Man of many places

by Cam Stewart
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 22/97) - "I'm a Bay man," laughs Roy Desjarlais. "That's what you call a Hudson's Bay Man."

It was a long series of jobs with the Hudson's Bay Company that lured him to the North, and that's where he's remained for close to 40 years.

"All of the places are mostly the same, it's the people that are different," he says.

Since coming to Hay River, his first destination on the North of 60 tour, Roy has called many places home. Desjarlais spent time in Inuvik, Norman Wells, and since 1972 he's called Yellowknife home.

"I don't mind Yellowknife," said Desjarlais, but Aklavik was probably the most beautiful spot I've seen."

Currently Desjarlais works for the federal government as a financial analyst in Yellowknife, while devoting time to target better opportunities for aboriginal business and youth across the territory.

"I went to Victoria this year for the Indigenous Games, and have been involved since 1995," said Desjarlais.

He plans to remain active in promoting the Indigenous games "for a couple of more years until the organization is up and running," Desjarlais said.

He wants more kids to get involved with sports at the grassroots level, and hopefully stay out of trouble.

"My goal is to get kids motivated and out of the drug and alcohol scene." Desjarlais has a reputation throughout the NWT sporting world as a tireless basketball organizer and referee, but perhaps even more for his fashion, or lack thereof. "My sweater has all holes because the girls keep on tugging at it," he says.

Despite long hours devoted to volunteer service with aboriginal youth and sports, Desjarlais is also a player in the political arena.

He was involved in the development of the North Slave Housing Corporation, and the Metis Nation Development Corporation, which to Roy was his most prized accomplishment.

"We started the NWT Metis Development Corporation from the grassroots level," said Desjarlais. "It was our goal to get an economic arm, and today it's huge. We have some problems, but it's still one of the biggest in the NWT," he added.