Former NWT leader George Braden passes away

George Braden
George Braden in 1982. Photo: Harry Palmer.
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George Braden, Government Leader in the Northwest Territories from 1980 to 1984, has died.

The 65-year-old had been diagnosed with gastric cancer in March. He died in Nepean, Ontario, on Monday evening.

“His loving wife of 16 years, Lise, was at his side, and many of us were able to share a few precious hours with him over his final days,” said the Braden family in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“George was absolutely resolved that he would live his final days at his home with family and their three beloved spaniel dogs. With the remarkable care and compassion of Lise, and the regional community health service, his wish was fulfilled.

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“Throughout his short battle with the disease, George remained strong and positive and ever considerate of the lives of his family and many friends across the North and in Ottawa.”

Braden moved to Yellowknife in 1964 and entered politics as the MLA for Yellowknife North in 1979, in an era before the territory had a designated premier.

He went on to become leader of the executive, or government leader, in 1980.

In all but name, Braden was the first NWT premier of the modern day until the expiry of his term in 1984, when he did not seek re-election.

Since the role of the premier was formally introduced in 1994, Braden has been retroactively awarded the title. Prior to his appointment, the head of government was appointed by the Government of Canada and was referred to as the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories.

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Senator Dennis Patterson, for whom Braden recently worked as a policy advisor, paid tribute to George earlier this month.

“George and his colleagues [made] history in settling land claims,” said the Nunavut senator.

“In that connection, Mr Braden has always been proud.

“He was also the first leader in the long and ultimately successful process to assert the rightful place of the territories in First Ministers’ Conferences and constitutional patriation and reform.”

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The Braden family added: “We are intensely proud of the role George played in the evolution of the NWT.”

Braden is survived by his wife, Lise Beaudry-Braden; mother, Esther; sister, Sandra Dehnke; and brothers Bill, Max and Pat and their families. Plans for a family remembrance will be announced at a later date.

The family’s statement says “cards and remembrances are very welcome at this difficult time”:

Lise Beaudry-Braden, 9 Nottingham Court, Nepean ON K2J 4P4

The Bradens, Box 2403, Yellowknife NT X1A 2P8

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