Joseph Tokwiro Norton
Public Service (2002)
Not many leaders go from politician to statesman when they’re in their fifties, but Grand Chief Joseph Norton of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake has done just that. After the fires and anger of Oka, all sides of the racial, governmental and linguistic divides turned to Chief Norton in its aftermath. Tirelessly, honourably and fearlessly, he worked to diffuse the tensions and is still doing so today. “Over the years, the community has encountered a number of hurdles, controversies and challenges,” the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake says. “Grand Chief Norton has always managed to find an amicable solution without compromising the Mohawk people’s principles.” Chief Norton has approached these negotiations guided by the traditional Mohawk Confederacy belief that people negotiate government to government and always with tolerance, acceptance and a concern for mutual understanding. A respected Aboriginal voice both in Canada and abroad, Chief Norton has forever changed his community. While many on Bay Street were slow to recognize the Internet’s potential, Chief Norton was already there. He seized the opportunity and founded Mohawk Internet Technologies with an American partner. Today, the company employs more than 100 Mohawks, serves clients around the world and is a model for all First Nations. Chief Norton is also the founder and chair of the Tewatohni’saktha Economic Development Commission. It employs 500 band members and is geared towards a successful tomorrow. This, coupled with the advances Chief Norton has brought to Kahnawake in health care, education, care for seniors, made at home policing and culture and recreation, make him a great Aboriginal achiever.