GNWT 50 Quiz

Are you a history buff? Do you consider yourself a GNWT aficionado? Take our quiz to find out how much you really know about the history of the Government of the Northwest Territories. Challenge your friends to do the same.

For each question, pick the correct answer. Hint: to boost your score, we suggest reading the Moments and Milestones page before you start the quiz.



On September 18, 1967, a plane landed in Ottawa carrying 74 civil servants who were moving from Ottawa to Yellowknife. When he arrived in Yellowknife, what were Commissioner Stuart Hodgson’s first words?

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A second charter carried half a ton of paper per employee – a total of 46,800 pounds – as well as 11,500 pounds of books, records, reports and publications.

The Laing Building in downtown Yellowknife, was named for who?

NWT Archives/Northwest Territories. Department of Information fonds/G-1979-023: 2120
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The Arthur Laing building in Yellowknife first opened on June 14th, 1969. Today it holds the offices for the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs and the Department of Finance.

In what year was the NWT flag that is used today first introduced?

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The NWT flag was designed through a Canada wide contest.

In what year did NWT licence plates first appear in their iconic polar bear shape?

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The polar bear plate was selected by a contest held to mark the Territory’s Centennial anniversary in 1970. The first polar bear license plate had a blue background with white lettering.

Lena Pedersen has a special place in the history of the GNWT. What is she known for?

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Lena Pedersen was born in Greenland and moved to the Northwest Territories at the age of 19.

In 1971, the GNWT took over responsibility for which government service?

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Today, the NWT territorial court system features several alternative court processes. Specialized courts focus on improving community safety and helping offenders deal with the issues behind the offending behavior.

For the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry and Berger Report, Justice Thomas Berger conducted the first public consultation of Indigenous Canadians on a resource policy issue. He visited 35 communities and listened to almost 1000 people’s views about the construction of the gas pipeline. What was the timeframe of the inquiry?

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When Justice Berger arrived in the communities, he said: “OK, I’m here. I’ll stay as long as you want me to. I want to know what you think about this. You live here, it’s going to affect you, it’s your future.”

In 1975, the 8th NWT Council was the first to be fully elected by NWT residents. It was also remarkable for what other reason?

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This has been the case for every Legislative Assembly ever since.

In 1975, the Dene of the NWT issued the “Dene Declaration” calling for what?

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More than 300 delegates from all Denendeh communities gathered in Fort Simpson to approve the statement. The delegates at this Second General Assembly represented the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories and the Metis Association of the Northwest Territories.

In 1976, the NWT Council officially became known as the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly chose its own Speaker and named how many members to the Executive Committee?

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The Speaker was David Searle.

Before the Legislative Assembly was built, sessions were often held in Yellowknife hotels?

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In 1990, Speaker Richard Nerysoo announced the decision to construct a long-awaiting permanent Legislative Assembly building. The building was completed and opened to the public in 1993.

George Braden was the first elected Government Leader (1980), but this person was the first to call themselves “Premier”.

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The territories do not have the same status as provinces under the Constitution. That is why in the past, the head of the territorial government was referred to as Government Leader, rather than Premier. Today, territorial leaders are commonly referred to as premiers.

When the NWT Official Languages Act was first passed in 1984, recognized 7 Aboriginal languages in addition to English and French. Which two languages were not yet included?

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The Northwest Territories' Official Languages Act recognizes eleven official languages, which is more than any other country in the Americas: Chipewyan, Cree, English, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey and Tłįchǫ.

In what year was the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement signed?

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Under the agreement, the the Gwich’in received title to 22,422 square kilometres of land in the Northwest Territories and 1,554 square kilometres of land in the Yukon. Of the land in the NWT, the Gwich'in have title to 6,158 square kilometres of the subsurface, including mines and minerals.

When the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) was signed in 1984, it became the first land claim agreement in Canada.

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The IFA was the second modern-day treaty negotiated in Canada. The James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (1975) was the first.

NWT communities began the process of reclaiming their Aboriginal names in what year?

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To learn the history of all NWT community names, consult the Northwest Territories Official Community Names and Pronunciation Guide (

When a vote on the creation of Nunavut was held in 1982, it passed. How many residents of the NWT voted in support of division?

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This was the first territory-wide plebiscite ever conducted in Northwest Territories history. The question was quite simple: “Do you think the Northwest Territories should be divided?” It took three more plebiscites and 17 years before Nunavut was created in 1999.

When the 10th Assembly was elected in 1983, how many elected members were there?

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The spring session of the Legislative Assembly was held from June 5 to June 13, 1985, in the gymnasium of Maani Ulujuk School in Rankin Inlet. This was the first time since 1976 that the Legislature had met in that community.

Arctic College (the predecessor of Aurora College) was first established in 1976.

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The history of the college, as a campus-based institution, finds its roots in 1968 when a Heavy Equipment Operator course was offered at Fox Holes, just west of Fort Smith. In 1969, the training was moved to Fort Smith and the Adult Vocational Training Centre (AVTC) was established. In 1981, AVTC was declared a college and renamed Thebacha College. Then in 1984, Arctic College was created. The college was split into two colleges in 1995: Nunavut Arctic College in the Eastern Arctic, and Aurora College in the Western Arctic.

Which notable person dedicated the Legislative Assembly Chamber in 1994?

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The Chamber is at the heart of the building. Its circular shape represents both the cultural traditions of northern Aboriginal people and the Territory’s unique form of consensus government. Members’ desks are arranged in a circle around the Speaker’s chair, symbolizing a unity of purpose.

In the end, the new western territory after the creation of Nunavut kept the name “Northwest Territories”, but there were other names that had popular support. Which name was NOT in the running at any time?

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Denendeh – which means “our land” – was advocated by the former Premier Stephen Kakfwi, among others. The name “Bob” began as a prank, but for a while it topped the public-opinion polls.

In 1996, the GNWT instituted a week without pay over the Christmas holidays as a cost-cutting measure. Frustrated public servants called them “donation days” which eventually got shortened to “Donny days”.

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They were dubbed Donny Days because they were announced by then-Premier Don Morin.

In 2001, members of the 14th Legislative Assembly passed the National Aboriginal Day Act. This made the NWT the first jurisdiction in Canada to recognize this day as a statutory holiday.

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The Yukon officially recognized NAD as a statutory holiday just this year.

In 2005, the Tłı̨chǫ Agreement, which had been signed by the Tłı̨chǫ people, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada, came into effect. It was the first agreement in the NWT to do what?

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The agreement was also the first to integrate Dene words into the territory’s governance. It established Mǫwhì Gogha Dè Nı̨ı̨tłèè as the traditional area of the Tłı̨chǫ and the Wek’èezhìı Land and Water Board.

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