Nick Sibbeston

For Nick Sibbeston – a Métis born in the rugged North West Territories – it takes one key ingredient to mount a groundbreaking career in politics: you have to want to make a difference. Born in an era when the Canadian north was governed from Ottawa like a far-flung colony, Senator Sibbeston set out to make a difference. A young man who bore the scars of life in a Northern residential school, Senator Sibbeston soon became the first Aboriginal lawyer in the history of the Northwest Territories. Many would have stopped here, but not him.  He rode his anger at the way the people of the North were unjustly governed right to the top of his territory’s legislative assembly. By 1979, he was elected a MLA. By 1984, he was a cabinet minister. Only two years later, he was Premier of the Northwest Territories, only the second Aboriginal person to have served in that office. In office as the government’s leader, Senator Sibbeston fought to have all the NWT’s indigenous languages made official, along with English and French. To advance his goal, Senator Sibbeston took to his feet in the assembly during an historic filibuster and filled the air with Slavey. He made his point. Today there are nine different Aboriginal languages spoken and translated in the assembly. In 1999, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien telephoned Senator Sibbeston at his Fort Simpson home and asked him to take a seat in the Senate of Canada. Senator Sibbeston – businessman, politician, community justice specialist and cultural advisor to CBC’s North of 60 – has been serving in the Red Chamber with distinction ever since.