Debates of February 23, 2024 (day 9)



Thank you. I'd like to thank Marc Casaway for the prayer this morning.

Ministers’ Statements

Minister’s Statement 18-20(1): 2024 Arctic Winter Games

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the athletes, coaches, and mission staff who are representing Team NT at the 2024 Arctic Winter Games in the MatanuskaSusitna Valley, Alaska from March 10 to 16, 2024. The Arctic Winter Games provide an opportunity for Team NT to engage and compete with other athletes from the circumpolar region. Not only are the games an athletic competition for athletes, it also provides an opportunity to promote cultural and social exchange among youth from all parts of the North. These games help with the development of sport in the NWT and the quality of life for youth through the leadership opportunities that are provided. These experiences also leave a lasting impact on host communities and the other groups that attend. In March, Team NT will be represented by approximately 350 participants including athletes, coaches, chaperones, and mission staff from 19 communities from every region of the territory.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Team NT's chef de missions who are leading the delegation: Ms. Rita Mercredi, who will be chef de mission; Mr. Damon Crossman and Ms. Lexie Letzing, who will be assistant chef de missions.

In addition to Team NT, the Government of the Northwest Territories is once again pleased to support the NWT Youth Ambassadors Program at these games. This program continues to offer a wonderful volunteer experience for youth at major territorial, national, and international events, where they can develop life and job skills. A total of 12 youth volunteers are expected to participate in the NWT Youth Ambassador Program with the 2024 Arctic Winter Games Host Society. These volunteers are between the ages of 15 to 22 and come from various communities across the Northwest Territories.

As role models and leaders of tomorrow, I want to recognize our youth ambassadors for taking this opportunity to learn and grow by participating in this exciting volunteer experience.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Sport North Federation and all the territorial sport organizations who are responsible for selecting and managing their representative teams. They play a critical role in preparing Team NT at these games.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the many volunteers and sponsors who have selflessly offered their time and donations. Whether you are a coach, an organizer, or someone who provided meals, all of your contributions to Team NT are very much appreciated. I sincerely hope that all participants enjoy this truly wonderful experience. Good luck, play fair, and have fun. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs. Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister’s Statement 19-20(1): New Curriculum and Assessment Tools

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to provide an update on implementing the draft Northwest Territories' curriculum for junior kindergarten to Grade 12 students. As a mother of three schoolaged children and one who values innovation and critical and creative thinking, this is an exciting time for our students. The British Columbia Curriculum is renowned for its high education standards and is uniquely designed to offer students a balanced and informative approach to learning. It allows youth to learn through multiple pathways to encourage them to find their interests and learn various skills by exploring concepts practically rather than passively. Ultimately, it is designed to connect learning with the real world.

Introducing a new curriculum is no small task, and we have made significant progress. This year, we started trialing an adapted version of British Columbia's curriculum in Grades 4, 5, and 6, as well as in some Grade 9 classrooms. The new curriculum provides more opportunities for teachers to promote deeper learning. In this trialing stage, NWT teachers are encouraged to try aspects of the new curriculum, explore new teaching approaches with their students, and provide feedback to the department about what works and what could be improved. We are on track with our five key implementation areas, which include releasing a timeline for trialing and finalizing the curriculum in each grade. It includes determining Grade 12 graduation requirements and providing professional learning for teachers through inperson training workshops and online courses.

Mr. Speaker, we recently launched an online tool and forum for teachers trialing the adapted curriculum. This site allows teachers to discuss, network, submit questions, review materials, and find other helpful resources. We have also set up working groups of NWT teachers and subject matter experts for each school subject to ensure they fit our territory's context. We want to ensure Indigenous world views, knowledge, and perspectives are reflected in the curriculum. We are also publishing drafts for each subject online as they are ready, which anyone can review and provide feedback on.

Mr. Speaker, this fall, we started changing our student assessment tools and practices to align with the new curriculum. These include an interim report introducing students and families to a new marking system. This year, students in grades trialing the new curriculum will be assessed using the proficiency scale. Instead of seeing marks like 100 percent or Aplus on their report cards, students will receive a level on the scale and written comments that clearly explain how they are doing, areas they need to work on, and a plan for moving forward. When students receive a mark on their report card, like a percentage or a letter grade, there is often an emphasis on the mark itself and comparing it to others instead of focusing on how, or if, students are learning.

Mr. Speaker, focusing on student learning will allow for more meaningful conversations about student progress. The scale views learning as an ongoing rather than signaling that learning is done once you receive a certain grade. The three key elements of this new curriculum design are:

The content, what students know;

Competencies, what students can do; and,

Big ideas, so what students understand.

Mr. Speaker, this curriculum aspires to prepare students for the future by centering the learner with flexible learning focused on literacy and numeracy while supporting deeper learning through conceptbased and competencydriven approaches. Our economic foundation relies on a solid education, and I am happy that students across the territory have the opportunity to benefit from this new, more modern way of learning. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. Ministers' statements. Minister for Health and Social Services.

Minister’s Statement 20-20(1): Weaving Our Wisdom

Mr. Speaker, last week the Department of Health and Social Services hosted the second ever Weaving our Wisdom gathering for which 350 leaders, elders, and knowledgeholders from across the Northwest Territories came together to celebrate and share Indigenous communitydriven wellness knowledge. The gathering featured inspiring guest speakers, workshops, facilitated discussions on important topics such as:

Frameworks for total health optimization;

The impact of colonization and systemic racism on Indigenous people's health;

Practical strategies to heal the wounds of intergenerational trauma;

Indigenous models for suicide prevention;

Climate change's impacts on wellness;

New ideas to develop trauma healing programs for families; and finally,

Innovation around the future of Indigenous health, community wellness, and landbased healing.

The gathering showcased the resilience of Indigenous peoples spotlighting their interconnected knowledge systems that have been sustained and developed across generations. Community wellness participants explored the gathering's themes of:

Culture and care;

Selfrecognition and healing;

Community care and wellness; and,

Landbased healing.

In addition to the main agenda, three specialized programs were crafted for participants who identified as Indigenous youth, Indigenous men, and elders. The Indigenous Youth Wellness Program encouraged youth to develop skills and access resources and teachings that will help them take control of their wellness. The Indigenous Men's Wellness Program began a conversation which effectively lays out the issues northern Indigenous men face in accessing health care, wellness programming, and healing. The Indigenous Elders' Wellness Program uncovered ways to better honour elders so that they can be happy, healthy, and living well in their communities.

The priorities for the Indigenous health and wellness identified through this gathering, and through indepth public engagements in all 33 NWT communities, will form the foundation for the community wellness initiatives and northern wellness agreement with Indigenous Services Canada. The identified priorities will inform the future work of our health and social services system and will also assist a wholeofgovernment understanding of how the determinants of wellness such as housing, climate change, poverty, early childhood development, education, and selfdetermination can impact Indigenous people.

Mr. Speaker, to help achieve these goals for the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people in the Northwest Territories, the Government of the Northwest Territories must innovate and design systems directly addressing longstanding systemic racism.

I want to thank the Indigenous women and their teams who hosted and organized the Weaving our Wisdom gathering, for their work in leading this important system assessment and in aiding the development of antiracism initiatives.

Much of the heavy lifting was done by the community, culture and innovation division and the cultural safety and antiracism division of the Department of Health and Social Services, who work at the forefront of equity, cultural safety, and antiracism. They are primarily staffed with Indigenous employees and people of colour and are located not only in Yellowknife but also in Inuvik, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope, Fort Simpson, and Fort Smith.

I encourage everyone listening today to check out some of the videos, and images from this wonderful event will be on my Facebook page. It truly was a week to remember.

Mr. Speaker, I am compelled to share the profound impact of attending the feast and drum dance at the end of the Weaving our Wisdom gathering. Witnessing the vibrance and the unity of over 350 wellness leaders, elders, and knowledgeholders from across the Northwest Territories was a powerful and prideful experience for me. I think for everyone in attendance. The celebration not only showcased the resilience of Indigenous people but also highlighted the interconnected knowledge system that has sustained us across generations. It was inspiring to see so many individuals come together to celebrate and to share Indigenous wellness, weaving traditional practices into our health care system. This gathering has not only set the foundation for future initiatives, but it also reinforced the importance of cultural engagement in pursuit of a holistic health for NWT residents.

Mr. Speaker, later today at the appropriate time I will recognize this outstanding team for their incredible work on the planning and organization of this amazing gathering. Quyananni, Mr. Speaker.

Members’ Statements

Member’s Statement 93-20(1): Arts Funding

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am a proud supporter of the arts. I was thrilled to take the Member for Kam Lake and the Member for Frame Lake to the Bloody Valentine Burlesque last weekend. This weekend, I encourage all Members to attend the Black in History art exhibition this Saturday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Yellowknife Racquet Club. Inemesit Graham's portraits are a celebration of black leaders, thinkers, authors, activists, and poets throughout world history celebrating Black History Month. Admission is free.

Additionally, the Black Advocacy Coalition upNorth, BACupNorth, is having their Black History Month gala tomorrow night that celebrates black music and culture, and I believe tickets are still available.

Mr. Speaker, on the topic of boosting NWT arts, I was also heartened to see that the department of ECE recently restructured arts funding grants towards a visionary purpose the building up of or strengthening of existing arts organizations throughout the territory. I hope this vision helps propel artists into new markets and new venues when they want to grow and expand. It appears that ECE's vision will allow organizations to scale up and capacitybuild to get more federal dollars. A new arts officer position has been created to assist across our regions if I understand correctly.

Mr. Speaker, this is great news because, indeed, the more our arts organizations can apply, the more they will get.

Mr. Speaker, this works really well for large organizations like the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre or Western Arctic Moving Pictures; however, for small or medium organizations this is a brave new world. Mr. Speaker, I have heard concerns in the arts community that this brave new vision has not been properly communicated to them. I will have questions for the Minister of ECE at the appropriate time.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 94-20(1): Northwest Territories Forest Fire Evacuee Reimbursement

Mr. Speaker, after several constituency meetings across my riding of Tu NedheWiilideh, I rise to share that I views and experience with last year's wildfire season. They are still feeling the impacts of the evacuation and have a lot to say about how differently things could have been. I also want to recognize the hard work of many constituents put in to ensure that their friends and neighbours were all taken care of.

I have many people come to me during my constituency meeting with a list of receipts and expenses, hundreds and then thousands of dollars as expenses, and they don't know if they will ever get their money back. With inflation driving up the cost of living, I feel it very important to reimburse my constituents who have stepped up to spend a fortune just so they could get to safety.

I want to point out that we have a Language Act but little to none of the vital communication regarding the wildfire evacuation were available to Indigenous people in their languages. This is an absolute breach of the government's responsibilities. Many of our elders did not know what was going on. There is not how we treat our elders, and this is not how we respect local Indigenous culture.

It was very it is also very difficult to know where our community members were ending up as they flew south. I saw a lot of social media looking for their family and friends worried that they could be missing. How could any of us feel sorry, feel if our mothers and grandfathers were missing in places they may have never been before?

And then there are the supply chain disruptions. Yellowknife is the most important supply hub for food for distribution across the North. The evacuation put the supply chain into chaos. I know my people were not I know my people were not the only ones affected by this situation. We need to plan ahead and prepare better so that our supply chains can withstand major disruption caused by this kind of disaster.

I could go on, but finally, I want to mention that this is the evacuation affected the communication that stayed in place while I know Fort Resolution, YKDFN, and Lutselk'e incurred a lot of cost preparing these communities for the fire. It took on a lot of evacuees, and they haven't seen any compensation. We need to ensure that every community gets the right compensation for the work they did to protect themselves and their neighbours. Mr. Speaker, I have questions for the Premier at the appropriate time. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Tu NedheWiilideh. Members' statements. Member from Sahtu.

Member’s Statement 95-20(1): Fort Good Hope Arena Completion

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my Member's statement today is on the progress or future plans to complete the Fort Good Hope municipal arena complex. Mr. Speaker, construction renovations, as I understand, stopped a number of years ago on this facility. Residents are left in suspense, families, parents, leaders, on the future continued construction plans.

Mr. Speaker, sports and recreation facilities are essential in our small communities. These activities contribute to releasing the talents of our youth leading by examples to healthy living, expanding and participating at territorial and national tournaments, meeting and interacting with other students from other cultures. This collaboration certainly brought into the youth capacity.

Mr. Speaker, these facilities play an active role and are the backbone of our social fabric in the communities. You can particularly understand that in the smaller communities, in particular the ones that I serve, are limited access to the outside world by an allseason road plays a huge role in supporting what we have and currently have, which are limitations, but nevertheless are broadening our horizons by gathering at these facilities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And later I will have questions for the appropriate Minister. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from the Sahtu. Members' statements. Member from Monfwi.

Member’s Statement 96-20(1): Volunteers in Sports Recognitions

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker [Translation unavailable]. Youth needs a positive outlook in their lives. A sportsplex is where kids socialize. It's a place to burn off steam. They learn to challenge themselves, to work as a team, learn new skills, have friendly competition and, most importantly, to have fun. These are life skills. We know the wins and losses kids have on the ice or on the court are the wins and losses that prepare them for life. And none of this would be possible, Mr. Speaker, without the volunteers.

I want to take the time to acknowledge the amazing volunteers that are stepping forward in our communities to support children and youth. There are staffs from both Chief Jimmy Bruneau School and Elizabeth MacKenzie Elementary School, staff from the local RCMP detachment, and recreation department in Behchoko. Now there are parents stepping forward to also volunteer. I want to acknowledge these people, to thank them for their time.

Mr. Speaker, from 2007 to 2016, there were no sports facility in Behchoko. For almost ten years, the children and youth had no place where they could play sports and be active. However, Mr. Speaker, some of these kids who didn't have a sportsplex are now giving back to the youth. The recreation department is run by youth. They are all youth under 30 years of age. These young adults are taking the lead. They have lots of energy, and they are giving back to the youth with programs and activities.

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the RCMP. We know the RCMP have difficult jobs. They see all of the challenges and struggles in our community that we don't. They have hard jobs, and yet they show up at the sportsplex to volunteer their time with kids. Not only are they supporting them to be active but they are also building healthy relationships with the kids so our children and youth know the RCMP are here to protect us and to serve us. I want to thank them for their dedication to our community. Mr. Speaker, can I have a unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Mr. Speaker, we all know time is precious. It is people like this that give their time that truly makes a difference in the world. Mr. Speaker, it takes a community to raise a child, and it is volunteers like this that make our community a better place to live. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 97-20(1): Daycare

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, yesterday we had a federal Minister here to celebrate the NWT achieving an average cost of $10aday child care. Unfortunately, this drive to lower fees has pushed this sector to the brink, especially in regional centres of the NWT such as Yellowknife and Inuvik.

The feds and the GNWT seem to have gone about this backwards based on a poor understanding of the struggles and challenges within the child care sector. By treating staff wages and organizational viability as an afterthought, it implies that the problem that we're trying to solve is that these daycares are gouging parents so we just have to force them to charge less. But this couldn't be further from the truth. Our child care providers are usually nonprofits or else small familybased day homes. It doesn't matter how affordable spaces are, if the spaces don't exist.

What we hear from child care providers, which have formed a joint advocacy organization called the Early Childhood Association in response to these threats, is that the number one concern is attracting and retaining staff. Staff are paid significantly less than comparable positions in our communities in early childhood learning, whether that's in the schools or in the government, and those providers that have been trying to increase staff wages are now being penalized and losing money, and they're faced with the choice of either shutting down or renouncing all government funding.

Now we're seeing in other provinces revolving closures of daycares, providers walking away from the funding, and parents suffering the consequences with even higher fees than ever. Now, GNWT has responded to some of these challenges by saying okay, we'll give you topups for staff wages but now we have to dictate how much you can pay each of your staff. So we're increasingly trying to micromanage these operations and saying well, we've worked out the finances for each provider to ensure, don't worry, you're going to be financially viable and sustainable. We just haven't shared those numbers with them yet. So providers could be forgiven for wondering well, why doesn't ECE just take over these programs if they're the ones that know best? Why don't they just show the sector how these programs can be run so cheaply and efficiently according to the GNWT's formulas that haven't been shared with us yet? Mr. Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So at the root of this problem is that we've negotiated an agreement with the federal government in a rush based on incomplete numbers and not to mention that it doesn't take inflation into account, we're locked into this $10 a day, because it's a round number, but we have a limited pool of money from the feds that is not enough to spread around to keep daycares afloat. So I understand that a new agreement's being negotiated with the feds, so I see this as an opportunity to fully include the Early Childhood Association

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Member from Yellowknife North, your time is up. Members' statements. Member from Mackenzie Delta.

Member’s Statement 98-20(1): Housing Allocations

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we have residents within our communities who want nothing but to better their lives for themselves and their families. I am referring to residents of our communities who want to return back to school in hopes of finding a secure career path for their immediate future. Their hopes and dreams are soon diminished upon returning to their home communities to find that they do not have a home to go to.

Mr. Speaker, I was contacted by a constituent from my riding who stated that she wanted to go back to school for this very reason. Before leaving her community with her family of four, she was assured by the local housing authority that her housing unit would be available once she finishes school. Today she is on a lengthy waiting list and sharing a home with a family of five. In total, there are nine people staying in the home.

Mr. Speaker, completing an accredited course should be a time of celebration, not one where you start to worry about how you are going to house your family. This young lady has informed me that the local housing authority and Housing NWT should revisit their policies and procedures into how housing units are allocated. Mr. Speaker, this disappointed young lady stated that there are small families living in units where bigger families can be better accommodated. The allocation of housing units needs to be strategized where the size of the family is considered. I know this is a problem in every community, and if the department can get feedback from the community members on where and how some of these ongoing issues might be resolved then that is a good start.

Mr. Speaker, I will always refer back to when we were strong and independent before Housing NWT intervened and tried to make our lives better. Today this is a national crisis, and the residents of 33 communities want to be involved in how Housing NWT should accommodate its residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Mackenzie Delta. Oral questions. Member from Range Lake.

Member’s Statement 99-20(1): Licensed Gaming

Mr. Speaker, if there's one thing Northerners love, it's a good bingo. Gaming has been part of northern culture since the earliest times and continues to be enjoyed in communities large and small. Whether it's bingo, hand games Chase the Ace, or a simple 50/50, we all love playing games and the chance at winning prices. Gaming brings our communities together. Unfortunately, though, we are preventing this industry from seeing its full potential. When Northerners want an occasional stop at a casino, they have to wait until they take a trip down south.

Mr. Speaker, licensed gaming is a big industry and is encouraged across the country. Casinos, VLTs, and online betting are billion-dollar opportunities. Gaming creates wealth for communities, enhances tourism, and is a major source of prosperity for many Indigenous governments and communities in Canada. It's a shame that our own policies and legislation are only scratching the surface of what a real gaming industry could look like in the NWT. We need to cut the red tape and regulations that hold us back from joining the rest of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, close your eyes and imagine the vast revenue opportunities made possible by expanding our small but incredibly popular gambling and gaming industries. Imagine a hotel and resort sitting on the shores of the big lakes raking in cold hard cash from eager tourists enriching the coffers of Indigenous and public governments. We could transform our economy with an open mind and a willingness to embrace this important industry. The industry and opportunity are there, Mr. Speaker. We just need the reforms and willingness from the Minister responsible to chart a safe path forward to a fruitful gaming industry in the Northwest Territories. Let's not shy away from this cornerstone of our northern culture and instead find a way to work with Indigenous governments to make new economic opportunities out of these traditions. We are always seeking new ways to generate revenue and increase our tourism product, so let's get to work modernizing our Acts and regulations and encourage private enterprise by opening up the gaming industry in the Northwest Territories for Northerners and tourists from all over the world. A thriving gaming industry can only enhance our status as a world class destination for tourists and solve much needed revenue challenges for this government. I look forward to asking the Minister responsible later on how we can partner with Indigenous governments to finally the Northwest Territories' gaming industry a reality. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Range Lake. Members' statements. Member from Frame Lake.

Member’s Statement 100-20(1): Non-Profit Sector

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A few weeks ago, I asked the Premier questions about the recommendations of the strengthening the nonprofit and charitable sector external advisory committee final report. The Premier's office provided a reply by email, and I would like to highlight that reply and respond to it on the record. The reply reads as follows:

Currently work is underway to strengthen the nonprofit and charitable sectors in the Northwest Territories. The first two recommendations from the external advisory committee's report focus on updating the Government of the Northwest Territories program managers guide for funding NGOs. Collaboration between the Departments of Executive and Indigenous Affairs and Finance is ongoing to review and revise the program managers guide. The work will be completed in the next 12 months. The public will be informed, and the guide will be widely available.

I appreciate this answer, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to reviewing the updated guide as I'm sure my colleagues do as well. The response went on to read:

The third recommendation involves the analysis and development of options for consideration by the 20th Assembly. This includes exploring additional support, particularly financial assistance to enhance the capacity and stability of the nonprofit and charitable sectors in their operations. Work on this third recommendation has not yet started.

I appreciate the Premier providing this response, Mr. Speaker, and I respectfully suggest that the answer is somewhat underwhelming but I do trust that as the new Minister for this file, it is the Premier's intention to ensure that staff act upon the recommendations of the strengthening the nonprofit and charitable sector report.

Mr. Speaker, many of our longstanding nonprofits play a significant role in helping us achieve several of our newly stated priorities and, considering this, I strongly advocate that implementing all of the recommendations from this report form part of the executive and Indigenous affairs department's mandate for the 20th Assembly. In particular I want to emphasize, as my colleague did earlier this week, the importance of longterm and stable funding for longstanding NGOs who work to implement program directly work to implement programming directly related to GNWT responsibilities. I look forward to discussing this further with my colleagues on both sides of the House as a mandate is developed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member from the Deh Cho.

Member’s Statement 101-20(1): Diabetes In Indigenous Communities – Time to conclude allowed

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to talk about the impacts of diabetes on our residents, particularly on Indigenous people and communities in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, according to a March 2023 article from the US National Institute of Health, diabetes among Indigenous people in Canada is at epidemic levels. The Canadian Medical Association Journal has said that inequities in the social, cultural, historical, economic, and political determinants of health, lack of access to nutritionally adequate food, and barriers to proper health care, played major roles in the diabetes epidemic in Indigenous populations. Moreover, Mr. Speaker, according to Diabetes Canada, the rates of individuals with diabetes includes 12.7 percent of First Nations living off reserve, 9.9 percent of Metis people, and 4.7 of Inuit people compared to 5 percent of the general population.

Mr. Speaker, Indigenous people did not always have such a high rate of individuals with diabetes as there are today. It was only within the last 100 years that the Indigenous population have become significantly and disproportionately affected by diabetes and experience higher rates of mortality, hospitalizations, and complications compared to nonIndigenous people in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, this epidemic is a result of multiple compounding factors from Canada's colonial history, which included residential schools, the 60s Scoop, and Indian hospital. These factors have created longlasting physical, social, mental, emotional harms for our communities. Or, as one board member from the National Aboriginal Diabetes Association put it, diabetes has become now multigenerational.

Overall, Mr. Speaker, the small communities we see in the small communities we see it all the time, pop, chips, and Canadian, junk food is readily available, whereas healthier food is less accessible and more expensive. Nutrition is taking a back seat within our food system

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Member from the Deh Cho, your time is up.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement, Mr. Speaker.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you to my colleagues. Nutrition is taking a back seat with our food system, and that is just not right. It is literally killing our people. It is sending our residents to an early grave, and it must change. Our government, at every level government for that matter, must work to reverse the diabetes epidemic. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from the Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member from Yellowknife Centre.

Member’s Statement 102-20(1): Northwest Territories Bursary Program

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And good day, colleagues. I'm going to tell you a sad story about a young person, a lifelong Northerner and a resident of Yellowknife, who recently talked to me and brought forward their concern, deep disappointment about their experience of working through the NWT Health and Social Services Bursary Program.

Now this young person, I was really inspired and now I'm not going to table it because it's a they're even a published author, Mr. Speaker. They work with groups like Home Base, the Tree of Peace, and many other wonderful organizations, even Dechinta, about trying to find healthy lifestyles for people, Mr. Speaker. And it's a shame to see this potential and excitement wasted.

So she's been trying to find work here in the Northwest Territories in her health background and found it was a dead end so very disappointing without getting the inspiration and opportunity she was really craving. And so she thought well, why don't I pursue my masters degree in food security. So she applied and she's been doing it over the last couple of years and she's been making great strides, and to be honest I was really excited when she told me about the work she's doing. She's even worked in the community of Tuktoyaktuk, visiting the community freezer, again talking about sustainable communities, Indigenous health by eating better, working better, working collaboratively.

Mr. Speaker, she applied last summer to get a bursary of $6,000 and being a smart person, maybe that's her fault, she was too smart. She asked where would I see myself in this return of service for my bursary? By asking that simple question, the department realized oh, wait a minute, we shouldn't have given her a bursary because we don't know we don't have a vision of where she would fit in the system helping Northerners; a homegrown Northerners who the carpet's been pulled from her, Mr. Speaker. So they sent her a little Dear John letter of saying, sorry, but you know, sorry but not sorry, we're gonna take it away. $6,000, Mr. Speaker. Exactly. Shame. It's pittance.

Mr. Speaker, in a public service of over 6,482 employees with the annual vacancy of a thousand people, no one had the imagination in the department of health where to find someone who has such important skills to help Northerners. So whether you live in Lutselk'e, you live in Tuktoyaktuk, you live in the Mackenzie Delta, these skills and homegrown inspirational stories are important to all our youth as we try to lead them towards opportunities that build and strengthen our future. Mr. Speaker, I'll have questions with the Minister of Finance about fixing this deep and grave wrong. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Yellowknife Centre.

Member’s Statement 103-20(1): Fort Liard Snowboard Program 2024

Colleagues, when you think about snowboarding, you think about mountain, ski resorts, but it is a sport that has taking hold in the Northwest Territories. It is a great opportunity to observe youth being youth vulnerable, risky, daring, adventurous, and being silly. It is amazing watching youth making memories and, more importantly, with friends. Beyond the warm clothes and wintery ambience lies a culture that you need to see to appreciate.

In the North, you must find a creative way to get the participants on top of the hill. Sometimes it takes hiking up the hill to go down. Other times, it's jumping into a sled and pulled up by a snowmobile.

After a gap in programming of some years, the community of Fort Liard saw snowboarding being restarted on January 18th, 2024. This was after the community and local businesses fixed up their sliding hill. As in the past their program was strong. It attracted up to 30 young people ranging in ages 12 to 18, and four Fort Liard youth attended two separate Arctic Winter Games as members of the snowboarding team. With financial support from municipal and community affairs' Local Sport Leaders and Sport and Recreation Program and the Mackenzie Recreation Association, they hosted a fourday coaching and skills development event facilitated by Arctic Winter Games coach Scott Stirling and certified coach Liam Upton. Attendance was excellent, especially by females who made up twothirds of the participants. The hamlet is planning to rebuild the program to the point where their youth will be selected and qualified to participate in Arctic Winter Games trials and eventually outside the community.

The youth are excited about the upcoming events being held in Fort Simpson this March, sponsored by NWT Snowboard. The youth are very excited to be attending.

In closing, I have been told you can never get bored snowboarding. Once you've learnt a trick, you can learn it with style. It's a social sport; you kind of play together. There is always more to learn, different places to try things, different features to experience with and different people to snowboard with. I wish the Fort Liard snowboarding group all the best in future adventures. Thank you.

Members' statements. Member from Nunakput.

Member’s Statement 104-20(1): Constituency Condolences

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to offer condolences to the recent passings in the Nunakput riding over the last month. First, the loss of Joseph Haluksit in Ulukhaktok, a respected elder and community leader who I had the distinction of sitting with on the Inuvialuit Communications Society. Condolences to Elsie and family in Ulukhaktok.

Next is the loss of Sandy Wolki, a respected elder, harvester and musician, who was also one of our few Inuvialuktun language leaders left, someone who we all turned to when we needed support in advancing an Inuvialuktun language initiative, a wealth of knowledge and expertise.

Third is Mrs. Elizabeth Panaktalok, a respected elder in Tuktoyaktuk who was of humble character and lived her life taking care of her children and grandchildren. Elizabeth was a quiet, gentle person, but active in community events.

Fourth was Mr. Robert A. Gruben. Robert was an avid hunter and harvester who shared his traditional food to many in the community. I can remember last summer we needed muktuk for the youth northern games [Translation unavailable] and immediately he went out hunting and him and his partner Chanisse, my niece, harvested a whale so we could feed people during the games. That kind of expertise and generosity is few and far between. His death is tragic as he was so young, but we have lost so many over the last number of months including Mr. Robert Lundrigan, a mentor to many youth, a father, and grandfather; and Mr. Wayne Chicksi, a young father and husband but also one of our home care professionals.

This is a reminder to all of us to treat people well and live your best life. I hold them all in prayer. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member. Our prayers and condolences go out to the families. It's sad we lose too many people over time.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery