Debates of September 29, 2023 (day 164)

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, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. O’Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek, Ms. Weyallon Armstrong


Colleagues, before we start, I'd like to draw your attention to the gallery and welcome Mr. Daryl Dolynny. Welcome back. Daryl was a Member for Range Lake in the 17th Assembly, part of the Fab Five at the time. Good to see you again.

Personal explanation, Madam Premier.

Mr. Speaker, I rise pursuant to Rule 1.8(1) one of the rules of the Legislative Assembly to make a personal explanation. Yesterday, during Members' statements 59919(2), the MLA for Kam Lake states as follows, as quoted in unedited Hansard: During the press conference, the Premier asked residents who could get an a commercial flight and leave town to do so, and they did. The press conference that the MLA is referring to was August 16th, 2023. I personally reviewed the video of this press conference and want to provide this House with the complete quote that I understand the MLA is referring to and context for it.

The quote is as follows: People that do not have enough money to leave town in their vehicles and need supports to get out of town, we're recommending that you actually meet at the multiplex, take a bus, or take a plane. We don't want to see you broke down on the highway. Although we will have supports, we want to make sure that everyone is safe. I made these remarks after the Minister for Municipal and Community Affairs had outlined in the same news conference the various methods for evacuation to residents, including that the GNWT would be offering free evacuation flights to residents beginning the next day, Thursday, August 17th.

Mr. Speaker, the full context of my remarks is important to understand that although the MLA implied this, I did not encourage residents to get on commercial flights. I was concerned that those who did not have enough money to travel on their own means know that the Government of the Northwest Territories evacuation flights would be available to them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ministers’ Statements

Minister’s Statement 382-19(2): Indigneous Government Partnerships and Capacity Building

Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT has been very successful in building strong partnerships with Indigenous governments over the life of this government, because we have cultivated collaborative relationships with them. This is particularly important with the large amounts of distinctionsbased funding that flows directly from the Government of Canada to Indigenous governments for their housing priorities.

The Council of Leaders Housing Working Group, which played a significant role in the review of housing programs and policies as part of Housing NWT's Strategic Renewal has transformed into the NWT Housing Forum. The forum will be instrumental in moving the needs of Northwest Territories forward collaboratively. With Housing NWT, the Indigenous coled forum has already met twice and is positioned to play an important role in promoting information exchange and cooperation between all types of Northwest Territories governments on housing priorities.

Mr. Speaker, another success that should be highlighted are the formal agreements that have been signed between our government and the Tlicho government, Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, and the Deline Gotine government to address their housing needs.

These agreements are tailored to each Indigenous government and will build on existing intergovernmental agreements in place between the GNWT and those Indigenous governments. The agreements acknowledge the relationships and work already done and provided a framework for intergovernmental cooperation on the collaboration to develop and implement housingrelated matters. Even if no formal agreement is signed, Housing NWT will make it a priority to engage and work with Indigenous governments across the Northwest Territories in collaboration is an approach to key priorities to providing better services to our communities.

Mr. Speaker, as a new way of doing business, Housing NWT recently collaborated with the Indigenous governments on the design of units for seniors and singleoccupancy units, both of which have been in high demand. In November 2022, Housing NWT established a senior advisory committee through discussions with community leadership. The committee is comprised of seniors, elders, and those who have direct experience taking care of seniors. Meeting with the committee have provided excellent input on the design and improvement that can be made by Housing NWT to allow seniors to age in place in their communities. In units that better meet their needs, the highly collaborative process has allowed for input every step of the way. I want to thank everyone who shared their insight and experiences through this process.

Mr. Speaker, through the negotiated contract policy, Housing NWT has worked directly with Indigenous governments and businesses to construct energyefficient housing units in communities across the Northwest Territories. Through this work, we are seeing more locals getting involved in construction, more businesses developing capacity in the residential sector, and more houses being built for residents.

Housing NWT, along with other GNWT departments, has approached all Northwest Territories Indigenous governments to discuss market housing opportunities. Our government conducted research to determine specifically the needs for each community, including the need for frontline workers such as teachers and nurses that presented their information to Indigenous governments as an opportunity to build units to support staffing in these communities.

With funding from the federal Urban Native Funding Program targeted at Indigenous clients, Housing NWT was able to provide the North Slave Housing Corporation with $600,000 for their repair program, supporting 75 units in Yellowknife that house Indigenous clients. The funding enables us to improve the quality of these units while also making them more energyefficient.

Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT does not always have to be the lead in providing housing solutions. Over the life of the 19th Legislative Assembly, we have seen welcoming federal investment in direct funding to Indigenous governments for their housing and infrastructure priorities of more than $400 million. This funding, along with over $200 million that has been provided to the GNWT, will help address the overall housing infrastructure deficit in the Northwest Territories, and we are seeing Indigenous governments putting their funds to use across the housing spectrum, from home repair programs to market housing. Housing NWT will continue to support and coordinate with Indigenous governments as they put this money to use for their people.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said this before, no single government can address the housing needs of the Northwest Territories and communities. But by partnering and supporting other, Housing NWT can remain focused on improving the lives of residents most in need by using new approaches and finding new solutions.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the staff of the Housing NWT for their collaboration and for their work on getting a lot of this work done in this Assembly. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Minister’s Statement 383-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Seniors’ Strategic Framework

Mr. Speaker, throughout this term, departments across the Government of the Northwest Territories have been working towards our mandate commitment to enable seniors to age in place with dignity, and we just heard some of that detail from the Minister responsible for NWT Housing. To focus this work, Regular Members passed a motion calling on the Department of Health and Social Services to create a framework for seniors. That work is now finished, and later today I will table the GWNT Seniors' Strategic Framework. This framework is an inventory of measures required for improving programs, services, and initiatives to better meet the needs of seniors and help them to stay at home for as long as possible.

Many people and organizations contributed to this framework. Their engagement reflects their commitment and respect for seniors and their valued place in our communities and territory. Their participation strengthened our understanding of the needs of seniors, existing gaps in programs and services, and provided insights as to how to enable seniors to age in place.

Mr. Speaker, the resulting framework outlines 20 key focus areas organized into four pillars: * Built Environment; Healthy Aging; Safety; and, Information and Communication.

Advancing work in these focus areas, whether through mandate commitments or departmental business plans, will be instrumental in ensuring that we can meet seniors' needs. I am going to speak to each one separately.

The built environment pillar emphasizes the importance of accessibility, suitability, and affordability of housing, along with the rest of the physical environment, to enhance the safety of seniors to participate in daily, recreational, cultural, and social activities. This pillar is about transportation and outdoor lighting, for example, that would help prevent slips, falls and injuries and contribute to personal and property safety too.

Mr. Speaker, the healthy aging pillar focuses on supporting the physical, mental, and social wellbeing through financial support, health care services, practical assistance, and agefriendly opportunities for activity such as intergenerational programs where seniors can connect with children and youth to share culture, traditions, and knowledge. Over the past two years, the Department of Health and Social Services offered a specific funding stream for communities to deliver services and provide support to seniors in their health and wellbeing.

The safety pillar addresses the right of seniors to safety in relationships, homes, and communities. Health providers will be promoting a personcentered, integrated service delivery approach, as well as providing access to advice from legal and professional experts and safety information and support. Work is ongoing to strengthen staff training to spot the signs of elder abuse and protect seniors from it.

The information and communication pillar prioritizes delivering information that is relevant, timely, accessible, and culturally appropriate. I hope the next government will invest in system navigation services to support seniors accessing necessary programs, making informed decisions, and participating in recreational, cultural, and social activities.

Mr. Speaker, a comfortable life for seniors means having access to the necessary services and support to live independently and safely at home. This goal requires collaboration and coordination of efforts with all government entities and our valuable community partners. That work has already started during this Assembly, including the increased home heating subsidy, a new income assistance stream for seniors, and access to home improvement funding. I am confident these program changes have improved the ability of seniors to age in place.

I am very proud of this framework which is the result of a motion I made as a Regular Member in 2020. It provides clear direction to future governments on areas for improving seniors' programs and services so that we all have the opportunity to age, with the appropriate support, where we choose to live. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Municipal and Community Affairs.

Minister’s Statement 384-19(2): 2023 Territorial Wildfire Emergency Response

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about this summer's devastating wildfire season that affected a majority of Northwest Territories residents. Territorial emergencies began in May and ended in September and saw a total of 12 communities impacted and roughly 70 percent of all NWT residents evacuated from their communities.

I understand how stressful these emergency events must have been for residents. I was an evacuee myself in the spring of 2021 and understand the challenges and the anxiety that these situations bring. There are also challenging days ahead as many of you have to repair the damage and help rebuild your homes and communities.

This has been the worst wildfire season in our recorded history and, for many of us, one that we will never forget. To preserve the record, I will table MACA's detailed chronology of the events of this summer later today. It is important for us to remember the events that occurred in a short period of time and the environment that was in place that led to the declaration of a state of emergency.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to being our worst wildfire season, it was also the first time any of us ever experienced an outofterritory evacuation. To guide this historic undertaking, the GNWT used its Territorial Emergency Plan and that plan worked. The Emergency Plan provided for the activation of the Territorial Emergency Management Organization, or TEMO, to act as the lead authority for the government's emergency management response.

TEMO included a representative from all GNWT departments and agencies, applicable community governments, and emergency responserelated agencies. The emergency plan outlines that community governments are the lead on community emergency events but when they need assistance, they ask the GNWT. When the GNWT needs assistance, we ask for help from Canada and other partners, which is exactly what we did. Through the TEMO, we supported community governments by calling for assistance from partners like the United Way and the governments of Alberta, Manitoba, and Yukon when our capacity was exceeded. I am the first person to say that we had to make several adjustments over the past few weeks as situations changed and as new information emerged.

It is a standard process after a disaster to conduct an afteraction review using external contractors. The afteraction review for this event is expected to be extensive and will involve the public and all partners. However, we are not waiting for recommendations from this review to make improvements. There are things we can start right away. This includes updating the NWT Emergency Plan, enhancing GNWT coordination and community government training, and increasing capacity for emergency response and evacuations across communities. We have also started the most important matter of all, which is helping community governments recover from this wildfire season as we work to rebuild Enterprise and all other affected communities.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I am so impressed by the tremendous amount of work undertaken by so many since May to protect residents and communities. The collective work done by hundreds of people over such an extended period of time deserves our gratitude and our thanks.

To the brave firefighters, as well as the frontline staff and contractors who worked so hard on wildfire prevention and emergency response, thank you. To the residents who displayed such resilience in the face of so many challenges and showed such kindness to their fellow evacuees, thank you.

To the GNWT departments and agencies that supported all our efforts, thank you. And to the federal government, provincial, and territorial partners who came to our help when we needed it most, thank you. We are in your debt for the kindness and compassion you have shown our residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Members’ Statements

Member’s Statement 1605-19(2): Reconciliation

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is September 30th, which is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day recognizes the dark history and legacy of residential schools, the missing children, and the survivors from these institutions. This date is a date of remembrance and of reflection for all Canadians across the country. It's also a day to acknowledge our country's colonial history and all the trauma, pain, and suffering that has been done to Indigenous peoples. It is also a day that we commemorate the families, communities, and survivors of those impacted by residential schools.

Mr. Speaker, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a very significant date, so it is extremely important that we observe this day and that we never forget or try to erase this history from our collective consciousness. It is important that people understand and respect the significance of this day and people take time to educate themselves and each other about why this date is on our calendar.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if on this date I did not take this opportunity to once again state that Fort Smith is home to one of the last remaining residential school buildings that is still in active use in Canada. I am referring to the Breynat Hall at Aurora College Thebacha Campus. It is unfortunate, upsetting, and uncomfortable for many people in my community to see that building still standing and remains in active use in Fort Smith. This building is the first thing that needs to come down and be replaced when the new headquarters of the future polytechnic is established in Fort Smith.

Regardless, Mr. Speaker, I hope that all people will take a moment tomorrow to consider what reconciliation means to them and to this country. I know that for some, this may be an awkward or difficult subject to talk about; however, I would encourage everyone to move out of their comfort zone and have a conversation with somebody about this important topic. It is vital for our country to be able to engage in this type of dialogue as that will help in the healing process and in moving our country forward in a good and positive way. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Member’s Statement 1606-19(2): Reconciliation

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is tomorrow, and I'd like to just thank all the communities in my riding and across the territory that's taking part in showing, having remembrance of it. The opportunity and encourage all residents of the Northwest Territories to spend time with their family and friends, to take the time to appreciate each other, get out on the land and talk to elders; most importantly listen to those who want to speak. I'm very proud of my Inuvialuit heritage, my culture. And I'm a residential school survivor and so many of my brothers and my grandfather and my mother that went through this, and we all were traumatized in one way or another, the effects that it had on our family. But we're still standing.

You know, being a part of a community and watching our young people now hunt, fish, explore that don't have to go through this, that what we've been through, I think it's a really we're really blessed to be where we're at and where we're from. You know, our leaders, as members of our community, we need to encourage this particularly within our youth, to keep forcing them that school's the most important thing and helping them, encouraging, encouraging everybody.

Mr. Speaker, I know the impacts of the residential school system. I know the challenges faced by Indigenous peoples throughout Canada, especially in the North. I always like to say, you know, Mr. Speaker, honour the past, live the present, and create the future. I know the challenges we faced, and reconciliation means that we could work together now, everybody's on the same page, and now we could just work together and move up and not look back. But it's pretty tough to do. That's why this day and this weekend is so important. It's a reminder of what we should always be thinking and doing, a reminder of the importance of culture, family. It is a reminder of difficult path of Indigenous peoples that we faced and also a reminder that here today we work for the better and brighter future.

Mr. Speaker, I want to wish everyone in Nunakput and across the country a meaningful weekend, to take the time for each other and reflect. You know, I always reflect because you, Mr. Speaker, are a residential school survivor. We have other Members in the House that are other residential school survivors. But when we see our brothers and sisters that we lived with for three or four years at a time, it's like you never skipped a beat. And today, you know, I reflect on a couple of my friend's I've lost. Clifford Takazo from Deline, one of my good friends. He was crazy, and I loved him. He was an awesome guy. And one of my good friends that I lost in the 1990s when we first arrived residential schools, my good friend Raymond Bernard, he passed away at Christmastime. But it's things like that you think about on these kinds of days and reflect. And, you know, we're blessed we're still standing, and we just want to make a brighter future for our youth and our communities that we represent. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Member’s Statement 1607-19(2): Reconciliation

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, Saturday, is a federallyrecognized statutory holiday in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This holiday falls on September 30th each year. This day honours residential school survivors across Canada and the thousands of children who never made it home.

The federal government contracted the Catholic and Anglican churches to operate the residential facilities in order to assimilate Indigenous peoples into the white man's culture. One of the ways was to separate Indigenous peoples from their families and homes. Our people were not allowed to speak their native language or practise their traditions and culture. They were trying to take the Indian out of Indigenous peoples. This was recognized in the White Paper of 1969 published by the Liberal government.

The physical and psychological impacts from the residential school system continues to this day. It has impacted many generations.

The annual day is set aside to reflect and remember all of our ancestors who have passed and to reflect on the many children who have lost their lives in the care of the residential school system. This day is an important step in the reconciliation process and recognized as one of the 94 Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Please join in on the festivities to mark this all-important day to commemorate all residential school survivors. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1608-19(2): Amalgamation of Hay River Health and Social Services Authority and NWTHSSA

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as we wrap up four years in office, many of us, including our constituents, find we are fighting the same battles which include that of health care recruitment and retention, lack of housing, homelessness, addictions, cost of living, access to labour and trades people, decrease in economic activity, affirmative action, and several other important issues. For now, I want to zero in on health care and ask why it is that we continue to have trouble recruiting and retaining doctors and health care professionals in our communities?

Mr. Speaker, I will use Hay River as an example. The Hay River Health Centre provides services not only to the residents of Hay River but also those surrounding communities which include K'atlodeeche First Nation, Enterprise, Fort Resolution, Kakisa, and Fort Providence. In essence we may be a health care centre in name, but we are seen as a hospital to many of the residents accessing services. People rely on services that are quickly disappearing or not available due to lack of doctors and qualified health care professionals. This is placing residents' health at risk, and we should be concerned.

Mr. Speaker, residents are tired to hearing of doctors shortages or that a whole department is closed due to lack of staff. That reality must change. The NWT was once competitive with southern Canada when it came to wages and benefits for health workers. We now find ourselves in a position where we are no longer competitive; instead, we are only comparable or in a wage deficit which does not work when it comes to recruitment in communities with high living costs and limited accommodations.

Mr. Speaker, the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority considers itself a separate and a distinct organization from the NTHSSA yet during union negotiations, countless employees say that they cannot provide benefits above and beyond what the NTHSSA and GNWT provide.

Mr. Speaker, if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Using that analogy, the HRSSA facilities are owned by the GNWT, the cost of managing, operating and managing the facility is covered by this government, contract negotiations require support from this government, so why would we not look at the amalgamating the HRSSA with the NTHSSA so all workers are treated equally throughout the health care system in the NWT and, most importantly, residents are provided with timely and quality health care. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1609-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Compliance with Archives Act

Merci, Monsieur le President. The Minister of Education, Culture and Employment knows that I am a big fan of the NWT archives and the territorial museum here in Yellowknife, that also needs a name change. I visit the archives once or twice a year and I have always received great service from the staff there. However, I am becoming increasingly worried about the state of whole building constructed in 1977 and our management, or lack thereof, of the archival and documentary heritage of the NWT. I have seen so many studies about the need to replace, expand, and upgrade the building in my almost eight years here that I have lost track of where we are with this important work.

Many important records covering the early years of the Government of the Northwest Territories are not even stored at the museum building due to lack of space. These records are stored in the government warehouse on Bryne Road. That building is totally unsuitable for any longterm storage. Lack of temperature or humidity controls place our archival records at considerable risk. Just think of the heat inside that building this summer. It would be unbearable and definitely not good for paper records.

These documents cover the transfer of authority from Ottawa to the Northwest Territories and other political development of our territories. They document the rise of Indigenous governments, negotiations over land rights, devolution, and many other significant events for the Northwest Territories. It's not just the government records that the NWT archives is responsible for but at least 21 other boards and agencies and numerous private records that have been donated and/or acquired.

When I review the antiquated Archives Act, which seems to date from 1981, there are virtually no standards or requirements for the archival heritage of the Northwest Territories. Section 5(2) says, quote, "the archivist is responsible for the safekeeping of every public record that is transferred to the archives under this section." End of quote. That's it. That's a lot of responsibility with what seems to be not enough resources to actually do it. I also note that the Archives Act has been on the list of legislation to be updated in both Assembly's that I have been part of it but it continually gets bumped. I will have questions later today for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment about GNWT's archival practices and whether they comply with the law. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1610-19(2): Truth and Reconciliation

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The beautiful autumn season is upon us. This is a time for harvesting, storing away our summer items as we prepare for colder months ahead. It is a time of wrapping up projects, to make room for new work and new stories. We end one season with a sense of gratitude for the memories we have created and look forward to making more over the coming months. However, for many, the fall season is a stark reminder of the time when children's voices full of play and laughter ceased to be heard in their community. Fall was the time when children, as young as three years old, were forcibly removed from their loving homes homes where they were nurtured by parents, grandparents, and extended family members; homes where they spoke their language, harvested their food, honoured their culture in ceremony, and had laws and teachings of their own. Children were taken away by boat, plane, or vehicle and placed in residential schools far away. Parents were arrested if they did not hand over their children.

The Indian Residential School system was designed to assimilate, to "kill the Indian in the child" by removing them from all connection to family and culture. Established by the federal government and run by the churches, the very people charged with the care and handling of all students, subjected them to every abuse possible. And many did not return home.

Marking September 30th as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is one small gesture that has been made in the attempt to begin righting the wrong inflicted on the Indigenous people of Canada, who were here long before the first colonizer ever set foot on Turtle Island. It is important that we take it upon ourselves as settlers and newcomers to learn about the legacy of these institutions. We must create spaces for dialogue with our families and friends, educating that this isn't something historical. Something of the past. In fact, Mr. Speaker, residential schools were in existence as recently as 1996.

The trauma from these institutions is rippling through our communities, and we owe it to everyone to learn what this day represents so that we can all be part of the process of healing and reconciliation. I stand here today with love and respect to honour all former students of residential schools, their families, and communities. And in memory and honour of all the children who did not return home. May this never ever happen again. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1611-19(2): Lutselk’e Dene First Nation Caribou Enforcement

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today marks more than a year since a deeply troubling and unconstitutional event has cast a shadow over my riding of Tu NedheWiilideh. I speak not to dwell on the past but to demand justice and healing for our friends and the neighbours, who are Indigenous people, that have suffered greatly at the hands of this government's reckless action of the raid in Lutselk'e Dene First Nation Timber Bay culture camp on September 15th, 2022.

One year ago, the unthinkable happened when Lutselk'e Dene First Nation culture camp was raided violating the very essence of our constitution section 35 rights, the sacred Dene laws, and the very principle of reconciliation. Our chief and council, along with the entire community of Lutselk'e, bore witness to this unrighteous and injustice as an effort to our shared commitment to truth and reconciliation. Today, the people of the Tu NedheWiilideh stand united to demand accountability and justice. We cannot let the anniversary pass without raising our voices for silence in the face of injustice. It's a betrayal of our values and our commitment to more equitable future for First Nation people.

The lack of progress in the investigation to this tragic event is deeply concerning. One year has passed, and we're still in the dark about what truly transpired on now that infamous day. We are still waiting for answers for transparency and accountability and for the genuine commitment to healing the wounds that have inflicted upon your community. Equally distressing is the continued absence of an apology from the Minister of Environment and Climate Change who bears responsibility for this disturbing incident.

An apology isn't merely a matter of courtesy. It is a vital step towards acknowledging the pain and suffering that has been caused. It is an admission of wrongdoing and a commitment to do better. To the chief and council of Lutselk'e and entire community, I want to say this: Your pain is my pain. Your fight is my fight. I stand shoulder to shoulder in solidity to demand justice, accountability, and sincere apology from this government.

To the Minister, I saw and will not rest until the truth is brought to light. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my Member's statements. Thank you.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. To the Minister, I saw, and we will now rest until the truth is brought to light, until the justice is served. And until the Minister of Environment and Climate Change acknowledges the wrongdoing that has occurred, we will not waiver in our commitment to reconciliation and healing. We will not allow this dark chapter to define our future.

Mr. Speaker, let us remember that it is duly that it is the duty of government to protect and uphold the rights of all citizens, and it is our duty to as our duty as a community to hold our government accountable. When those rights are violated, together we can ensure justice is served, that healing can begin, and we find the strength to stand together and demand the justice be served. I would have questions for the Minister of climate change. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1612-19(2): Housing

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of this 19th Legislative Assembly's priority was to increase the number of affordable homes and reduce our core housing need. The mandate said it would increase the stock of quality energy efficient and affordable housing, especially for vulnerable persons, by 100 units over four years, and it would transition 100 individuals and/or families to homeownership. I think we can all agree in this House that housing is a crisis in our country and especially in our territory.

Lack of affordable housing for people throughout the territory hasn't gotten any better even with this as a priority. I cannot speak to the details in all the communities, but I will bring up again what I do know in Inuvik. There are many vacant units, and they have been vacant almost the entire four years that I have been an MLA. Mr. Speaker, why do we still have these units sitting empty?

We approved money for renovations, major and minor retrofits, and we have never seen them worked on. There are units the Minister said that they were going to sell to make room for new units on those lots. This has not happened. We have a waitlist of people that could benefit from these homes but yet they sit empty. Even sit empty, heated, with no tenants. I know this, Mr. Speaker, because I pass them every day when I'm at home.

I am pleased to see that we have one unit being constructed by Housing NT other than RCMP units that have been completed pretty much in our community. And I am sure the two families that will move into this duplex will be very happy as well. However, Mr. Speaker, one duplex in four years is not going to fix the current waitlist of the single and the family units that are waiting for homes in my community. I will have questions for the Minister of Housing NWT. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1613-19(2): Business Incentive Policy

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We hired an independent panel, and they did some really good work on procurement, and they delivered their report in June 2021. And Mr. Speaker, I somewhat naively thought that, you know, within a few months after that we'd see changes to procurement.

I reviewed their report. I thought they did good work. I didn't really disagree with any of the recommendations. They made a few recommendations to change the thresholds in BIP, increasing the top $1 million to $2 million, recommended creating a local labour adjustment, and a few other tweaks.

They recommended a new definition of northern business, ones that a company would either have to have 51 percent ownership or a majority of its employees in the Northwest Territories. Importantly, they recommended using that definition which would then get rid of schedule 3 and finally remove Walmart from BIP. Yet, here are, Mr. Speaker, at the very end of this Assembly, and we still have not amended our policy.

Additionally, they recommended the creation of an Indigenous procurement policy. As far as I can tell, that conversation went completely off the rails, and there is no Indigenous procurement policy any hope in this Assembly. I personally would have just created a target similar to the Yukon and called it a day. I think getting everyone in the room who probably was never going to agree in the first place did more harm than good. But, Mr. Speaker, here we are.

And in August 2023, the government released finally its response to the review on procurement. And there are some hope in there. Apparently we have a new definition of northern business. We seem to be making no changes to the BIP threshold, and it doesn't look like Indigenous procurement is going anywhere. But maybe, just maybe, Walmart will finally be removed from BIP if we get that policy passed in the life of this Assembly. I'll have questions for the Minister. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1614-19(2): Truth and Reconciliation

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is tomorrow. It signifies a time of the year when Indigenous children were taken from their homes and placed in residential school. The mission was to take the Indian out of the child. We must honour all these children, the residential school survivors, the children who never returned home, as well as their parents, grandparents, families and communities.

Wearing orange is to remember these children and to acknowledge the impacts on Indigenous families and communities.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all people to reflect on the painful history here in the NWT. We cannot forget the little children and the little boys who cried at night alone for their parents and grandparents. We cannot forget the parents' and the grandparents' pain who cried for their children.

Mr. Speaker, I also ask that we all take meaningful action to reconcile this painful past and work together to build a stronger territory for our children and grandchildren. We have begun to acknowledge the discriminations faced by Indigenous children but more needs to be done, especially for our Indigenous youth in the child and family services system. Today, 98 percent of children in the NWT child and family services are Indigenous children.

Mr. Speaker, we need to start to focus on real change and give Indigenous families more support, more educational opportunities, and more resources so that they can be successful. Many residential school survivors did not receive the life skills they needed and were more comfortable in institution rather than home. That is so sad. Our jails are full of too many residential school survivors who have said being in jail is easier than living in a residential school. We need to think about having appropriate support for these residents as well.

Mr. Speaker, we all want a territory where each person has fair opportunities to build a good life and contribute to their communities. I hope that your reflection on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation lead you to positive actions for every child and person in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, the truth and reconciliation is about how we face the past and move forward. We need to do this together as a territory with the Government of the Northwest Territories, Indigenous government, nongovernment organizations and, most importantly, all the people. NWT has a population of 44,000 people. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1615-19(2): Climate Action

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, climate action is reconciliation. We're on the heels of a dry summer season of record heat and wildfire in many parts of the world spurred by a rapidly warming planet and marked by a significant absence of global climate action ambition. Yesterday we heard an excellent synopsis of this government's persistence to overpromise and under deliver on climate action and the grim reality of the progress of energy alternatives. Globally, Indigenous people protect 80 percent of the world's biodiversity but account for less than 5 percent of the global population. The true costs of climate inequity are disproportionately paid for by Indigenous Canadians where the impacts of climate injustice threaten human rights over life, water, sanitation, food supply, health, housing, selfdetermination, culture, and development.

Climate change is disproportionately impacting the North. But globally people are mobilizing, especially our children, who are increasingly turning to the courts to hold governments accountable in the fight against climate change.

This summer 16 Montana youth brought forward a suit against the state of Montana and won. The youth said the state violated their right to, quote, "a clean and healthful environment, as well as their rights to dignity, health, and safety, and equal protection in law." In April, Ontario youth took their province to court in Mathur v. Ontario. The case was dismissed but not before the judge agreed that Indigenous people and youth are disproportionately impacted by climate change and that the government is risking the lives of its residents by not going further. These are just two examples of hundreds of climate litigation cases being adjudicated around the world. Globally, courts are helping people hold governments accountable to their climate action responsibilities.

By 2050, there will be over 1.2 billion climate refugees worldwide displaced by extreme weather, rising temperatures, and damaged ecosystem. What people pass off as just a few degrees difference equate to massive shifts in weather systems, food supply, and way of life closer to the poles or here in the Northwest Territories. NWT residents have quickly become statistics as climate refugees temporarily displaced by the unmitigated impacts of climate change.

Lack of true climate action jeopardizes true reconciliation as it risks further threats against treaty and land settlement agreement rights, Charter rights, and threatens culture, traditions, and customs. The climate crisis is gaining speed, Mr. Speaker, and the work to mitigate it needs to be transparent, aspirational, funded, and fulfilled. Mr. Speaker, what would an NWT judge say about this government's climate action and its infringement on human rights and treaty rights? Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1616-19(2): Reconciliation

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow's a historic day in Canada acknowledging truth and reconciliation on Indigenous people across Canada and across our territory. Today I would like to recognize the Members in this House today who are the last residential school survivors. Yourself, Speaker Blake, MLA Jacobsen, MLA Semmler, my colleague Minister Archie, and myself Minister Chinna, and to our interpreters as well too that I could recognize, and I could just remember at the top of my head, is Sara Cleary, Therese Etchinelle, Lillian Elias, and Jonas Lafferty.

It's been a historic movement from our country, but I also want to acknowledge us as people, as Northerners, who are here today working to help and work towards the resilience of Indigenous people. I'm here today because my grandmother Jeannie Chinna survived, and my mother Martha Chinna survived, and also my foster mothers Peggy Day and Sherry Gordon both of Inuvik. As an Indigenous woman and a survivor, as to what the country calls us, we are here today.

We are healing. We are resilient. And I take most pride in this life and being a part of the opportunity to be a part of repairing us as a nation and as a territory. We are resilient. And to our grandmothers, we will make you proud. We are healing. We are still here. And when I show up, Mr. Speaker, I don't show up alone. I show up with the 10,000 Indigenous women that weren't here today. I speak for the ones that weren't able to speak for themselves. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1617-19(2): Eulogy for Alice Jane Pellissey