Order of the N.W.T. welcomes 4 new members

The Order of the Northwest Territories welcomed its four newest members Wednesday in Yellowknife, as Jan Stirling, Anthony Whitford, Marie Wilson, and Nellie Cournoyea received the territory's highest honour.

Jan Stirling, Anthony Whitford, Marie Wilson, Nellie Cournoyea receive territory's highest honour

From left: Marie Wilson, Anthony (Tony) Whitford, Jan Stirling, and Nellie Cournoyea stand in the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly. All four were inducted into the order of the Northwest Territories Wednesday afternoon. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

The Order of the Northwest Territories welcomed its four newest members Wednesday in Yellowknife, as Nellie Cournoyea, Jan Stirling, Anthony Whitford and Marie Wilson received the territory's highest honour. 

The honorees are the second group to be inducted into the order, which was established in 2013. A group of six received the honour last year, which was modelled after the Order of Canada and "recognizes individuals who have served with the greatest distinction and excelled in any field of endeavour benefiting the people of the Northwest Territories or elsewhere."

Cournoyea, a former N.W.T. premier and long-time chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, says that her induction is "a reflection of a lot of the work that has been done, not only by myself but by a lot of people.

Cournoyea was inducted into the order for her decades of work in N.W.T. politics - as an MLA, premier, and finally as the long-time chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. (Curtis Mandeville/CBC)
"I always reflect on how many times I've been told that things could not be done," she said. 

"I think about the Tuk/Inuvik Highway. The whole issue was on the table for 25 years. But the time was right, and the support was right, and we got it.

"I really feel like all Northwest Territories residents should have the thought process that nothing is impossible."

Whitford, a former N.W.T. commissioner, said that the Order is "important to show the young people, especially, that all things are possible." (Curtis Mandeville/CBC)
Whitford, a former three-term Yellowknife MLA and commissioner of the N.W.T., also reflected on the support he was given, saying that he "never thought... that he would have reached this spot in history. 
Marie Wilson, a former CBC broadcaster and a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was inducted into the Order on Wednesday. (Curtis Mandeville/CBC)
"Not just having seen it happen, but helping make history in the North. It says thank you to the large numbers of people that help us do what we have to do."

Wilson, a former CBC broadcaster, was recognized for her work in media and as a commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She said that both achievements were extremely important to her — and also connected.

Long-time Northern nurse Jan Stirling was also well-known for her work with Yellowknife's immigrant population. A public health building in Yellowknife was named after her in 1997. (Curtis Mandeville/CBC)
"We need means in this great big geography to talk to each other, and to hear each other, and to understand each other," she said of her work bringing daily television news to residents of the North.

"And the Truth and Reconciliation Commission... that allowed us to know ourselves as Northerners well."

Stirling, a long-time nurse in Yellowknife, was also well-known for her work with immigrants new to Canada and the Northwest Territories, welcoming newcomers into her home. A public health building in Yellowknife was named after her in the late 1990s.

with files from Randy Henderson