Norma was raised and educated in Old Crow, the most northerly community in the Yukon. She is a citizen of the Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation (People of the Lakes) and a member of the Wolf Clan. She gained her depth of traditional, scientific and ecological knowledge in Old Crow flats where her grandfather, mother and the land were the bearers of this invaluable, ancient knowledge, which was passed on to Norma at a very young age.
Encouraged by her Elders, Norma entered politics shortly after leaving school. In 1985, Norma was elected into Yukon’s Legislative Assembly as Member for Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation, a position she held until 1992. During this time, Norma was selected by the Elders of the Gwich’in Nation to act as a spokesperson on behalf of the Gwich’in people for the preservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd.
From 1995 to 1998 Norma was the Environmental Manager for the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN). In this capacity, she headed the CYFN Northern Contaminants Program and was Chair of Centre for Indigenous People Nutrition and Environment – CINE at McGill University.
In 2007, Norma co-founded the Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research and served as Director of Indigenous Collaboration to May 2019. The goal of AICBR is to promote community-based northern-led research aimed at improving the lives of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of the north and promoting the health of their environments.
Norma is an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Science at McGill University in Montreal, where she has co-led community-based research and training initiatives focussed on climate change adaptation. She also serves as Senior Advisor to the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, which advocates for Indigenous-led land use planning, Guardians programs, and the creation of Indigenous Protected Areas.
Canadian Mountain Network
Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Science
Indigenous Leadership Initiative