Debates of June 2, 2023 (day 160)

19th Assembly, 2nd Session
Members Present
Hon. Diane Archie, Hon. Frederick Blake Jr., Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Mr. Edjericon, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Jacobson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. O’Reilly, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Ms. Semmler, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek, Ms. Weyallon Armstong


Mr. Speaker, I rise today to provide a personal explanation to clarify why I, as Attorney General, made the decision to intervene in the Supreme Court case relating to Bill C92, an Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, Metis children, youth and families.

Yesterday, it was stated in this House that the intervention was an indication that the GNWT reversed its support for the law passed by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation pursuant to this federal Act. This is not accurate. The very first sentence of the oral submission to the Supreme Court of Canada was, quote, "Let me begin by saying that the Northwest Territories is supportive of the inherent right of selfgovernment government, and we also support enabling Indigenous groups to create and operate child and family services."

The GNWT remains committed and is actively working with the IRC and the Government of Canada on finalizing the NWT's first coordination agreement under the federal act.

It was also stated in the House yesterday that the GNWT is putting its own interests to retain power and control above the interests of Inuvialuit children and youth.

Mr. Speaker, I assure you that these were not my motives. The NWT does not have the same constitutional protections as the provinces do, and it was critical for the Supreme Court of Canada to be aware of the potential impacts of the federal law. The decision to intervene was, in part, driven by the need to obtain judicial clarity now in order to avoid a separate court process in the future if disagreements arise regarding the ambiguities of the federal act.

I am hopeful that the submissions made to the SCC will prove helpful and will provide judicial guidance on the interaction between Indigenous laws and territorial laws, and later today I will be tabling a document with further explanation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ministers’ Statements

Minister’s Statement 373-19(2): Government of Canada Support for Northwest Territories Wildfire Response

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to share very good news out of Ottawa. On behalf of the Government of Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced they will be matching contributions made to the United Way NWT. This generosity will have a direct positive impact on people affected by wildfires in the Northwest Territories, and I am deeply grateful for Canada's support.

The Government of the Northwest Territories also recently signed an agreement with Natural Resources Canada under the new Natural Resources Canada's new Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate Program Equipment Fund. This fund, which allows provinces and territories to costshare investments for equipment such as vehicles, enhanced communications gear, and repairs to aging equipment, will be used for the purchase of aircraft, vehicles, dispatch consoles, and dust suppressants. Our agreement with Natural Resources Canada directly enables our government to procure specialized firefighting equipment and strengthen our capacity to manage wildland fires that present a threat to our communities.

Mr. Speaker, it has been truly humbling to see our neighbours across the country step up to assist those affected by wildfire and flooding over the last month. Later today, Minister Thompson and I will be releasing a statement outlining the incredibly generous support we have received from our neighbours in and out of the territory, but I want to take this opportunity to briefly highlight these good news stories out of Ottawa for my colleagues in the House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Honourable Premier. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

Minister’s Statement 374-19(2): Fourth Anniversary of the Release of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the 4th Anniversary of the release of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The final report describes the dire situation faced by Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBPTQIA+ people as genocide. It also delivers 231 Calls for justice directed at governments, institutions, social service providers, industries, and all Canadians to affect change.

Since the release of the final report, the Government of the Northwest Territories has taken steps to begin to affect change so that Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGPBTQIA+ peoples can feel valued, feel safe, and be honoured in the Northwest Territories.

We still have work to do, and new people have been lost. As I speak today, people are actively searching for Frank Gruben who went missing from Fort Smith earlier this month. Mr. Speaker, I would like to reinforce the call to encourage anyone with information that could help find Frank Gruben to please step forward.

In order to stop the cycles of violence and abuse in Northwest Territories' communities and institutions, we must recognize and acknowledge the devastating root causes of violence that continue to be experienced by our populations. I am pleased to advise that the Government of the Northwest Territories is working on implementing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan tabled in November 2022. An annual report on the implementation of the action plan is being prepared and will be posted to the MMIWG website later this month.

When responding to violence directed at Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGPBTQIA+ people, it is critical that partnerships be developed and allowed to grow so that trust can be fostered and solutions offered from various perspectives. Recognizing that partnership is key, I am pleased to advise that following per Action 33 of the action plan, work is now currently underway to establish an MMIWG Advisory Committee. The purpose of this advisory committee is to provide advice and guidance to the GNWT on MMIWGrelated matters.

With the cooperation of our community contacts, draft terms of reference were developed and will be shared with Indigenous governments, stakeholders, and other community partners for review and feedback. The intent is to have this advisory committee in place by fall. This committee will provide a pathway for communities to provide input into programs and services offered, incorporate changes to programs and services so that they reflect and address community needs and aspirations, and by being transparent and accountable in what we do.

Mr. Speaker, a lot has happened over the past four years since the release of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The Government of the Northwest Territories remains committed to ending violence directed at Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGEBTQIA+ people. We will do this by implementing the action plan and continuing to work with community partners to develop solutions that are effective and sustainable, always striving to do better. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Health and Social Services.

Minister’s Statement 375-19(2): Changes to the Extended Health Benefit Policy to Address Gaps and improve

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform this House and residents of the NWT about the upcoming changes to the Extended Health Benefits Policy. They will come into effect on April 1st next year. The Government of the Northwest Territories is dedicated to ensuring fair access to extended health benefits for all NWT residents, with a focus on people with low income who are not covered under the existing policy.

The existing Extended Health Benefits Policy has been in place for over 30 years without substantial change. The updated policy addresses gaps in coverage that have left some NWT residents without access to extended health benefits. It will better position the GNWT to sustain the delivery of this benefit program for all residents in the years to come.

To ensure we created a robust new policy, we conducted a comprehensive review of coverage across various jurisdictions to align ourselves with provincial and territorial programs. In the fall of 2022, we asked for feedback from residents and stakeholders over a threemonth period. We gained valuable insights by listening to the lived experience of people accessing extended health benefits. This feedback from more than 700 people shaped the final policy.

The new Extended Health Benefits Policy makes some key changes, including access to benefits which will be dependent upon an annual income assessment. Residents above the established lowincome thresholds will need to contribute to the cost of their benefits to reasonable limits adjusted for family size and region where applicable. The new policy no longer requires residents to have a specified condition to access benefits. Instead, there are a suite of benefits available to all residents each with its own terms and conditions for eligibility and levels of coverage.

The changes we have made to the Extended Health Benefits Policy have nothing to do with seniors aged 60 and older. Their current benefit levels continue. There are no changes for residents who access the NonInsured Health Benefits and Metis Health Benefits.

Mr. Speaker, as we move forward, we are committed to careful planning and implementation of the changes to the policy. We will have information and staff available to support residents to access benefits and will plan to have this available well in advance of April 1st, 2024. We want to ensure a smooth transition for all residents because we understand the importance of stability and continuity to access benefits.

Mr. Speaker, these policy changes are a testament to our commitment to improve equitable access to health benefits and thereby health outcomes for all NWT residents. By addressing the gaps in our current policy, we strive to provide support to those who need it most while aligning with jurisdictions across Canada and working towards a sustainable health and social services system. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Housing NWT.

Minister’s Statement 376-19(2): Housing Northwest Territories Renewal Update

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, earlier this sitting I was very pleased to update this House on the establishment of the Northwest Territories Housing Forum. The NWT Housing Forum is just one of 42 program and policy changes that Housing NWT staff have been working tirelessly on in collaboration with partners from across the territory.

Mr. Speaker, later today I will table a progress update on the 42 actions arising from the program and policy review. The update, which will be posted on Housing NWT's website, gives a snapshot of where we are in terms of implementing those actions, many of which are already being implemented with many more continuing a roll out. Accountability is one of Housing NWT's core values as is set out in our mandate. This progress update is an important aspect of Housing NWT's accountability to the public and to our partners.

Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT is making excellent progress on the implementation of these actions. Only five of the actions are subject to a moderate amount of delay based on the originally projected timelines. Many of these actions are already being implemented, and some will require further work with the NWT Housing Forum and other partners to finalize.

Mr. Speaker, later today I will also be tabling Housing NWT's Energy Strategy and Energy Blueprint, along with a "what we heard" report. The energy plans are another action reinforced in the strategy which benefits from the input of the Council of Leaders working group and other partners.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of these changes and proud of how the NWT staff and partners were making these possible. Every day, I am looking for more progress, more steps forward, to be made. Despite these changes though I want to make one thing perfectly clear. Housing NWT's renewal process is not yet complete. This process is embedded in Housing NWT's mandate and its approaches by promoting a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. Renewal will have a lifetime beyond this Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude by thanking Housing NWT's many partners and staff for making these changes possible, and I look forward to seeing the positive outcomes in the years to come. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Members’ Statements

Member’s Statement 1568-19(2): Thank-You to Fort Smith

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to end this session on a positive note. First, I want to wish all the Indigenous leaders across the NWT a safe and wonderful summer. As a former chief, I want to wish my former colleagues well and hope they, along with their constituents, all have great summer assemblies this year. In addition, Mr. Speaker, I want to wish all my colleagues here in this House, including you, Mr. Speaker, a good and restful summer. I'd also like to thank the staff of the Legislative Assembly for always helping to ensure we're on track and following all protocols and for the continued support in our work for the people of the NWT.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I want to mention some of the activities that will be happening in Fort Smith over the summer. First of all in June, there will be the Aurora College Thebacha Campus graduation followed by the opening of the Fort Smith Metis Day Care, and then the Treaty Land Entitlement Days that are hosted by the Salt River First Nation. Next, the Smith Landing First Nation will be hosting the Dene Assembly in July in Fort Fitzgerald. And then in August, the annual Dark Sky Festival.

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I want to wish all the amazing constituents of Thebacha a happy summer season as well. And I'd also like to extend this message to all the leadership of Fort Smith which includes Salt River First Nation, the Fort Smith Metis Council, and the Town of Fort Smith. Thank you to all the leadership and to my constituents for your continued support as MLA for Thebacha.

Thank you as well to my community team for always supporting me and for the people that I serve in our community. You know who you are. And also, I want to once again thank my family for their steadfast support. I truly could not do this work without you by my side, which includes my husband Peter, my sons Jerry and Mickey and, as always, my dog Rambo. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.

Member’s Statement 1569-19(2): Congratulations to Graduates

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as this school year ends, I would like to recognize and congratulate all those students from Hay River, Enterprise, West Point First Nation, and K'atlodeeche First Nation, who are graduating from Ecole Boreale, Diamond Jenness Secondary School, Chief Sunrise Education Centre, and Aurora College.

Mr. Speaker, we can all appreciate and acknowledge the commitment and sacrifice these students put in to achieve their status as graduates. That chapter has now closed, and it is time to take that next step, whether it is to further their education, join the workforce, or travel the world. It is only the beginning of their new journey.

Mr. Speaker, for each to achieve the status of graduate, we must also recognize the parents, caregivers, family, friends, and those teachers who, throughout the years, supported and encouraged each of them to succeed. I know that each graduate will look back and understand the importance of this achievement and, in turn, convey the importance of education to their children and others as they move forward in life.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I congratulate the graduates of 2023 and wish them all a bright, successful, and healthy future. And, lastly, I would like to congratulate my granddaughter Inaaya who will graduate from grade 9 and now soon to be a high school student and any black hair I have left, will now be gray. Thank you, Mr. Speaker,

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Member’s Statement 1570-19(2): Transition to British Columbia Curriculum

Merci, Monsieur le President. In August 2023, grade 4 to 6 and grade 9 classes in all NWT schools will be transitioning from the Alberta curriculum of studies to the BC system. All other school grades will transition in subsequent years.

While ECE officials have been working on this for years, teachers working directly with students have not. The word I've received is that teachers are not ready to make this transition because the basic groundwork has not been done. I've been told that ECE put together a number of working groups to adapt the BC curriculum to an NWT perspective, and that is very important work. However, most of these groups have not yet finished their work and teachers have had no updates on their progress. The assessment working group did not even start meeting until February and to date, there has been no communication on its recommendations.

The South Slave actually hired an outside consultant to create a new reporting system but in Yellowknife, there has been no such guidance. It's not the content of the new curriculum that is a source of stress, Mr. Speaker. The problems arise with assessment, reporting, and changing classroom practices to address competencies rather than outcomes.

Our teachers pride themselves on being well informed, ready to teach, and able to deliver their programs and communicate confidently with students and parents. While teachers are working to prepare for the fall, they have been allowed little time to prepare and adjust to the new curriculum which isn't even finished yet. I am told that minimal time for the transition has been granted, largely at the expense of other important initiatives within schools and the department.

We need to trust our professional frontline educators when they tell us that what can be a good idea is being rolled out badly or too quickly. The department has asserted the need to shift to a different curriculum to give NWT students a better and more relevant education, and I agree with that, but let's get it right. I will have questions for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment on the transition to the BC school curriculum later today. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Member’s Statement 1571-19(2): Spring Statement

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I too would like to just wish everybody a good and safe summer, all my colleagues, and remember a little bit of family time is always good, and time at home. And I can't wait to get home tomorrow, so. So to my constituents, to my graduates across Nunakput, congratulations on your big step of achievement, and I thank them and thank their parents for getting them to where they're at wish them all the best, and we're always here for you in regards for support and stuff like that. And I'm really excited for them on their future steps.

Also, Mr. Speaker, another big one, I really want to thank our frontline staff across the territories and my home community and riding of Nunakput is, you know, the health centre, all the nursing stations and stuff like that, all the work that they're doing. It doesn't go unseen. We're so blessed to have good staff in the communities. Our RCMP, I thank them for what they're doing. Especially our school staff, the teachers and the staff at the hamlet office, and, you know, our leadership back home, our mayors and staff, community corps, our grads, again. And June 5th is Happy Inuvialuit Day so Happy Inuvialuit Day early for a few days. So I am looking forward to being home and celebrating that. And I remember a long time ago when that was signed, I think 41 years ago; I was sitting there waiting for a piece of cake. So as an 11yearold kid watching it happen and, you know, seeing something like that to seeing where we are at today and what our claim group has done, and the successes we have as Inuvialuit people as a whole. I am really proud of that and the heritage. But, Mr. Speaker, to all my colleagues have a good, safe summer. Everybody out back home in the Delta and Nunakput, I know geese hunting is still happening so be safe while you are geese hunting. Be safe while you're going to be whaling here in another couple of weeks, and we're looking forward to that. And just like I said to all my colleagues, again just have a good summer. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Member’s Statement 1572-19(2): Housing Stability Worker

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in 2018, Housing NWT had conducted a pilot project to help provide better wraparound supports for tenants living in public housing. That pilot project was conducted in Behchoko, and it created a new position within housing titled "housing stability worker" who's job was to work with housing tenants to support them in various ways to keep their housing and stabilize their living situation.

Mr. Speaker, according to the NWT Housing Corporation's annual report for 2019, 2022, it's the job of the housing stability worker to work with vulnerable tenants to develop housing plans that addresses aspects of everyday life such as financial literacy, housing arrears, employment, health and wellness, and food security. The position was created as a navigator that did home visits to help residents enhance their knowledge of existing government supports and to address a range of social issues that affects housing instability.

Mr. Speaker, sometimes this government's pilots are very great ideas but then they are shortlived. And I think positions like this, and this pilot project, was a very interesting concept, and I believe it should be continued and expanded upon to other regions and communities, including my own riding of Inuvik. I know that this position and the work that they do would be well suited and welcomed in Inuvik. However it appears that this pilot project may be over now since it was only scheduled to be active for two years in Behchoko.

Mr. Speaker, it is innovative programs and services such as that of the housing stability worker that needs to be conducted on a broader basis within the Northwest Territories because all communities and regions face similar social issues. So therefore they would all benefit from this type of position being offered across the board in all regions. And I will have questions for the Minister of Housing NWT at the appropriate time.

And, Mr. Speaker, because I have 30 seconds left, I would just like to congratulate all of the Inuvik graduates that are going to be graduating this Saturday and to all the postsecondary graduates that are finishing college and to Chelsea Jerome who is just graduating from her nursing degree program, and it's very exciting to have another Inuvialuit nurse come in the region. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Members' statements. Member for Tu NedheWiilideh.

Member’s Statement 1573-19(2): Withdrawal from Co-Management Agreement

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today as a voice of concern and frustration regarding the recent press release issued by the deputy mayor of Fort Resolution. It is disheartening to witness the lack of accountability and transparency alleged against the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs in his dealing with the community.

The concern raised in the press release demanded immediate attention and action. The withdrawal from the comanagement arrangement, despite the struggling accumulated deficit and projected deficit, is simply unacceptable. The financial position of the Hamlet of Fort Resolution is in dire strait and MACA's failure to provide full disclosure and communicate with the elected council, it is dereliction of duty. The community deserves better.

The absence of MACA representatives during the community meeting on May 10th, 2023, and the lack of updates on the administration of the hamlet, can only be interpreted as disregard for the concerns of my constituents. How can MACA claim to represent the community's best interests when they don't even show up to address their legitimate concerns? This level of empathy is simply unbelievable given the seriousness of the situation. It is right for the residents of Fort Resolution to deserve answers, deserves transparency, and deserve undivided attention of the department in this mess as soon as possible.

The decision of the elected council not to voluntarily resign is commendable. Continued continuity and accountability are crucial during these times of crisis. However, it is deeply troubling that our community has had to endure such challenges without the support of, and is repeatedly requested, from MACA. Their voices has fallen on deaf ears, and it's high time that they receive support and assistance they deserve.

The issue faced by the elected council during their tenure, including the significant financial challenges, internal control issues, human resources concerns, must be addressed urgently. The hamlet needs comprehensive feedback from MACA and action to rectify the multiple issues plagued in our community.

Rest assured, as your elected representative I will tirelessly advocate for our resources' assistance and support for what the solution requires. I will not rest until MACA steps up and our community concerns are addressed.

Mr. Speaker, no one is happy with the situation, and it's time to move forward in an open transparent collaborative approach between all levels of government for the betterment of Fort Resolution. I will have questions for the Minister of MACA at the appropriate time. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Tu NedheWiilideh. Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

Member’s Statement 1574-19(2): History of Indigenous Peoples

Thank you. Mr. Speaker, June is National Indigenous History Month. Throughout the month Canadians will be acknowledging Indigenous Peoples, First Nations, the Inuit, and the Metis.

As settlers, my ancestors were welcomed to these lands by Indigenous people. They were taught how to survive and how to navigate through the untouched regions of what we now call the provinces and territories of Canada. They built relationships with nations and shared with each other the teachings, knowledge, and skills of their cultures in an effort to form community. However, there is a dark side the true collective history that was not taught until recently: A history of colonial, genocidal policies and doctrines that threaten to destroy all Indigenous people and their ways, to assimilate them into a dominant European structure.

I say we were taught about this "recently" because Indigenous people have lived on these lands since time immemorial. Longer than the explorations of 1492, older than America, older than the 156 years of Canada, so yes, the 21st Century is "recent" to learn the truth about the first peoples of this land.

The Government of Canada's website acknowledges National Indigenous History Month and provides some ideas how to acknowledge the month. However, we must take it further than listening to music, watching a movie, or reading a book. We can learn by participating and taking the initiative to go to celebrations and gatherings in our community and initiate conversations with Indigenous people, to not take over the conversation or to rush through a conversation, but to help create respectful spaces to intentionally listen to what is being shared with us. It is only when we make the journey from our intellect to our heart can we hear each other’s truth and to know the person better.

My CA shared a teaching her elder taught her, and I quote. "Indigenous people seek to build relationships first, then do the work afterwards. It is to get to know each other better, to learn about each other, to celebrate and mourn with each other, to care for each other. When you connect in this way you want each other to succeed, you become allies and helpers in the face of threats and, more importantly, you become genuine friends. NonIndigenous cultures seek to do the opposite work first and succeed at all costs; power and control is the foundation and relationships are fine but not a priority." I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

Unanimous consent granted

I want to say that I acknowledge, support, and appreciate the true history of Indigenous peoples, not just for the month of June, but all year long, and I will seek to build relationships first. And now that I have a little bit more time, I would also like to wish all the graduates across the territory a good celebration, a safe celebration, and to not drink and drive. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Member’s Statement 1575-19(2): Yellowknife Streets

Mr. Speaker, I remember these sunny days as a child. The anticipation of after school shenanigans, bike rides, and dock jumping in back bay and, of course, counting down the days to Raven Mad Daze. But Yellowknife streets have changed. Today the challenges that plague the halls of apartment buildings all winter have spilled into the streets for summer.

This isn't an easy issue to tackle in two minutes. It's layered in both history, root causes, tried bandaid solutions, and potential longterm solutions. This town has cycled through responses to escalated public intoxicationfueled violence from arrests to ambulance calls to illequipped underfunded organizations to relying on our ER staff. The RCMP has stopped what they call arrests for addiction. And where once people spent time sobering up in cells, they continue to use substance to numb pain in a town without easily accessible culturally appropriate supports. In turn, ambulances show up for callouts they don't have the resources to even bandaid, and nurses find themselves in unsafe workspaces being asked to solve longterm issues with shortterm solutions.

In my lifetime, our streets have reached a boiling point as they are speckled with alcoholfueled fights, very public crack use, and residents, including children, being caught in the middle. People are hurting themselves and others as their trauma reaches levels they cannot manage, and Yellowknife residents are concerned about the safety of streetinvolved people, the safety of children, and the safety of residents.

Mr. Speaker, removing bandaids, without the resources and supports to care for the wound, doesn't work. The state of our downtown and the absence of adequate shortterm supports is having a ripple effect, and this town needs support resources to hit the streets today:

Funded foot patrol teams that pair enforcement with health professionals bringing presence, resources, and relationships.

Relationships to our streets need to happen now.

Supports for business owners legally required to provide safe workplaces but are putting themselves between residents and violence on our streets needs to start now.

Situational tables to handle specific casebycase supports need to get back on track.

Mr. Speaker, people want to feel safe. Kids need to be able to walk home from school, women need to be able to walk without being harassed, touched, and threatened, and all residents deserve safety. I will have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.

Member’s Statement 1576-19(2): Congratulations to Graduates

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My summer message:

Mr. Speaker, summer is upon us, and many of the young people will be on their welldeserved summer break. Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate all the graduates from Chief Jimmy Bruneau School, from Menzi Community School in Whati, and Jean Wetrade School in Gameti, and Alexis Arrowmaker School in Wekweeti.

I want to thank all the students, parents, guardians, teachers, support staff, principals, and many more who worked hard supporting, working with our young people in the communities to complete the school year. For many it was not easy. There were challenges. But people coming together, working together, helped to move forward. There are still a lot of family and friends are still grieving for loss of loved ones. But I would say to all the people who helped, be proud of the accomplishment that they have made.

As I have said many times to our young people, Mr. Speaker, some of the young people will go to postsecondary, some will work, some will go in training, some will choose to travel, but you do need money to go places or live life off the grid. As we go through life, sometimes things can get in our way, difficulty in our families, with our friends, or maybe in school, a subject we find hard to understand. It is easy to just give up or quit. And this is not moving forward in life. As a young person, you have to keep pushing yourself forward, don't give up, and you can accomplish anything.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to extend congratulations to all the postsecondary graduates from Tlicho region. A job well done, now the world is their oyster.

Further, I would also like to acknowledge, honour, the family members and friends that we have lost in the communities: elders like Elizabeth Michel, 99 years old. In Tlicho we call her Moma Cho. And elder Philip Dryneck, 94; my Godsister Mary Ann Football; former Grand Chief Eddy Erasmus; and others who are no longer with us. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Mr. Speaker, we have lost too many young people. Their lives are priceless. They are our future. I encourage anyone struggling to reach out for help. Indigenous people are resilient; we have said that, and it's been known. We will continue to support one another to heal and move forward. Please don't drink and drive. Listen to your parents, parent, parents, grandparents, guardians and elders. You can have fun without drugs and alcohol in your life. There is more to life and living.

Mr. Speaker, I wish all the people in Tlicho region and leaders a happy and safe summer. I know many of them will be travelling. May God bless them, keep them and their families safe on their journey. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife South.

Member’s Statement 1577-19(2): Youth Parliament

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, back in April, the Legislative Assembly was host to 19 youth from across the Northwest Territories for our Annual Youth Parliament. There is starting to be a trend amongst the youth who have represented Yellowknife South. When they are given the opportunity to speak in this House, to deliver their message to us as MLAs and to the people of the Northwest Territories, they have chosen to speak to the action plan to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGEBTQIA+ people.

Mr. Speaker, today is the 2nd Anniversary of the delivery of the final report of the national inquiry. So, Mr. Speaker, I have chosen to take this opportunity to share the words of the latest youth to stand in this spot who spoke to the action plan.

The following words are those that were written and read in this legislature by Nico Morin, who represented Yellowknife South as the Minster responsible for the Status of Women in the 2023 Youth Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, for many years now, Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGEBTQIA+ people have been found victims of numerous violence and abuse cases around the North, but rarely is there enough support for the survivors or their families. Survivors are left with a great deal of trauma to work through which not only affects them but has repercussions on family members who are left with a deeprooted fear of that certain event happening again. This is even more so for families of victims who did not make it, as they are left to deal with that grief as well. As we know, this trauma is especially hard for Indigenous people who are also still dealing with the intergenerational trauma of historical and modem colonial practices.

Missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGEBTQIA+, Call to Action 81, calls on the government to enhance the holistic approach of support to survivors, their families, and friends. This is important because it provides a diverse range of healing methods while also keeping a strong connection to Indigenous culture and medicinal practices.

Mr. Speaker, in the GNWT's action plan in response to the MMIWG Calls to Action, the government plans to provide the Indigenous governments, hamlets, councils, and local organizations, with funding to put in place a comprehensive communitybased victim services program to help provide muchneeded support to survivors of crime and their families. These services are being offered at a community level because communities are best able to identify the uniqueness of their residents.

Today I want to acknowledge that just because a person survives abuse or acts of violence does not mean that their pain is over and that they should be expected to return to a normal life. As the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, MMIWG is very relevant to my portfolio. Creating programs to help victims and their families heal from the traumatic events they had to endure will be greatly beneficial for women, girls, and 2SLGEBTQIA+.

Mr. Speaker, we recognize we need to move on many more calls to action. By addressing the actions one at a time, we can ensure a well thought out response and approach to the Calls to Action and give them the muchneeded attention they deserve.

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to Ms. Morin for those words and for reminding me of some of reasons and motivations that lead me to run for office the passion that we should never cease to bring to this job and to her courage to take on a topic, one that can seem overwhelming but which will only be solved by each of us giving voice to social change. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife South. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Member’s Statement 1578-19(2): Sambaa K’e Fire

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as you all are aware the community of Sambaa K'e was the third community that had to evacuate this fire season. I can tell you that the community leadership and the band administration did a great job in following their community evacuation plan. I had the opportunity to speak with the band manager and she explain that the community was registering everybody evacuate at that time. As she and Chief Jumbo explained to me, they were being proactive as there was a potential for the fire to impact the communities based on anticipated smoke that could close the local airport.

Mr. Speaker, there is a likelihood of smoke closing the airport in a few days because of the planned ignition operation adjacent to the community. As well, they are having conversations with ECC and MACA and factored in the weather and wind for the next few days while they make this decision.

Mr. Speaker, I can advise you when the community did call the evacuation order, they asked that the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs regional EMO not to sound the alert until they had the opportunity to tell the residents. They did not want to cause more stress with the evacuees. As you can imagine, this is a very scary thing to happen.

In speaking with the chief, he explained to me a part of the plan was to get 75 evacuees to Fort Simpson and this was done in a timely manner. I can also advise you that 13 residents stayed behind as essential staff. Evacuees were scheduled to stay in the Fort Simpson recreation centre in the gym and arena. The village had set up the evacuation centre full of cots. However, almost all evacuees have found other places to stay with family, friends, or other locations in the community.

Mr. Speaker, the village will be providing meals at the evacuation centre for the evacuees. There will be meals provided three times a day. As well, there are tables set up in case anybody wants to play cards, visit, and there's a projection screen where people can watch TV.

Mr. Speaker, residents and businesses of Fort Simpson have been amazing hosts. I have heard of businesses providing a pallet of water, another business going into the community to bring their pets out, and people donating baking goods and food. They are doing what they can to help out.

Mr. Speaker, I realize it is a scary time for the residents of Sambaa K'e, and I hope that they get home soon. As well as you imagine, we are hoping we see some rain soon. Mr. Speaker, I would like unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues. In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Sambaa K'e leadership, their staff, the regional EMO team and ECC staff on the work they are doing, as well to the people and businesses of Fort Simpson. Thank you for being caring neighbours.

And Mr. Speaker, I'd like to just close and encourage everybody to be very cautious about the fire season we're in. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Nahendeh. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Member’s Statement 1579-19(2): Congratulations to Sahtu Graduates