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Akaitcho executive dies

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Fort Resolution (Dec 19/05) - Fort Resolution has been shocked by the unexpected death of a prominent resident.

Marilyn Sanderson, executive director of the Akaitcho Territory Government since 1991, died in her sleep on Dec. 11 of natural causes. She was 39.

Chief Robert Sayine of Deninu Ku'e First Nation, says he couldn't believe it when he heard of Sanderson's sudden passing.

"She was very well-respected," Sayine says. "Everything that happened with Akaitcho went through her."

Sanderson looked after the day-to-day affairs of the organization.

The Akaitcho Territory includes First Nations in Fort Resolution, Fort Smith, Lutsel K'e and Yellowknife, along with Smith's Landing First Nation in northern Alberta.

Sanderson was well known for her volunteer work with Fort Resolution youth and sports teams.

"She was always doing something in the community," says her sister, Jayne Miersch.

Sanderson also received the 2004 Wise Woman Award for the South Slave.

The awards are presented by the Status of Women Council of the NWT.

"As young as she was, she seemed to have answers for everything."

In the 1990s, Sanderson co-created a board game called TOPONA, which stands for The Original People of North America. It featured 500 questions about the continent's aboriginal people.

Born in Saskatchewan, Sanderson moved to Fort Resolution with her parents in 1975.

She was married to Arthur Sanderson and had three teenage children: Jimmy, 17, Jessica, 16, and Jenny, 13.