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Recognition for service
Long-service awards given to territorial government employees

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 28, 2012

Territorial government employees in the Deh Cho were thanked for their years of dedication and service during a ceremony in Fort Simpson on June 8.

NNSL photo/graphic

Chris Hewitt, right, the district director for the NWT Housing Corporation, presents his co-worker Betty Hardisty with a long-term service award for her 25 years with the territorial government. The government's long-term service award ceremony for the Deh Cho was held in Fort Simpson on June 8. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

The government's long-term service awards were presented that afternoon at the Seven Spruce Golf Course clubhouse. The length of service for the 39 recognized employees ranged from five to 35 years.

The 69 territorial government employees in the Deh Cho have 915 combined years of service, said Paul Simon, a human resources services assistant with the Department of Human Resources, who organized the ceremony.

Having long-term co-workers has been one the highlights of Kathy Tsetso's career with the territorial government. During the ceremony, Tsetso, the chief executive officer for Dehcho Health and Social Services, was recognized for her 30 years of service.

"It's having those relations with long-term community employees that's been wonderful," said Tsetso, who noted she's been working with Diane Edwards, who has 42 years of service, since she started.

Tsetso began working with the Department of Health and Social Services in 1982 as a social worker. At the time, she was one of only two social workers for the whole region. Today there are five in Fort Simpson alone, she said.

"It's changed," she said. "It was exciting back then; it was challenging and exciting."

Tsetso continued as a social worker until 1988 when she returned to school to get her diploma in social work. In 1990, she applied for the superintendent trainee program with the Department of Education.

It was a short training period, she said. Tsetso entered the program in August and was put on the job as a superintendent in December, tasked with the challenge of setting up a regional social services office in Fort Simpson.

"It was learn by fire," she said.

The changes continued as social services amalgamated with health in 1995 and decentralization took place in the following two years. Dehcho Health and Social Services emerged and Tsetso became its chief executive officer, a role she's held ever since.

It was a lot of work but exciting to establish the regional health authority and its board, said Tsetso

"It's a challenging job but it makes it more rewarding when you have support from staff and community members and community governments to do it," she said.

Tsetso is now planning her retirement. She said it's time someone else takes on the challenge.

Ron Hardisty has also seen a lot of changes during his time with the territorial government.

Hardisty, who's originally from Jean Marie River, began 30 years ago as a local government officer with the Department of Local Government, now the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA).

Through his years with the department, Hardisty has held a number of positions including regional superintendent of MACA, community development co-ordinator for the Deh Cho region and since 2008 the training development co-ordinator with the School of Community Government. Hardisty said the biggest change in the last 30 years is that communities are now doing more for themselves.

Decisions are being made closer to the people in the communities and that has been a positive development, he said. The emergence of aboriginal and local managers has also had a positive impact on the territorial government, he said.

Hardisty said he has enjoyed supporting capacity-building, community development and training for the community governments.

"It is very rewarding to have clients really engaged and interested in their personal capacity-building," he said.

With 30 years of experience Hardisty said he's not looking at retirement yet. He's also not alone in his service to the government.

Hardisty's wife, Betty Hardisty, received an award for 25 years of service. She is currently a programs adviser with the NWT Housing Corporation.

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