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Nellie Cournoyea

In office
1991 – 1995
Preceded by Dennis Patterson
Succeeded by Don Morin

MLA for Western Arctic
In office
1979 – 1983
Preceded by John Steen
Succeeded by riding dissolved

In office
1983 – 1995
Preceded by new district
Succeeded by Vince Steen

Born March 4, 1940 (1940-03-04) (age 69)
Aklavik, Northwest Territories
Political party non-partisan consensus government

Nellie Cournoyea, OC (born March 4, 1940 in Aklavik, Northwest Territories) is a former Canadian politician, who served as Premier of the Northwest Territories from 1991 to 1995. She was the first female premier of a Canadian territory, and the second female leader of an elected legislature in Canada after Rita Johnston in British Columbia.

Cournoyea is of mixed Norwegian and Inupiaq heritage.

Before entering politics, Cournoyea was an announcer and station manager for CBC North in Inuvik, and a land claims worker for the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada.

She was first elected to the territorial Legislative Assembly in 1979, representing the electoral district of Western Arctic until it was dissolved in 1983, and then the new district of Nunakput for the remainder of her career in politics. She served the government in a variety of cabinet positions.

On November 14, 1991, she was chosen as premier under the territory's consensus government system, in which the premier is chosen by elected members following the general election. Cournoyea served as premier until 1995, and subsequently chose not to stand for reelection to the Legislative Assembly. She currently serves as chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.

She was a winner of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 1994, and has been awarded honorary doctorates in law from Lakehead University, Carleton University and the University of Toronto.

In 2008, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada[1] as well as inducted into the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame.[2]

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