Former Northwestel President and CEO Paul Flaherty at the company’s headquarters in Whitehorse in 2012. Flaherty died on Nov. 6 at the age of 63. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

‘We’ll miss him’: Paul Flaherty remembered as a strong community advocate

The former Northwestel CEO and president died this week

Paul Flaherty is being remembered as a man of deep integrity by a former colleague.

“He treated people so well. Everyone who dealt with him felt so respected,” said Karen Barnes, president and vice chancellor of Yukon College, who worked with Flaherty for almost a decade there.

Flaherty, who was also a long-serving president and CEO of telecommunications giant Northwestel, died on Nov. 6 at the age of 63.

Flaherty joined Yukon College’s board in 2009, going on to become chair in 2012, where he remained until his retirement in 2018.

Flaherty was also a board member of 2007 Canada Winter Games and chair of Vanier Catholic Secondary School council.

“I think the Yukon has lost a real community advocate,” Barnes said.

Flaherty, she said, was instrumental in turning the college into a university.

“We worked lockstep together and became good friends. He was so passionate about education and passionate about students. He always sought out students who were sitting by themselves. He always wanted to make sure that they were included. He loved listening to their stories.”

Flaherty was born in Toronto. After graduating from Western University, he worked with Bell Canada in Ontario and Quebec before making his way north to Whitehorse. He was president and CEO of Northwestel for 18 years, retiring in February of last year.

A spokesperson with the company said it has been an emotional time since learning of Flaherty’s death.

“Northwestel made large strides to modernize telecommunications while under Paul’s leadership, introducing fibre optic technology, 4G wireless and high-speed Internet to the North,” President Curtis Shaw said in a written statement. “Our thoughts are with Paul’s family during this difficult time – he will be missed.”

A visitation is slated for Nov. 8 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Heritage North Funeral Home.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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