Nellie Cournoyea

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Nellie Cournoyea
Nellie Cournoyea.jpg
Nellie Cournoyea in Inuvik, 2006
6th Premier of the Northwest Territories
In office
November 14, 1991 – November 22, 1995
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Kim Campbell
Jean Chrétien
Commissioner Daniel L. Norris
Helen Maksagak
Preceded by Dennis Patterson
Succeeded by Don Morin
MLA for Western Arctic
In office
October 1, 1979 – November 21, 1983
Preceded by John Steen
Succeeded by riding dissolved
MLA for Nunakput
In office
November 21, 1983 – October 16, 1995
Preceded by new district
Succeeded by Vince Steen
Personal details
Born (1940-03-04) March 4, 1940 (age 77)
Aklavik, Northwest Territories
Political party non-partisan consensus government

Nellie Cournoyea, OC (born March 4, 1940[1] in Aklavik, Northwest Territories) is a Canadian politician, who served as the sixth Premier of the Northwest Territories from 1991 to 1995. She was the first female premier of a Canadian territory and the second female premier in Canadian history after Rita Johnston of British Columbia.

Cournoyea is of mixed Norwegian and Inupiaq heritage.

Before entering politics, Cournoyea was an announcer and station manager for CBC North in Inuvik, and a land claims worker for the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada.

She was first elected to the territorial Legislative Assembly in 1979, representing the electoral district of Western Arctic until it was dissolved in 1983, and then the new district of Nunakput for the remainder of her career in politics. She served the government in a variety of cabinet positions.

On November 14, 1991, she was chosen as premier under the territory's consensus government system, in which the premier is chosen by elected members following the general election. Cournoyea served as premier until 1995, and subsequently chose not to stand for reelection to the Legislative Assembly. She currently serves as chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.

She was a winner of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award, now the Indspire Awards, in 1994, and has been awarded honorary doctorates in law from Lakehead University, Carleton University and the University of Toronto.

In 2008, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada[2] as well as inducted into the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame.[3]

As a child, Cournoyea attended an aboriginal residential school. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report described how she was sheltered by Aboriginal families along her route when she ran away from an Anglican hostel in the Northwest Territories after a confrontation with a teacher.[4]

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