Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle Awards

The Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle Awards honour the efforts of residents who work to strengthen the arts, cultures, heritage, and languages of the Northwest Territories.  Recipients are chosen from nominations put forward by other northerners in five different categories.

The purpose of these awards is to celebrate outstanding leadership in the North.  The Minister’s Culture and Heritage Circle helps build awareness among all northerners about the importance of promoting, protecting, preserving and celebrating our unique cultures and ways of life.

Nomination Categories

Youth Category 

A person 25 years of age and under, who demonstrates a strong commitment to engaging in the arts, cultural learning and cultural practices of the North.

Individual Category

Individuals 26 years of age and older, who demonstrate a strong commitment to preserving and promoting culture through participation in various arts, culture and heritage-related activities.

Elders Category 

Persons 50 years of age and older, who are recognized by their community or region for their guidance and leadership in practicing, promoting or teaching in areas of arts, culture and heritage.

Group Category 

Any organization, corporation, institution, committee or social club that plays a lead role in developing and supporting activities that celebrate, promote or preserve the arts, culture and heritage.

Indigenous Language Category 

Any individual or group whose efforts increase the presence, visibility, use, or scope of languages in communities.

Minister's Choice Award

Minister's Choice Award is given to an exemplary person or group at the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment's discretion.


  • Must be a current resident of the Northwest Territories (except where awarded posthumously)
  • Must have made a significant contribution to the arts, culture, heritage, or Indigenous language revitalization
  • Must be independently motivated by a genuine desire to make a difference

Past Recipients

2020 Recipients

  • Youth: Kaysea Fountain, Fort Resolution
  • Individual: Myrna Pokiak, Yellowknife
  • Elder: Rosalind Mercredi, Yellowknife
  • Group: Collège Nordique Francophone, Yellowknife
  • Indigenous Languages: Angelina Fabien, Fort Resolution
  • Minister’s Choice: Lawrence Nayally, Wrigley

2019 Recipients

  • Corbin Sinclair - Youth Award
  • Karen Novak - Individual Award
  • Alfred Taneton - Elder Award
  • Northern Life Museum and Cultural Centre - Group/Organization Award
  • Mildred Edwards - Minister's Choice Award

2018 Recipients

  • Alice Twa - Youth Award
  • Tishna Marlowe - Individual Award
  • Joanne Tetlichi - Elder Award
  • Old Town Community Association - Group/Organization Award
  • Designated Gwich'in Organization, Fort McPherson - Minister's Choice Award

2017 Recipients

  • Dang-Dang Gruben - Youth Award
  • Kiera-Dawn Kolson - Individual Award
  • Catherine Bell Sanguez - Elder Award
  • JBT Dance Group - Group/Organization Award
  • Dene Nahjo - Minister's Choice Award

2016 Recipients

  • Jessie Campbell - Individual Award
  • Marilyn Maring - Youth Award 
  • Edward Oudzi - Elder Award 
  • Open Sky Creative Society - Group/Organization Award 
  • Sandra Ipana - Minister's Choice Award

2015 Recipients

  • 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am NWT Youth Ambassador - Youth
  • Jeanna Graham of Hay River Reserve - Elder
  • Berna Beaulieu of Behchokǫ̀  - Individual
  • Yellowknife Ukrainian Association - Group
  • Vivian Edgi-Manuel of Fort Good Hope - Minister's Choice Award

2014 Recipients:

  • Janelle Nitsiza - Youth
  • Camilla Tutcho - Elder
  • Rene Fumoleau - Individual
  • Foster Family Coalition of the NWT - Group
  • Deninu K'ue First Nation - Minister's Choice Award

2013 Recipients

  • Justin Memogana of Ulukhaktok - Youth
  • Emily Kudlak of Ulukhaktok - Elder
  • David Gon of Behchokǫ̀ - Individual
  • Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute - Group
  • Yellowknife Choral Society - Minister's Choice Award

2012 Recipients

  • Doris Taneton of Deline - Youth
  • Lillian Elias of Inuvik - Elder
  • Melaw Nakehk'o of Fort Simpson - Individual
  • Tlicho Imbe Program - Group
  • Jean Harry of Sachs Harbour - Minister's Choice Award

2011 Recipients

  • Evan Tordiff of Fort Smith - Youth
  • Abel Tingmiak of Inuvik - Elder
  • Ben Nind of Yellowknife - Individual
  • Aklavik Delta Drummers and Dancers - Group
  • Chief Jimmy Bruneau School: Trails of Our Ancestors, Behchoko - Minister's Choice Award