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Long-serving administrator retires
John McKee hangs his hat after nearly two-decade long tenure with hamlet

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Hamlet of Fort Liard employee who has watched the community grow, develop and take on more responsibilities had his last day of work on Feb. 21.

nnsl photo

John McKee, right, seen here presenting Susan Christie, the Hamlet of Fort Providence's senior administrative officer, with the first Outstanding Local Government Administrator Award of the NWT in October 2010. McKee retired on Feb. 21 after 19 years and 11 months as the Hamlet of Fort Liard's senior administrative officer. - NNSL file photo

John McKee, the hamlet's senior administrative officer (SAO), is now retired. He has been the SAO for most of the hamlet's history, after starting on March 21, 1994, just seven years after Fort Liard was incorporated.

McKee acknowledged that his tenure as SAO has been unusually long.

"You don't see that anymore," he said.

McKee's connection with the hamlet and the North goes much farther back, however. He began his career in the NWT in Iqaluit (before Nunavut became its own territory) approximately 43 years ago with the Power Corporation, which was a federal crown corporation at the time.

That work took him to different communities including Yellowknife and Fort Simpson. He was in Inuvik when the position of community secretary for Fort Liard was advertised and he applied.

As employees of the territorial government, the community secretaries provided administrative support to communities and offered government services like motor vehicle licences, said McKee.

"We were the territorial government representative," he said.

Becoming connected to the highway system is one of the biggest changes McKee says he's seen in the community. When he started there was no highway north or south and people could only drive out in the winter over the winter road.

After approximately nine years as a community secretary McKee went to work for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs in Fort Simpson. While he was in the village, Fort Liard was incorporated as a hamlet.

When he returned in 1994 as the SAO, the hamlet had a small amount of infrastructure built by the territorial government including a small office, water plant and a garage. The new deal, approximately seven years ago, which allowed the hamlet to take over its capital budget has been one of the biggest challenges, said McKee.

"That was a very significant change for all the small communities in the NWT," he said. "It gave the community much more input into what they wanted to do."

McKee said he's been pleased to see the hamlet undertake a number of capital projects including the community office and an addition to it, the additions to the fire hall and the maintenance garage, a swimming pool, a new garbage dump and chipsealing on half of the roads.

McKee has also been active with a number of other organizations including the Local Government Administrators of the NWT. Now at the age of 69, McKee said he doesn't want to work every day.

"It's just time to go, move along," he said.

McKee said he will miss the hamlet's team of staff, many of whom he's seen grow up and develop.

"I'll miss that camaraderie," he said.

McKee still plans to stay busy with contract work, including one he'll be starting soon in Enterprise.

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