practised law.

He was appointed to the Senate on the recommendation of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien in 1999. In 2016, he changed his designation to Independent Senator.

In the news release, Sibbeston said he is looking forward to spending the rest of his life with family, travelling and doing spiritual things. He told the CBC he plans to work with the local Catholic priest to translate liturgy into Dene languages.

"I have this obsession with making sure people understand the mass service in their own language, in the Dene language," Sibbeston said.

"I hope to continue that in the ensuing years."

Sibbeston will relinquish his Senate seat on his birthday. He will be 74 years old.