Chief Betsy Kennedy, O.M.
Betsy Kennedy has been chief of War Lake First Nation since 2006 and is the longest-serving female chief in Manitoba. During her time in office, the First Nation has seen the development of a new nursing station, a new store, a garage, a water treatment plant, a youth centre and a community fish facility. Prior to becoming chief, she served as a councillor for eight years.
She was one of the four Northern Manitoba chiefs who signed the Joint Keeyask Development Agreement with Manitoba Hydro and the provincial government ,at Split Lake in 2009 and addressed the House of Commons committee on the status of women in 2014 about the need for better service from the federal government for women and children living in First Nations.
Kennedy was part of a delegation from Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents 30 Northern Manitoba First Nations, that travelled to London, England, in October, 2013, to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763.
Kennedy serves on the board of the Arctic Gateway Group, and was a key part of the negotiations that brought the Hudson Bay Railway and the Port of Churchill into the Arctic Gateway Group, perhaps appropriate for someone born at a railroad work camp, in Herchmer, (Mile Marker 412 of the Hudson Bay Railway), south of Churchill.
Kennedy received the Order of Manitoba in 2016, for health, environmental and economic contributions to her community. In marking the event, the CBC reported: “She fought for the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women to be recognized as valuable long before Canada allowed for the conversation.”