Jackson Lafferty resigns as MLA, says running for Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief is his ‘next journey’

Jackson Lafferty is the MLA for Monfwi. (File photo/CKLB)

After 16 years in the Legislative Assembly, Jackson Lafferty, the MLA for Monfwi, has resigned from the position. But with the Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief election looming, this may not be the end of his political career.

Looking back on his time in the Legislative Assembly, Lafferty said he has many special memories that stick out, but he particularly references the Elders who have helped him along the way. 

“It’s been a good journey that I’ve been on and I truly enjoyed it,” he says, “but there’s lots of work ahead of us.” 

In announcing his resignation, Lafferty said his work as MLA often took him away from his family, sometimes missing important milestones for his children. He also said the recent discovery of a mass grave on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School made him realize the importance of family. He thanked his longtime assistants, and family for helping him through the past 16 years — becoming emotional when talking about his wife’s support over that time.

As for what comes next, Lafferty says he believes it is time to run for Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief. 

“I’ve been asked on numerous occasions,” he explains, “and now I think the opportunity is here… And that’s my next journey. I’m basing this on my people’s direction, these are the same people that asked me to run for MLA.”  

First elected in 2005, Lafferty served as a cabinet minister in the 17th Assembly.

Lafferty is the only person to serve as MLA for Monfwi since the Tłı̨chǫ nation signed land claim and self-government agreement in 2005.

In this role, he was the deputy premier; minister of Education, Culture and Employment; minister responsible for official languages; and minister responsible for the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission.

In the 18th Assembly he was selected as the Speaker of the House by his peers.

Lafferty was one of four candidates for premier in the 19th assembly, losing to Caroline Cochrane. 

Lafferty was a regular critic of the 19th assembly, repeatedly clashing with the premier, especially on the firing of former Aurora College President Tom Weegar. 

He was even booted from the House after refusing to apologize to the premier in March 2020 when he alleged Cochrane had overstepped her authority in firing Weegar.

Lafferty was also a tireless advocate for language rights. The day before he was booted, Lafferty raised a point of privilege when no Tłı̨chǫ interpreter was available at the Legislative Assembly, something he argued prevented him from doing his job.

A by-election will be held for the Monfwi riding which includes Behchokǫ̀, Gamètì, Whatì and Wekweètì. It is up to the NWT Elections Officer to determine when the by-election will be held.

With files from Francis Tessier-Burns.

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at luke.carroll@cklbradio.com