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NWT Residents Honoured at Minister’s Cultural Circle Ceremony

Museum Alive! Open House

YELLOWKNIFE (October 17, 2012) – Five Northwest Territories residents and organizations were honoured this morning at the second annual Minister’s Cultural Circle Award Ceremony. The event took place in the Great Hall of the Legislative Assembly and was as a way to recognise the important and lasting contributions of those dedicated to the arts and cultures of the North.

“Arts, culture and heritage play an important role in the Northwest Territories,” said the Honourable Jackson Lafferty, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. “They weave a culturally diverse mosaic of who we are as individuals and as a territory. This year’s recipients pride themselves on making a positive and lasting impact on the lives of countless NWT residents, and I applaud them for their outstanding achievement and passion.”

The Minister’s Cultural Circle provides lasting recognition of those who contribute to the preservation and promotion of culture and heritage in the NWT. It helps build awareness among all northerners about the importance of promoting, protecting, preserving and celebrating our unique culture, heritage and ways of life. An independent panel of judges chose one recipient from each of the four categories, with a fifth recipient receiving the Minister’s Choice Award.

The 2012 Minister’s Cultural Circle recipients are:

  • Doris Taneton from Deline – Youth Category;
  • Lillian Elias from Inuvik – Elder Category;
  • Melaw Nakehk’o from Fort Simpson – Individual Category;
  • Tłı̨chǫ Imbe Program – Group Category; and
  • Jean Harry from Sachs Harbour – Minister’s Choice Award.

More information about each recipient is available below.

2012 Minister’s Cultural Circle Award Recipients:

Spending time with Elders and working with language, traditional knowledge and cultural projects, 23-year-old Doris Taneton is a strong young aboriginal leader. She is fluent in both English and North Slavey, participates in northern governance conferences and dedicates time to working with local projects such as the Deline Knowledge Project.

Reflecting on what it means to practice traditional culture in a contemporary world, Melaw Nakehk’o demonstrates a strong level of commitment and enthusiasm to share her journey of learning the knowledge of her elders. Earlier this year, she set out to learn the art of tanning moosehides and has since been supporting other women wanting to learn the art form, thereby beginning a cultural revitalization movement among the younger generations of the Northwest Territories.

Since retiring from her position as an Inuvialuktun teacher, Lillian Elias has only increased her pride and passion in preserving her language and culture. She continues teaching the language to adults in her community in the evening; she hosts an annual language camp for youth and young children at her bush camp; and she assists the cultural centre, aboriginal languages programs and elementary language teachers with the making of language materials. Her passion is to see all young adults in her community speak Inuvialuktun.

Recognizing that youth were struggling to be “strong like two people” after leaving their communities to attend post-secondary school or employment opportunities, the Tłı̨chǫ Government introduced the Tłı̨chǫ Imbe Program in 2011. This summer employment program hires Tłı̨chǫ youth to spend eleven weeks in their own communities, working with and learning from community Elders, and learning modern safety skills and technology. Youth earn first aid, canoe safety and GPS mapping certification as well as learning traditional skills, such as fishing, drum and paddle making, sewing, hide preparation, traditional medicines and travel routes. The Tłı̨chǫ Imbe Program is the beginning of a successful cultural revitalization in all the Tlicho communities.

As both an artist and an Inuvialuktun language teacher, Jean Harry’s work has profoundly impacted the younger generations of Sachs Harbour residents to continue learning their language. Through her love of her language and culture, she has influenced the development of many leaders, teachers and young Inuvialuit across the North. For all her work in and support of the Inuvialuktun language and culture, Jean Harry receives the Minister’s Choice Award.

For more information contact:

Ashley Green
Public Affairs Officer
Education, Culture and Employment
Phone: (867) 920-3059
Email: ashley_green@gov.nt.ca