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Source: Australian Executive Government Ministers

With the passing of John Ah Kit, the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory have lost one of their greatest champions.

His family’s statement, released shortly after his passing on the weekend said “He was a brother, cousin, husband, father, uncle and grandfather to us, of course, but also had those connections for many other people and friends around the Territory and the Australian nation, as a leader and advocate for Aboriginal people, their countries and their rights”.

Mr Ah Kit’s contribution to the lives of all Territorians was hugely significant. As well as a lifetime leader and advocate for his people, he was also the first Aboriginal Cabinet Minister in the Northern Territory Government and served in five portfolios from 1995 till 2005.

Mr Ah Kit was director of the Northern Land Council from 1984 to 1990 and was executive director of the Jawoyn Association from 1991 to 1995. In 1991, he was instrumental in the Jawoyn traditional owners’ battle to prevent gold, palladium and platinum mining at Coronation Hill, a sacred site to the Jawoyn people. Mr Ah Kit was tireless in his advocacy for the Jawoyn people’s traditional beliefs in the face of much political resistance. The then Prime Minister Bob Hawke AC eventually intervened to prevent mining at the site.

Many people have already spoken to me of Jak’s achievements, his strong leadership and dedication to the rights of Aboriginal people. His family have also reminded us of his ‘great sense of humour, his love of country and his love of friends and family.’