Stephen Kakfwi

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Stephen Kakfwi
9th Premier of the Northwest Territories
In office
January 17, 2000 – December 10, 2003
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
Commissioner Daniel Joseph Marion
Glenna Hansen
Preceded by Jim Antoine
Succeeded by Joe Handley
MLA for Sahtu
In office
October 5, 1987 – November 24, 2003
Preceded by John T'Seleie
Succeeded by Norman Yakeleya
Personal details
Born (1950-11-07) November 7, 1950 (age 66)
Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories
Nationality Canadian
Political party Independent

Stephen Kakfwi (born November 7, 1950 in Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories[1]) is a Canadian politician and the ninth Premier of the Northwest Territories.

Early life[edit]

Stephen Kakfwi was born on November 7, 1950 in a traditional Dene bush camp at Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories to full-blooded Slavey parents. His parents were non-status Slavey due to his grandfather waiving his treaty rights in order to own property and run a fur-trading business. At an early age, Kakfwi was sent away to residential schools in Inuvik, Yellowknife and Fort Smith. During the 1970s, Kakfwi attended the University of Alberta to complete a teacher's degree, but early in that decade he returned to his Fort Good Hope community during a time in which many Aboriginal Canadians were beginning to organize politically to demand recognition of their land and self-government rights.[2][3]

Political career[edit]

In the 1970s the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline was proposed. Kakfwi identified the danger this proposal posed to his community's homeland, and fought tirelessly against the proposal, organizing groups of Dene and Metis. Eventually, the Government of Canada established the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, commissioned by Justice Thomas R. Berger. The 1977-8 recommendations against building a pipeline through the Northwest Territories for the time being were considered by Kakfwi as a "political badge of honour".[3]

In 1980 Kakfwi ran against Georges Erasmus for the Dene leadership, but lost. In 1983, Kakfwi again ran for the position of President of the Dene Nation and won, as Erasmus, his 1980 opponent, had been elected grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations. As President of the Dene Nation, Kakfwi established both the Northwest Territories Dene Cultural Institute and Indigenous Survival International (the latter was focused on hunting rights, particularly in the Arctic). He also aided in land rights efforts and helped to develop a framework for land claim negotiations. In 1984 and 1987, Pope John Paul II had scheduled visits to the Northwest Territories, an effort made possible by the work of Kakfwi. Although the 1984 visit was subsequently cancelled due to poor weather, Kakfwi continued to campaign for a visit in 1987.[2][3]

In 1987, Kakfwi was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, representing the constituency of Sahtu, of 254,000 square kilometres in area. During his sixteen-year tenure in the Legislative Assembly, ending in 2003, Kakfwi played key roles in initiatives ranging from economic development by encouraging the creation of diamond cutting and polishing industries in close proximity to local diamond mines, through to his promotion of Aboriginal rights, especially during his term as Premier of the Northwest Territories from 2000 to 2003. His sixteen-year tenure in the cabinet of the Northwest Territories is the longest in the Territories' history.[4] Kakfwi continues to play an active role in the development of the Northwest Territories through his advisory position to WWF Canada. He is married and has three children.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ a b Stephen Kakfwi Archived June 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. - The Canadian Encyclopedia (accessed 2010-01-08).
  2. ^ a b c Stephen Kakfwi - Biography - Kakfwi and Associates (accessed 2010-01-08).
  3. ^ a b c d In Depth: Stephen Kakfwi - Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (accessed 2015-08-04).
  4. ^ Stephen Kakfwi: The Public Government Politician - Kakfwi and Associates (accessed 2010-01-08).
Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
Preceded by
John T'Seleie
MLA Sahtu
Succeeded by
Norman Yakeleya
Preceded by
Jim Antoine
Premier of Northwest Territories
Succeeded by
Joe Handley