Six 'Wise Women' honoured for contributions to N.W.T. communities
Women honoured for a range of work, from preserving Indigenous languages to helping their communities
It's been a big week for women in politics in the N.W.T — and on Friday, more women were honoured for their contributions in their communities.
The Status of Women Council of the NWT announced the recipients of this year's Wise Women Awards. Six women from across the territory were honoured during a ceremony at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.
The recipients were: Eunice Nasogalauk, Lois Philipp, Bertha Rabesca Zoe, Vicky Orlais, Betty Harnum, and Tina McNeill.
The women were honoured for their various actions, from helping teach youth on the land, to advocating for people experiencing homelessness, and preserving traditional languages, culture and practices.
"I feel very honoured and humbled to have received the award today, especially in light of the results of the election," said Rabesca Zoe from Behchoko, who received the award for the Tlicho region.
'A lot of changes' coming
The 2019 territorial election proved historic for women in the Northwest Territories; a record nine women were elected to the territory's 19 seats. On Thursday, Caroline Cochrane became the territory's second female premier.
Five of seven MLAs elected to cabinet, including Cochrane, are women; the most number of women ever elected to cabinet in the N.W.T.
It's a "game changer" said Rabesca Zoe. "To be able to see the calibre of women that are in cabinet and as MLAs, I think we're gonna see a lot of changes."
Rabesca Zoe was honoured for her long resume of work, including as legal council for the Tlicho government assisting in self-government and land claim agreements. She's spent the last three years helping other Indigenou governments with their agreements.
She said she looks forward to working with all the women elected to legislature, some of whom were in the audience as she received her award.
Betty Harnum was the territory's first language commissioner. She was honoured in the North Slave region for her work as lead on CBC's Indigenous languages archives project.
The project sees a team of 17 people archiving 75,000 hours worth of recorded stories collected over six decades by CBC in eight Indigenous languages: Gwich'in, Inuvialuktun, Tlicho, North Slavey, South Slavey, Denesuline, Cree and Inuktitut.
"I was a little white kid growing up in Toronto with no other cultural influences or anything, so this journey has been amazing," Harnum said.
Most of the other recipients' speeches were short, with most thanking their nominators before returning to their seats.
"I think I might get dessert!" said Lois Phillipp from Fort Providence, upon receiving her award for the Dehcho region.
Phillipp was honoured for mentoring young people through post-secondary school, and for helping pass on her local language, culture and way of life.
The Status of Women Council of the NWT has been honouring wise women since 1992.
Written by Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi, with files from Kate Kyle