Until 1967, the Northwest Territories was governed from Ottawa by appointees who rarely visited the land or peoples they controlled. As part of his drive to integrate and modernize the country, Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson ordered Stuart Hodgson, a feisty British Columbia labour leader and founding member of the NDP, to move a fledgling government to Yellowknife and bring the North into the twentieth century.
Umingmak recounts Hodgson's indefatigable, and often controversial, efforts to introduce self—government and improve the lives of Northerners from 1967 to 1979. Beginning with an unprecedented winter tour of remote Arctic communities, Hodgson's initiatives ranged from the practical (helping Inuit citizens choose surnames to replace government—issued ID numbers) to the visionary (founding the Arctic Winter Games) to the grandiose (organizing three Royal visits).
Jake Ootes worked for several Ontario community newspapers before joining the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources. Moving to Yellowknife in 1967, he served as Hodgson's executive assistant and then as the first Director of the Territorial Department of Information, responsible for all government public affairs and communications. He now resides in British Columbia.