Les Carpenter among 2018 Order of the NWT recipients

A file photo of Les Carpenter posted on CKLB's website
A file photo of Les Carpenter posted on CKLB's website.

Les Carpenter, the late northern broadcaster and leader, is one of three people to receive the Order of the Northwest Territories this year.

Carpenter passed away in July, aged 61, following a short illness. As chief executive of the territory’s Native Communications Society he ran the Indigenous-language radio station CKLB.

Also receiving the Order of the NWT – the highest honour the territory can bestow on a resident – are Lillian Elias and Sharon Firth.

Elias, from Inuvik, is recognized for her Indigenous language advocacy. Firth, a four-time Olympian, is honoured for her work in the field of sports and recreation.



All three will formally receive the Order at a ceremony in the territorial legislature on Tuesday, October 30 at 11:30am. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

“These three recipients have made differences in the lives of northerners,” said Tim Mercer, secretary to the advisory council which selects recipients for the award.

Mercer called Carpenter, who grew up in Sachs Harbour and Inuvik, a “northern leader in communications.”

He attended residential school in Inuvik before beginning his broadcast career with the CBC locally. His subsequent roles ranged from mayor of Sachs Harbour to founding chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and member of the United Nations’ special task force on Aboriginal peoples.



Carpenter returned to broadcasting in 2000 in Yukon, spending eight years in Whitehorse before assuming his role at the Native Communications Society in Yellowknife.

Elias is receiving the Order for her work with the Inuvialuit language and her wider role promoting the revitalization of Indigenous languages.

She attended residential school in Aklavik where, despite being taught exclusively in English, she maintained her Inuvialuktun language by speaking it during the summer and interpreting for her grandmother and others at the local hospital and government offices.

Elias integrated her language into her classrooms as a teacher, organized language symposiums, and served on the International Inuit Elders Council of the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

Completing a trio of Beaufort Delta nominees, Firth was born in Aklavik before moving to Inuvik for school.

In 1967, she was introduced to the sport of cross-country skiing – developing alongside her sister, Shirley, into one of Canada’s top ski racers, attending the Olympic Games in 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984.

Firth now serves as a role model for youth and helps lead the implementation of sports and recreation programming in the North.

She received the Order of Canada in 1987 and is a member of the Skiing Hall of Fame.



“Each of these northerners are deserving of this honour and inspire us to expand our horizons and give back to our communities,” said Mercer.

The Order of the Northwest Territories was established in 2013 by the Territorial Emblems and Honours Act.

The award recognizes individuals who “serve with the greatest distinction and excel in any field of endeavour benefiting the people of the NWT or elsewhere.”

Membership of the Order entitles you to wear its insignia as a decoration and use the initials ONWT after your name.