Joining the CMN team in January 2018, Norma Kassi was raised and educated in Old Crow, Yukon; She is Vuntut Gwitchin (People of the Lakes) and a member of the Wolf Clan. It was in Old Crow flats where she gained her depth of traditional, scientific and ecological knowledge. Her grandfather, mother and the land were the bearers of this invaluable, ancient knowledge, which was passed on to her at a very young age.
Encouraged by her Elders, she entered politics shortly after leaving school. In 1985, she was elected into Yukon’s Legislative Assembly as Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, a position she held until 1992. During this time, she was selected by the Elders of the Gwitchin Nation to act as a spokesperson on behalf of the Gwitchin people for the preservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. In 1991 she was awarded the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation and Achievement Award, and the Goldman Prize in 2002, one of the world’s highest profile awards for Conservation. From 1995 to 1998, due to concern of contaminants in traditional foods, she was the Environmental Manager for the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN).
Norma co-founded Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research and, following a break to serve as the elected Chief of Vuntut Gwitchin in November 2010, serves as Director of Indigenous Collaboration. As Director of Indigenous Collaboration with AICBR, she is engaged in Community Based Health Research, particularly with Yukon First Nations.