Tony Whitford: John Parker's tribute to Stuart Hodgson

(Check against delivery)

Thank you Speaker Lafferty and good afternoon, everyone.

As Executive Assistant to former Commissioner John H. Parker for many years, and having worked with the Government of the Northwest Territories under Commissioner Hodgson’s leadership, I am honoured to have been asked to share with you this afternoon -- Mr. Parker’s tribute for Stuart M. Hodgson, our first resident Commissioner of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Parker’s message is as follows:

“I very much regret being unable to be present with you today, but this day falls in the middle of a two-week period when Helen and I are out of the country.  Our thoughts are with you all.

“I was privileged to work with Stuart Hodgson during his time as Commissioner.   As his Deputy, we shared many experiences and challenges.  He truly was a remarkable man and his contribution to the development of all levels of government in the NWT was huge.

“It was an honor for Helen and me to be present at the memorial held for him in Vancouver on January 14th.  I was asked to speak at that service, and the thoughts I expressed then are even more appropriate here in Yellowknife.

“Stu Hodgson was a big man, with big visions, and the energy and ability to carry them out, which he did.  He was a friend, a compatriot, and a leader. 

“Arthur Laing, then Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources, appointed him to the Territorial Council as a Member, briefly, then Deputy Commissioner, then in 1967, he appointed Stu as Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, and me as Deputy Commissioner.

“On Sept. 18, 1967, we moved the tiny Territorial Administration from Ottawa to Yellowknife in two chartered aircraft:  a DC-7 and a DC-4.  We stopped en-route for fuel at Churchill, which was then a Territorial administration centre for the Keewatin, and Stu immediately commenced to engage Northern people by making a speech to all the assembled staff.

“After arrival in Yellowknife and moving quickly to recruit additional staff, Stu commenced travelling throughout the Territories.   He saw the importance for him to acquaint himself with the huge area, and even more important to become known to the people in all communities.  This was one of his greatest strengths.  He very quickly became well liked and admired.

“He worked effectively with the Territorial Council, and promoted its development as the legislative body of the Northwest Territories.

“Stuart recognized the importance of developing a broad Canadian interest in the Northwest Territories, and achieved this thorough the 1970 visits of the Queen, and members of the Royal family, followed by the Prime Minister, Federal Ministers and business leaders.

“After twelve years of devoted service to the Northwest Territories, Stu recognized that he could move on to other challenges.  He knew that the elected members of the Territorial Legislature were ready to play a larger role, as exemplified by David Searle, who was Speaker of the Assembly.

“Stuart Hodgson was a powerful force in the development of government in the North and his leadership shaped events in the ensuing years.  He is remembered to this day, with great affection and respect.

With fond regards and farewell to my friend, Stu,

John H. Parker, O.C. (Officer of the Order of Canada)