Support from northerners like you keeps our journalism alive. Sign up here.



Recognition of late Betty Harnum leads culture and heritage awards

Betty Harnum is pictured in 2019. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio

The late Betty Harnum, who served as the NWT’s first languages commissioner before her passing in 2022, is among the latest recipients of territorial culture and heritage awards.

The Minister’s Culture and Heritage Circle award winners for 2022 were named this month, recognizing outstanding contributions to the arts, culture, heritage and Indigenous languages in the NWT.

Harnum, who was languages commissioner from 1992 to 1996, “loved languages and culture,” culture minister RJ Simpson said in the legislature. After passing away at the age of 73, she posthumously receives the Indigenous Language Revitalization Award.

“In her nearly 50 years in the North, Betty helped to establish the Goyatikǫ Language Society, led the CBC Indigenous Language Archive Project, and developed a Dëne Dédlıné dictionary and Inuinnaqtun dictionary,” Simpson said.



Other 2022 winners include Yellowknife resident Karen Wasicuna for her “passion and support for dance and performing arts,” and Fort Smith’s Peter Paulette for his promotion of hand games and drumming.

A group award goes to the Deh Gáh Art Collective, which provides 16-week skill-building programs for Fort Providence artists.

Hay River’s Linda Duford receives the Minister’s Choice Award for her work to revive fiddling in the North. Simpson, a Hay River MLA, said Duford had “taught and inspired countless youth all over the territories by enthusiastically sharing her love of music.”