Les Carpenter, CBC broadcaster turned CKLB manager, has passed away aged 61 following a short illness.

Carpenter stepped away from his position as chief executive of the Native Communications Society of the NWT earlier this year to address his ill health. The society owns and operates CKLB, which is the territory’s independent, primarily Indigenous-language radio station.

In a short statement delivered on Tuesday’s edition of the CBC news program Northbeat, Carpenter’s family said he would be “sorely missed by family and countless friends around the world.”

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Carpenter grew up in Sachs Harbour and Inuvik, his biography on CKLB’s website reads, attending residential school in Inuvik before studying at the University of Western Ontario.

He began his broadcasting career with the CBC in Inuvik, then left the industry in 1984. 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.

“Radio was something of a solace,” Carpenter said during a panel discussion in 2011.

“I remember staring at the radio [at residential school], hanging on to every word that was said,” he said at the time. “It was my only connection to my parents and my community.”

Cabin Radio extends condolences to Les’s family and our friends and colleagues at both CKLB and CBC, who worked with Les.