George Blondin was born at Horton Lake, north of Great Bear Lake, in May 1922, the son of Edward Blondin. In his early years George worked as a guide for surveyors on the Canol Pipeline project, and at Port Radium as well as a woodcutter, trapper and hunter. He later moved his family to the Yellowknife region and worked for Giant Mine. He served as Chief of the Deline (Fort Franklin) Band and as Vice President of the Dene Nation. He worked with the Dene Cultural Institute and wrote for northern newspapers, sharing political opinions and traditional stories, for which he was well known. George wrote several books on the Sahtu Dene, traditional medicine, and traditional stories, including 'When the World was New' (1990), 'Yamoria the Law Maker' (1997), and 'Trail of the Spirit: The Mysteries of Dene Medicine Power Revealed' (2006). In 1990, George Blondin was awarded the Ross Charles Award for Native journalism, and in 2003 he was appointed a Member of Order of Canada for his work towards preserving the heritage of his people. George Blondin was married to Julie Blondin and had seven children: Evelyn, Ted, John, Tina, Georgina (Gina), Bertha and Walter (died in infancy). George died in 2008.
John Blondin was born in Deline (Fort Franklin), Northwest Territories on March 6, 1959 to George and Julie Blondin. His family moved to Yellowknife in the early 1960s where John attended school. After his graduation, John traveled to Wales to attend Atlantic College. Upon his return to Canada, he completed a degree in linguistics at the University of Montreal. John was active in the theatre and art communities. He founded the Native Theatre Group and directed several productions of the "Association franco-culturelle de Yellowknife" (French Cultural Association). Much of his theatrical work focused on the telling of Dene legends, many of which he learned from his father, noted Elder, writer and storyteller George Blondin. He also performed in original Native theatrical and dance performances in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. He did not formally study photography, however, he enjoyed it as a hobby. He died on April 27, 1996 at the age of 37.
The Department of Culture and Communications formed in 1985 with the reorganization of the former Department of Information and the addition of the Museums and Heritage Division and Public Library Services, which were transferred from the former Department of Justice and Public Services.
The Department of Culture and Communications was responsible for preserving, promoting and developing northern culture, improving broadcast communications and availability of information, as well as, strengthening national and international understanding of the Northwest Territories. The department provided printing, graphic design, publishing, audio-visual and language services, such as interpreting and translating to the Government of the Northwest Territories. It delivered public programs such as library services, museum services, a cultural affairs program and offered grants in support of cultural activities through various divisions. The department assisted in providing radio and television services to communities and supported regional native communications societies that delivered culturally relevant radio and television programming to the north.
The Directorate Division operated between 1986-1992. It was responsible for the management of the department, development of policies, the direction of public affairs and provided administrative and financial services. It also advised the Executive Council on public relations matters.
The Public Affairs Division operated between 1986-1989 and was responsible for Government of the Northwest Territories public affairs programming, assisting clients in communications programs and providing services to the public through news releases.
The Publications and Production Division was responsible for meeting the graphic design and the publishing needs of the Government of the Northwest Territories through in-house or commercial activities. The division printed and produced a variety of publications including annual reports, the Northwest Territories Gazette, legislation, newsletters and booklets on various government programs and services. The responsibilities of Publication and Production included audio-visual services such as the production and distribution of video programs about the government in native languages. This division was transferred to Government Services and Public Works in August 1992.
The Language Bureau provided interpretation, translation and other communications services to the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Legislative Assembly in all official languages of the Northwest Territories, except Cree. This division included both an aboriginal language and French language section.
The Museums/Heritage Division transferred to Culture and Communications from the Department of Justice and Public Services in 1986. The Museums/Heritage activity was responsible for collecting, preserving, researching, documenting and presenting the cultural and natural history of the Northwest Territories. This function was achieved through museum and archival programs at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre and the Northwest Territories Archives, as well as through the provision of advice, technical support and financial contributions supporting community heritage projects. Other territorial programs administered by the activity included archaeological resource management and geographic name research program that had been transferred from the Executive Department into the Museum Division in 1986.
Library Services were also transferred to Culture and Communications from the Department of Justice and Public Services in 1986. The Library Services division provided some financial assistance to community libraries and maintained the government library, which collected Federal and Territorial Publications, reference material and books in the area of public policy. A grants and contributions program, delivered through Library Services provided funding to municipal councils for the operation of library programs, as well as the training of local staff thorough regional and distance education courses. The Government Library was transferred to the Legislative Assembly in 1992 when Public Library Services became part of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.
The Cultural Affairs Division operated between 1986-1989; this division supported, promoted and enhanced cultural diversity and the arts in the Northwest Territories. This task was accomplished through the distribution of grants and contributions, research, consultation and the development of policy and legislation. Cultural Affairs also provided administrative services and professional advice to the Northwest Territories Arts Council.
The Northern Communications Program was responsible for maintaining satellite receiving and transmitting equipment and providing CBC radio and television services to the communities of the Northwest Territories. This program evolved into the Audiovisual Section in 1989 and then into the Television and Radio Services Division that operated between 1990-91. Responsibilities included researching and developing the options for GNWT membership in Television Northern Canada (TVNC), which began broadcasting in 1992, as well as the handling of video/film production and distribution needs of the GNWT. This division also provided contributions to community broadcasting societies and regional native communications societies to support the production and broadcast of culturally relevant radio and TV programming in aboriginal languages. The division contributed to the three major regional aboriginal communications groups; Inuit Broadcasting Company, Native Communications Society of the Western Arctic and Inuvialuit Broadcasting Society. Television and Radio Services was also responsible for the maintenance of television and radio facilities in 27 small communities throughout the Northwest Territories.
In August of 1992, the Department of Culture and Communications was combined with the Department of Education, to form the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.
Bill Stewart was born on June 12, 1950 in Darlington Country Durham, England. He was educated in Darlington and studied filmmaking at Teesside College of Art and subsequently did three years post-graduate study at the School of Film and Television of the Royal College of Art in London. He graduated in 1974 with a Master of Arts. In 1974, he immigrated to Canada and worked as a Film Editor for CBC in Toronto, where he worked on daily film reports of Justice Thomas Berger's Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry and Dean Lysik's Alaska Pipeline Inquiry. He arrived in Yellowknife in 1978 as the Film Editor for the new CBC North Television Centre. In 1980, he left CBC and joined the Government of the Northwest Territories, Department of Information, where he was the Technical Production Officer. He became Manager of that Audio-Visual Unit in 1981 and in 1983, coordinated the Dene Video Information Project. He participated in the filming of the 1981 "Last Mooseskin Boat Project." The project, jointly sponsored by the Native Communications Society of the Western NWT, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, and the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Information, involved the building of a mooseskin boat by the Mountain Dene and the documentation of this process. He left the Department of Information in 1988 and moved to Edmonton where he joined the Government of Alberta as the Film and Video Consultant for Alberta Culture.
Charles Robert Harrman was born in New York in 1897. He spent his summers from 1950 to 1960 in Rae. He retired to Rae in 1961, where he remained writing and painting until his death in 1967.
Bern Will Brown was born in Rochester, New York in 1920 and came north in 1948 as a priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. In his first fourteen years in the north, he worked in a variety of locations, including Fort Norman (Tulita); Fort Franklin (Deline); Goldfields, Saskatchewan; Fort Chipewyan, Alberta; Aklavik; Fort McMurray, Alberta; and Nahanni Butte.
In 1962 Father Brown was sent to Colville Lake, only a short distance north of the Arctic Circle, in the traditional homeland of the Hareskin (North Slavey) Dene. On the shore of the lake he planned and built a log church, “Our Lady of the Snows”, in what was soon a growing community of log buildings. In 1971, he left the priesthood and married Margaret Steen of Inuvik; the couple remained in Colville Lake and continued to be active members of the community.
In addition to his regular duties, Father Brown performed routine medical work and dentistry and has been a fire warden, dogcatcher, storekeeper, postmaster, and newspaper editor. He was also a prolific artist, creating many paintings and photographs, and published five books. Bern and Margaret Brown built and operated the Colville Lake Lodge as well as a small museum and art gallery.
Bern Will Brown died on July 4, 2014 at the age of 94.
John Phillip Matta was born in 1928 in Vancouver, British Columbia, the eldest of four children. His father worked in the mining industry and thus moved the family to mine sites in British Columbia and Quebec while John grew up. He graduated from high school in 1946, and worked in mines until 1953 when he chose to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. He spent 10 years in the RCAF as a photographer with photo intelligence. After leaving the Air Force he worked as a production manager for a photo finishing company until his retirement in 1991. He has lived in Calgary since 1954.
The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) was created on April 1, 2005 when the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development (RWED) split to create ITI and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).
The priorities of the Department include the overall economy of the territory, the sustainable development of natural and energy resources and needs assessments regarding related industries, industrial initiatives and the negotiation of agreements for proposed developments, development of traditional economy, and development of parks and tourism.
RWED transferred the responsibilities of the Economic Development division in several units: Tourism, Minerals, Oils and Gas, Investment and Economic Analysis and the Business Credit and NWT Development Corporations (which combined in 2006 to form the Business Development and Investment Corporation at arm’s length from ITI, and ceased to be part of the organizational chart of ITI in 2009-2010) to the newly formed ITI.
The Strategic Initiative division included the Diamond Projects, Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Office, Energy and Industrial Initiative units. Corporate Management division was comprised of the Directorate, Policy, Legislation and Communications (PLC) and Corporate Shared Services.
In 2006-2007 the divisions changed to Corporate Management, Economic Development (comprised of Tourism and Parks, Investment and Economic Analysis, and the NWT Business Development Investment Corporation), and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (comprised of Minerals, Oils and Gas, Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Office, Energy Planning, and Industrial Initiatives).
In 2008-2009 the divisions changed to Corporate Management, Energy, Tourism and Parks, Economic Diversification and Business Support, and Minerals and Petroleum Resources.
Initially, William Hoare left Ottawa for Herschel Island to act for the Anglican Church as a missionary. He returned after five years and married Catherine Cowan, who had been training to be a nurse in Ottawa. In 1920 they traveled to Aklavik, where they were to establish an Anglican mission. The couple remained in the north until 1931, with William Hoare eventually working for the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.) until 1931, when they returned to Ottawa.
Pierre Jean Baptiste Duchaussois, OMI, was born in Walincourt, France on August 4, 1878. He was ordained in 1903 as a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He was sent to Canada where he worked at the Sacred Heart Juniorate in the Sacred Heart parish from 1903-1906, and taught at the major seminary in Ottawa from 1906-1913. He was then sent west to the St. Joachim's parish in Edmonton from 1913-1915. From 1915-1921, he explored northern Canada in order to write about the missions of the far north. From 1921-1924 he lived in France, writing and giving speaking engagements. He spent time in Sri Lanka from 1924-1929, returning to Canada in 1929. From 1932-1935 he visited South Africa and Zaire. Returning to France for his health, he also worked on the production of his film "Aux glaces polaires". He died in Nice, France on November 9, 1940.
Pierre Duchaussois was a prolific and popular writer, speaker and teacher. His publications on northern Canada include "Les soeurs grises dans l'extreme-Nord: cinquante ans de missions" (1917), English version "The Grey Nuns in the far North 1867-1919" (1919); "Aux glaces polaires, Indiens et Esquimaux" (1921, 1928), English version "Mid snow and ice: the apostles of the North West" (1922); "Apotres inconnus: vie anecdotique des Freres coadjuteurs dans les missions arctiques" (1924), English version "Hidden apostles, or, our lay brother missionaries" (1937); "Femmes heroiques: les Soeurs Grises canadiennes aux glaces polaires" (1927, 1928, 1933, 1959). He was awarded the Prix Montyon de l'Academie francaise in 1921 for "Aux glaces polaires", and the Prix Juteau-Duvigneau for "Rose du Canada" in 1933.
Mildred Josephine Young was born in Toronto in 1924. A schoolteacher, at age 20 she went to the Yukon, and later Moose Factory, Ontario and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories at the age of 23 in 1947. She left Yellowknife for Southern Ontario in 1950. She later became a school inspector (classroom consultant), living in Winisk, Ontario where she met her husband George Hubbert. Millie Hubbert travelled to Fort Good Hope in 1969. Ms. Hubbert published three books in the 1990s, "Since the Day I Was Born", about her life growing up in depression-era Toronto and "Into Canada's North: Because It Was There", recalling her adventures teaching in the North. The third book, recalling her time in Winisk, was entitled "Winisk: On the Shore of Hudson Bay". The manuscript was completed shortly before her passing in March, 1997.
John "Jock" Murray McMeekan was born on January 3, 1903 in London, England and raised in Scotland. He studied romance languages and geology at London University for two years before immigrating to Canada. Between the years 1925 and 1935, he traveled across Canada writing and editing for various newspapers and prospecting for mining operations. In 1935, he arrived in Yellowknife and was employed by Burwash Yellowknife Mines to do prospecting, geological work and mapping. In 1940, Jock McMeekan started publishing the "Yellowknife Blade" which he published sporadically until 1953. In 1953, he moved to Uranium City in Saskatchewan and began publishing the "Uranium Era", which ran until 1960. He restarted the "Yellowknife Blade" in 1960, but stopped publishing it when he became associated with the "Mackenzie Press" in Hay River in 1962. He remained with the "Mackenzie Press" for only a short period and in 1963, he began publishing "The Hay River Optimist", which ran until his death on September 16, 1963. Jock's interest in prospecting and the mining industry is reflected in a number of his activities including his help in establishing the Prospectors Association and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio series "The Prospector Speaks" which aired between 1960 and 1962.
Mildred Itasca Hall was born in Iowa on October 23, 1899 and emigrated with her family to Olds, Alberta. She studied at the University of Alberta and became a schoolteacher. She moved to Yellowknife in 1938, and became the first public school teacher in the Northwest Territories. She married Jock McMeekan in 1941 and worked with him in the printing and publishing of the "Yellowknife Blade". She and Jock were devoted naturalists and loved to explore the land around Yellowknife. Mildred was intent on using whatever nature provided, picking berries and preserving food in the root cellar for the winter. Mildred also worked to publish her husband's works after his death, but died May 4, 1974 in Victoria B.C. before the project was completed. A former employee Gladys McCurdy Gould completed Mildred's work and published "Jock McMeekan's Yellowknife Blade" in 1984.
In 1948, Jock and Mildred accepted responsibility for raising Mildred's five-year-old niece, Hélène. Hélène (previously Giles, Henderson) Acikahte currently lives in Edmonton.
Beryl Lynette (Lyn) Hancock was born on January 5, 1938 in East Fremantle, Western Australia. She attended secondary school at Princess May School in Western Australia and attended the University of Western Australia between 1955-1957 where she received her diploma in Speech Arts and her Teachers' Certificate from Graylands Teachers College in 1956. She also attended the Trinity College the Royal Academy of Music in London, England where she studied Speech, Drama, Mime and Movement between 1959-1961. In 1977, she received her Teacher's certification from the British Columbia Department of Education. She also received her Bachelor of Education and Master of Arts degrees from Simon Fraser University in 1977 and 1981 respectively. Lyn Hancock moved to the Northwest Territories with her former husband David in 1972. While living in the NWT, she wrote and sold stories to newspapers and magazines such as Above and Beyond, Up Here, Northwest Explorer, Milepost, and Northern News Services; she also wrote and published several books about the North and took many photographs. In addition, Lyn worked with local tourism agencies and Government agencies to promote tourism and pass on her love of the North. She lived in Fort Simpson for seven years before leaving in 1995 with her husband Frank Schober. Lyn currently lives in British Columbia and travels extensively around the world. She has received several literary awards and is the author of over 30 books.