Debates of February 28, 2024 (day 12)

20th Assembly, 1st Session
Members Present
Hon. Caitlin Cleveland, Mr. Edjericon, Mr. Hawkins, Hon. Lucy Kuptana, Hon. Jay MacDonald, Hon. Vince McKay, Mr. McNeely, Ms. Morgan, Mr. Morse, Mr. Nerysoo, Ms. Reid, Mr. Rodgers, Hon. Lesa Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Testart, Mr. Thompson, Mrs. Weyallon Armstrong, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek, Mrs. Yakeleya


Ministers’ Statements

Minister’s Statement 27-20(1): Marine Transportation Services

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories formed the Marine Transportation Services, or MTS division, in 2017 to ensure that remote communities on Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie River, and the Arctic Coast would have continued access to essential everyday goods. After seven sailing seasons providing reliable, this commitment has not wavered. Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Speaker, and MTS's work during an extremely challenging 2023 season exemplified our dedication to customer service. The operating conditions faced by both MTS and the fuel services division in 2023 required staff to be creative and decisive to overcome the obstacles climate change and Mother Nature threw at us. Not only was the season disrupted by two evacuations of Hay River, where MTS's head office, main terminal and shipyards are located, but there were also unprecedented low water levels on the Mackenzie River. When it became apparent early in the summer that water levels on the Mackenzie River might threaten the delivery of essential goods and fuel to communities in the BeaufortDelta region, staff quickly pivoted and developed contingency plans. That is why MTS made the decision to truck 33 loads of cargo to Tuktoyaktuk instead of sending it by barge on the Mackenzie River. We did not want to take the chance that this essential cargo would not make it to those communities. It is also why MTS and the fuel services division decided to have fuel delivered by tanker along the north shore and then offloaded to MTS barges near Tuktoyaktuk instead of barging the fuel from the main terminal in Hay River.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say we succeeded in shipping 22.7 million litres of fuel and 3,400 tonnes of cargo to 11 northern communities last year. However, despite the hard work and dedication of our staff, some of the challenges remained and were insurmountable.

The final delivery to Tulita and Norman Wells was cancelled in September, negatively impacting clients in both communities. This was not the outcome anyone wanted, and we worked to have priority grocery items flown into Norman Wells in October. Other freight was stranded, both dry goods and fuel, and it is being trucked to Norman Wells and Tulita on the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road or will be delivered by barge from Hay River in the 2024 season.

And speaking of the 2024 sailing season, early indications are that water levels throughout the Northwest Territories could be low once again, and the wildfire season is only a few months away. To provide the best service possible, MTS staff are busy developing contingency plans on potential obstacles to operations, so our communities and customers get their fuel and goods when they need it.

Mr. Speaker, providing the best value for the communities and customers we serve and setting a sustainable path forward are the GNWT's top priorities for MTS operations. A comprehensive independent review of the MTS governance and operations model is currently underway. We are committed to reviewing multiple options to determine the best longterm plan for the territorial government's involvement in marine transportation. We expect to have a draft report ready by this summer that will outline the MTS governance options. I will share this report with the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment when that becomes available.

Mr. Speaker, residents and businesses will continue to depend on marine resupply services for years to come. No matter what governance option is chosen, what will not change is the number one priority of MTS which is delivering costeffective, reliable, professional, and essential resupply services to northern communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister of Infrastructure. Ministers' statements. Minister for Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister’s Statement 28-20(1): Celebrating Francophonie in the Northwest Territories

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. Ministers' statements. Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

Minister’s Statement 29-20(1): Environment and Climate Change’s Approach to Wildfire Management

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of discussion in this House and across the Northwest Territories about the 2023 wildfire season. The territory experienced its worst wildfire season last year, with a record amount of land burned and the most impact on residents and individual homes, businesses, and cabin owners. Severe drought conditions, record high temperatures, and extreme wind events resulted in fire behaviour unlike anything our most experienced firefighters have ever seen before. Other jurisdictions like British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and Nova Scotia also experienced record fire seasons and faced the same challenges we did, and in many cases with even greater impacts and losses.

Mr. Speaker, the residents of the Northwest Territories had a front row seat to the 2023 wildfire season, seeing what happened in their own communities and watching it unfold across the NWT through the news and social media. Everyone had their own unique firsthand experiences, and I know many people have questions. Given my personal role and extensive experience in wildfire management, I feel it is important to help people better understand how we manage wildfires in the territory.

The NWT has a wellestablished wildfire management program supported by highlytrained, experienced, and dedicated crews, wildfire experts, and support staff. We work closely with wildfire agencies across Canada and share resources and expertise with each other as needed through mutual aidsharing agreements. Last summer, many firefighters from the NWT's northern communities spent multiple rotations in the southern NWT and over 1,000 people came to the NWT to help with our response.

It is important to note that fire is a natural and important part of our ecosystem and is essential to keeping our forests healthy. A natural wildfire regime results in a patchwork of forest ages, which is important to support the wildlife that rely on it, and limit the size and spread of future fires.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT does not have a let it burn policy. All new fires receive a response. Decisions on which fires to actively manage are made by experienced wildfire managers based on the need to protect values at risk while allowing fire to play its important role in our ecosystem.

Over the past 30 years, 109 fires were successfully put out in the areas around Enterprise. Within the same period, 104 fires were extinguished in the area that burned toward Behchoko last summer. In 2023, a combination of builtup fuels and the extreme and unprecedented conditions we experienced resulted in wildfires that were too extreme to control. We will always work to put out fires close to communities but fighting every fire is not the answer. Fighting all fires that are not threatening values at risk results in the buildup of forest fuels which can lead to larger fires in the future that are extremely difficult to control. We saw this happen near several communities last summer.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT's forest fire management policy guides all decisions and approaches to wildfire management. It includes a value at risk system that prioritizes responses to wildfires based on the protection of human life first, followed by the protection of property, critical infrastructure, and other values such as cultural sites and key caribou habitat. This policy was developed collaboratively over a threeyear period. Its development included engagement with every forested community in the NWT and was led by a working group that included Indigenous governments and organizations, GNWT departments, and other stakeholders. While this policy is over 30 years old, its principles remain valid today.

The Department of Environment and Climate Change's wildfire management approach includes a strong emphasis on community collaboration and using all available local, Indigenous, and scientific knowledge to inform wildfire management decisions. I can reassure residents of the Northwest Territories that every fire was assessed last summer, and every fire that posed a threat to communities or value at risk was actioned. We faced very challenging conditions that grounded aircraft and crews at times, and we experienced extreme fire behaviour that was sometimes too dangerous to put crews in front of. Despite these challenges, we did everything possible to fight these fires and protect our communities.

Mr. Speaker, Environment and Climate Change is working closely with communities to prepare for the 2024 wildfire season. Regional and headquarter staff continue to meet with community governments, Indigenous governments, and the public in every forested community. We are working with communities to update their wildfire protection plans and implement wildfire prevention and mitigation measures like FireSmart projects. Managing fire at the forest and urban interface is a shared responsibility, and it is critical that we work together.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude for the tremendous work done by our wildfire management team, fire crews, communities, contractors, and others who protected our residents and our communities last summer. I am confident that they will be ready to face the challenges for the next fire season. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Members’ Statements

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to provide some history behind the reason that we celebrate Pink Shirt Day. I have adopted a post from the Northern Mosaic Network that speaks to this history.

Pink Shirt Day began in a small town in Nova Scotia in 2007. Pink Shirt Day started as a movement by students and teachers at a school that decided to wear pink shirts in support of a 2SLGBTQIPA+ student after they were bullied, harassed, and threatened for wearing a pink shirt.

Pink Shirt Day is often overlooked and overshadowed by the focus of antibullying having moved away from addressing homophobia that the students face in our schools often by their peers and sometimes adults in their school communities. Regardless of how you choose to recognize Pink Shirt Day today, please take the time to make sure that you're reflecting that this day started as a reaction to address homophobia and not just antibullying and though days of allyship are like today are important, active allyship is standing up against homophobia on days when you're not asked to wear a pink shirt and you likely won't get recognition.

Students in our schools across the territory still suffer from homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, and our communities need to come together and help create safer, healthier, and supportive communities for our young 2SLGBTQIPA+ people. As one of the founders of the Northern Mosaic Network, Jacq Brasseur, likes to remind people every year Keep the day, Keep the gay, in Pink Shirt Day. I'll have questions for the Minister of ECE. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 131-20(1): Water Regulations and Red Tape Reduction

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, when people refer to changes needed in our regulatory system, it is often said that we need to cut the red tape. As someone with experience working in this system, something which stands out to me is that in many cases sweeping regulatory reform is not what we need to or even should be talking about. Rather, there are many achievable and shortterm changes we can make regarding how the system is working and how we work within it. I think the GNWT has more agency in this regard than it gives itself credit for, and we have an opportunity to make changes within the term of the 20th Assembly which can bring more clarity, predictability, and efficiency to our regulatory system.

One of those changes is initiating amendments to the waters regulations.

In fall 2023, the water boards of the Mackenzie Valley initiated public consultation on interpretation of the waters regs with regards to use of water for ice bridges. The boards acknowledged in their engagement that the legislation is not entirely clear, which is the crux of the issue, Mr. Speaker. Legislation which leaves things such as this open to interpretation creates problems for everyone involved in the system. It creates ambiguity and uncertainty.

In their submissions on the questions raised by the boards, GNWT raised concern with the board's interpretation of the regs citing concerns about significant increases in regulatory timelines, additional costs, negative industry perceptions, all of which could disincentivize mineral exploration in the NWT. In their response, the Tlicho government said that they took concerns raised by the GNWT seriously and that they have merit; however, and in their words, we must work with the regulations we have been dealt. And therein lies the problem, Mr. Speaker. We can talk about interpretation for years, but the underlying issue is that the current regulations are not clear. The TG called on the GNWT and federal government to take a proactive approach and come together with Indigenous partners to review and potentially amend the regulations. I appreciate this suggestion and agree, Mr. Speaker. Let's take a proactive approach to the problems we face, particularly when we are in a position to change them.

And with the little bit of time left I have, Mr. Speaker, for this statement, I wanted to acknowledge that I was really impressed and encouraged to see the interdepartmental collaboration on this issue that was done by ECC and several other departments. That's great to see. It's exactly what we need to be doing. And I appreciate the good work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member from Yellowknife North.

Member’s Statement 132-20(1): On-the-Land Education

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, something very close to my heart is ontheland education. In my previous life, I worked with Bush Kids NWT. We started with a simple wall tent and a fire pit out behind the Yellowknife fieldhouse, along with a bucket of tools like an axe, a saw, rope, tarps. Our team always included Indigenous elders and knowledgeholders. We would spend all day outside with kids, anywhere from three years old to high school age, even in the coldest days of winter. Our mantra was that we were learning to take care of ourselves, take care of each other, and the land. It sounds simple and in some ways it is, yet we put up barriers to making ontheland education happen in this territory partly because of our own fears. What if they get cold? What if they burn themselves on the fire? What if they fall and hurt themselves? What if they get attacked by wild animals? What if the wall tents get vandalized? It's easier just to keep the kids safe and keep them inside. But are the kids really safer inside?

We assume the status quo is risk free yet our kids are not attending school, they're disconnected from their cultures, they're struggling with mental health and even suicide. We overcomplicate things by creating these huge budgets for ontheland camps thinking we need to build big facilities and travel way out into the wilderness, but then we can only afford to do it maybe once a year.

Kids need to go outside on a regular basis close to home. When a kid is labelled a troublemaker but then they get to go outside and they're trusted with an axe, supervised of course, and the responsibility for keeping the camp warm, they suddenly feel important. They have a role. They have a sense of identity. I've seen incredible transformations in kids when we let them be curious, come up with their own questions, get excited about exploring the land on their own terms, when they learn about Indigenous culture not in a theoretical way but do it in a hand's on way, it's incredible to see the selfconfidence that they gain. And when the group experience conflict in that setting, I mean all kids are going to be jerks sometimes, let's be real, but there's something about being on the land that brings out our instinct to be kinder to one another. Mr. Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, these kids are our future public service. Imagine the transformation in this government if we raise our future civil servants to be confident in their Indigenous identity, to be curious, to take initiative, to explore new paths, to take risks not out of recklessness but skillfully with careful preparation, to be kind and take care of one another? What an investment in our future, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Member from Range Lake.

Member’s Statement 133-20(1): Government of the Northwest Territories Cultural Safety Policies

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today on Pink Shirt Day, as this year's Black History Month comes to an end, to speak to the government's cultural safety and strategy. Safety certainly is a spectrum, Mr. Speaker. There are many obvious ways we must keep ourselves and each other safe from mental harm and physical harm every day. Cultural safety and traumainformed approaches, particularly outlined in the Department of Health and Social Services's cultural safety action plan, is creating a space where Indigenous peoples feel safe and respected, free of racism and discrimination. Of course, in the spirit of solidarity and with the nature of systemic racism being what it is, these are values we obviously want to uphold for every racialized community and marginalized culture as we should not tolerate or perpetuate racism or bigotry of any kind. The imperative behind the Department of Health and Social Services establishing cultural safety strategies, specifically to create safer spaces for Indigenous communities, is, as we all know, because our governing institutions and the services they provided were not initially created to be safe for Indigenous people at all. In fact, quite the contrary. The delivery of health and social services in its various forms throughout the history of Canada was used to perpetuate colonialism and assimilate Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous people still struggle with the effects of these policies and the racist culture that persisted in health care to this day. There is a deep mistrust built into the system, and we need to rebuild that trust and tear down those colonial attitudes so that health care and social services can be delivered safely and effectively to Indigenous peoples in ways that respect their cultures and traditions.

Mr. Speaker, this mistrust extends beyond our health and social services. The legacy of colonialism persists across the GNWT. We need to extend cultural safety and traumainformed approaches to public policy beyond health care to every department and agency. We need a wholeofgovernment approach from the executive to make this happen. The GNWT sees a future where it's not a colonial government, and the previous government took some major steps in that direction. I encourage this new government to keep moving in the right direction. Let's make the GNWT a responsible, safe government for all Indigenous peoples, and all racialized peoples, so we can work closer together as a territory united in a vision of equality, justice, and prosperity for all. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Range Lake. Members' statements. Member from the Sahtu.

Member’s Statement 134-20(1): Northwest Territories Economic Future

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Predicted economic concerns and notices there. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The NWT economic is on the trajectory that will see its mining, oil and gas sector diminish to a small fraction of what it is today. It will leave the territory's economy almost entirely dependent on Canadian taxpayers to fund its very existence. This may sound farfetched, alarmist, and perhaps even controversial.

The purpose of this paper is not to frighten or stoke the controversy. It is fact that the NWT diamond mines will close, and the oil production in Norman Wells will come to an end. It is also fact that minerals, oil and gas, make up the lion's share of the territory's total exports equivalent to 66 percent. Mr. Speaker, when these products are no longer available for sale, the territory will lose an important resource, a source of income, that find the its way through the economy affecting businesses, labour, government revenues. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, it seems reasonable to look at the pending loss of mineral, oil and gas production with concern and to learn what we can do about the implications of a diminished resource sector.

Mr. Speaker, what will economic life look like after when the resource sector is no longer a dominant part of the territory's economic landscape?

The Northwest Territories economy has endless potential transitioning to a low carbon stability as a global imperative one. Our region is ripe with strategic metals fundamental to the EV industry and, collectively, we must institute measures to make capital investments, such as that in our natural resources. Natural resources are put to a sustainable development stage. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement today.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this addendum to the working paper Eyes Wide Open is to start a second conversation regarding to the risk of becoming a welfare state and why the territory might want to avoid its possibility. The discussion points are just the starting point for a deeper conversation and many conversations but, more importantly, to start having them now. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 135-20(1): Akaitcho Agreement in Principle Negotiations

Mr. Speaker, it has been 24 years since the Akaitcho Dene First Nation, the Government of Canada, and Government of the Northwest Territories came together to sign an interim measures Agreement, and they worked towards a land claim selfgovernment agreement. Negotiations to reach an agreementinprinciple have contingencies since then without much progress until last year when the former Premier Caroline Cochrane announced that there's an agreement on land claims and selfgovernment agreement for the Akaitcho was finally in sight. A draft agreement was reached last year, and Premier Cochrane stressed that this was a result of the GNWT's sincere interest in building meaningful partnership with Indigenous governments. Premier Cochrane's term ended afterwards, but her Premier seemed hopeful that she was handing her successor every opportunity to finally reach an agreementinprinciple within a few years.

The people sorry, the Akaitcho region needs a land claim, a selfgovernment agreement with the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada. They need control over their lands, access to resources and royalties, and have a recognized selfgovernment. It's also true through the fact Northwest Territories needs a land claim and selfagreement with Akaitcho, an agreement on land claim sorry, this land claim is an economic environmental industry wants to investment in cooperative Indigenous people in their governments. Everyone benefits in a true nationtonation relationship with the GNWT and Indigenous governments because it means more prosperity for everyone. This isn't a conversation that's just about distribution of wealth and land. It's a conversation about the future and shared wealth where everyone in the Northwest Territories can thrive.

Our new government has signalled that it wants to pursue these nationtonation relationships. Our new Premier has the vision of collaborative government in the Northwest Territories where power is shared between them and Indigenous governments. The vision is simply incomplete without the land claims and selfgovernment agreement.

Agreement with the Akaitcho, now that we have a new government that seeks to build upon the work of the last government which introduced United Nation Declaration of Human Rights of Indigenous People and signed the draft agreement with the Akaitcho leadership, my people want to know what will happen now. Where does the work and agreementinprinciple stand today? And what is the new government doing to get it done properly for the fair cooperation with the Akaitcho Dene First Nation. I look forward to hearing from the Premier on this progress made towards the goal later today. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Member from Tu NedheWiilideh. Members' statements. Member from Mackenzie Delta.

Member’s Statement 136-20(1): Addictions and Healing in Small Communities

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the problems that we are encountering within our smaller communities is not the same as the bigger centres. The leaders and community members are the people who best understand the concerns of their specific communities; therefore, financial resources should be allocated to the communities to heal their communities.

Mr. Speaker, back in the 1970s, Elizabeth Collin, Bertha Francis, Jane Charlie Sr. and Dorothy Alexie, took it upon themselves to go for treatment to address their addiction problems. They did not like the way their lives were leading. They wanted a better lifestyle for their families. They went to Henwood, Alberta, and participated in the 28day treatment program. This led to other members of the community to follow suit and go for treatment themselves. This was a community initiative.

Mr. Speaker, after a few months of enjoying their new lives, a few of these ladies attended an AA roundup here in Yellowknife. It is here they saw the support that is shared with each other and how strong it made them. This new-found strength that these ladies possessed, they wanted to share that strength with their communities. They applied for a fund to open a local AA centre, a safe place for the residents to come and enjoy each other’s company without the use of alcohol.

Mr. Speaker, the financial resources that was provided did not include wages for anyone. This was strictly on a volunteer basis. I can remember going to this safe house and engaging with others of all ages. The centre stayed open into the 1990s but again due to financial restraint from the government, the centre had to close its doors. The volunteers continued to provide counselling service to community members from their homes or they would go to potential clients' home. This is an example of caring.

Mr. Speaker, the statement is addressed to all departments of this government. When we have social programs within our communities, it has an impact on all departments. I would like to see community social programs being funded by all the departments so that we can live in a safe and healthy community. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Mackenzie Delta. Members' statements. Member from Inuvik Boot Lake.

Member’s Statement 137-20(1): Government of the Northwest Territories Indigenous Employees

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about Indigenous employees in the GNWT. It's a topic that has been raised numerous times in this House, Mr. Speaker. The public service is the largest employer in the Northwest Territories, whether it's federal, territorial, or municipal community government. The public service is present in every community and employs the majority of NWT residents.

And, Mr. Speaker, we know the GNWT has grown over the years. The latest labour force activity reports show a total public service in the NWT grew by 500 over the past year. But, Mr. Speaker, I'm concerned that as the public service grows, is the number of Indigenous employees also growing? Based on the 20222023 Public Service Annual Report, Indigenous Aboriginal employees represent 29 percent of the entire public service, including departments and agencies, Mr. Speaker. Out of a total of 6,481 employees, 1,883 are Indigenous Aboriginal. Also, Mr. Speaker, Indigenous Aboriginal females have far greater representation in the GNWT workforce at 21.1 percent whereas Indigenous Aboriginal men represent a mere 7.9 percent.

Mr. Speaker, what are the supports in place to bring Indigenous Aboriginal men into the GNWT workforce and to develop their skills over time?

Mr. Speaker, I do want to recognize the significant work that was accomplished over the life of the 19th Assembly to increase Indigenous representation in the workforce. In response to the standing committee's report on Indigenous representation in the Northwest Territories public service, the GNWT committed to developing a new policy that solely prioritized to hiring of Indigenous persons. Mr. Speaker, this is one tool the GNWT has to improve Indigenous hires in the GNWT. I encourage what tools have been used successfully over the past few years and what policies and programs actually improved the outcome of Indigenous hires in the GNWT. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Inuvik Boot Lake. Members' statements. Member from Monfwi.

Member’s Statement 138-20(1): Pink Shirt Day

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today is Pink Shirt Day. It is a day across Canada that we stand up against bullying. Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that bullying has become part of our culture and society. Bullying is a form of lateral violence that crosses all ages, and bullying comes in so many forms.

Mr. Speaker, bullying happens with children on the playground, with youth in the classrooms, gossiping and making fun of people, to teenagers with verbal attacks on social media. And we know that bullying doesn't end in our childhood. Mr. Speaker, all too often we see that it continues into adulthood in our social life and workplace. When bullying goes unaddressed, we allow it to become normalized.

Mr. Speaker, as Indigenous people we know all too well how bullying can take many forms from colonizations to the residential school systems to the 60s Scoop. As Indigenous people, we have been living against bullying our whole life. Indigenous women and girls especially have suffered from this system from racism, sexism, jealousy, intimate partner violence, police brutality, to those who are missing and murdered. Indigenous women continue to survive a system that has been designed to bully them.

Mr. Speaker, the only way we can fight lateral violence is with kindness and identify uprooting causes of violence. And it starts with each one of us in our private lives and our public lives. Mr. Speaker, we all have a gift of our voice. We should not use our tongue as a weapon. We need to lift each other up and support one another, especially those who may be struggling. Mr. Speaker, as elected Members, it starts here in this House as well. Let's use this day to remind one another we are all here to support our constituents.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Member from Monfwi, your time is up.

Can I have unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We should be an example of our behaviour we want to see across the territory. We don't always have to agree in this House or like all the decisions that are made, but with consensus government we can show how we can disagree and still be respectful and kind as we move forward together. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Monfwi. Before we move on to the next person, the translators have asked us to slow down a bit so please slow down a bit. And it's just everybody, so. Thank you.

Members' statements. Member from Deh Cho.

Member’s Statement 139-20(1): K’atlodeeche First Nation 42nd Annual K’amba Carnival

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to highlight a funfilled event happening in my constituency this weekend, K'atlodeeche First Nation, and that is the 42nd Annual K'amba Carnival. Mr. Speaker, this carnival will be taking place over four days starting tomorrow, February 29th, to Sunday, March 3rd. There will be cultural events, both indoor and outdoor, such as dog sled races, traditional games, a hand games tournament, raffle ticket prizes, and a bingo. There will also be an adult talent show with people competing for best singing and best jigging, including seniors jigging which will also feature the great northern band North Country Rock. Additionally, Mr. Speaker, the K'amba Carnival will have a teen dance, a talent show, drum dances, and royalty competition which will crown the annual K'amba Princess, Prince, and Queen.

Mr. Speaker, I want to encourage all NWT residents and any visitors here in the territory to come have some fun and enjoy the festivities that will occur in K'atlodeeche First Nation this weekend. People of all ages are welcome to attend.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to give a huge thank you to all the event sponsors, organizers, volunteers who dedicated their time and efforts to help make this annual event possible. And as residents from across the way, I hope to see the Premier and Minister McKay at this carnival as well. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 140-20(1): Northwest Territories Capital Investment and Labour Force Statistics

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'm going to first bring my Member's statement today about one of my and begin by acknowledging one of my favorite sections in the GNWT. That's the NWT bureau of stats, my goodness. I don't know how I'd get along without them, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, one of the recent updates talked about the capital investments in the Northwest Territories and its decline by 11.2 percent. Now, that adds up to almost 900 $900 million to the North. But the bad news doesn't start stop there, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker. The NWT labour force activity has showed continual drops. In other words, our unemployment rates continue to increase. So, Mr. Speaker, what's happening in the 83 days since this Cabinet's taken office?

Now, I'm not saying they directly relate but one could say it's coincidental.

Mr. Speaker, the only person who only section in Canada that has a worse employment sector than us is the Yukon. So, Mr. Speaker, are people giving up, or are they just leaving? I don't know. But, Mr. Speaker, sometimes in our problems therein lies the solution. The Government of Canada has said publicly before, in the summer of 2023 has said, hey, we need military bases for these 88 new F35 planes they want to put around Canada. And the delivery starts in two years, Mr. Speaker. That's two years. It's very close. Not far away.

Mr. Speaker, the defence department wants to establish three bases, whether they're going to renew old ones or build or develop new ones. So they want to put one in eastern Canada, one in western Canada, and guess what? They're shopping around for the North saying hey, we'd like to put one somewhere up there. Mr. Speaker, this means new federal infrastructure dollars could hit the Northwest Territories if we did it right. New dollars are good for investment, good for people. It creates an economy. It helps stimulate the North and the activity. Again, going back to the minus $900 million going into our current economy. Mr. Speaker, we cannot miss out on this particular opportunity.

Now, I can tell you the airport plan for years in Yellowknife has reconsidered options about redeveloping and extending its runway. Is this the right opportunity for Yellowknife? Well, maybe. Maybe not. I would hope so. But that said, Inuvik is another prime location this airport could go to support the military and their development and their action in protecting Canadians, all Canadians throughout the North. Mr. Speaker, don't let this opportunity fly over us and miss Northerners a genuine opportunity to stimulate our economy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Yellowknife Centre. Members' statements. Member from Yellowknife South.

Member’s Statement 141-20(1): Pink Shirt Day

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I told my kids that I wanted to use Pink Shirt Day as an opportunity to say something at the Assembly about bullying, and I asked them what they thought I should say.

My 12yearold said, You need to catch bullying quickly. You can't let the situation repeat itself. It gets harder to stop the longer the behaviours continue. You cannot let it be normalized. You cannot let it be routine. Disrespect should never be routine. She is right. It gets easier to ignore when a behaviour becomes normal. And so days of recognition like Pink Shirt Day are good occasions for a checkin.

My 9yearold said, I know what Pink Shirt Day is to me and what I would say but it isn't really what I think you should be saying at the government. At first, I wanted to remind him that every voice and every experience matters. But I realized there's another side to what he was saying. Someone with the privilege of political leadership should use that opportunity to speak in a way that will help advance respect, dignity and equity. When leaders use bullying language or tone, it normalizes it, which brings me to the second half of what I wanted to say as the MLA for Yellowknife South on Pink Shirt Day.

Mr. Speaker, I have a constituent who lives in fear for her children because of the words being spoken by some political leadership in Canada about twospirit, transgender, and nonbinary youth, and their access to gender affirming care and for safe accepting spaces in schools where youth can access information free about their bodies and their sexual health. My constituent's family needs access to gender affirming care at time when there are political leaders in Canada speaking in a tone, manner, and content that is stereotyping, disrespectful, hurtful, and harmful.

One province's teachers association said this, quote: Transgender youth are five times more likely to think about suicide and nearly eight times more likely to attempt it than other children. We must be mindful of the vulnerability of these students and their need for safety, security and support.

Mr. Speaker, as a political representative for my constituents, including all 2SLGBTQIPA+ youth, adults and their families, I want them to know their political leaders will defend their right to access medical care and education with the same expectation and experience of dignity and respect as anyone else. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Yellowknife Centre. Members' statements.

Member’s Statement 142-20(1): Eulogy for Vincent James Bertrand

Ladies and gentlemen, with a deep heart I will be doing this eulogy. Vincent James Bertrand was born in Yellowknife on September 4th, 1985, to parents Norma Bertrand and Melvin Timbre. When Vince was younger, his dad would make him a toboggan out of cereal boxes and pop cans. Vince would play outside for hours pulling his toboggan with his toys inside of it.

Vincent grew up in Fort Liard and was raised by his grandparents Mary Jane and William Bertrand. His grandfather William gave Vince his traditional name of SehSeh. Vince loved spending his time with his grandparents and traveling with them to Fort Nelson. Vince and Vanessa were inseparable since Vanessa was born.

When Vanessa had her first firefighting training with the hamlet, she broke her foot. Vince did not believe Vanessa until he saw the foot. He drove her to the health centre. Six hours later, Vince showed up at the health centre with a broken foot. He broke his foot by almost falling off the riverbank. Vincent and Vanessa both got medevaced to Yellowknife. Later they both laughed at how they broke their foot on the same day.

Vince worked as a youth coordinator for the hamlet of Fort Liard, and this is where I got to meet him. He loved having movie night at the hall for the children. He volunteered as a firefighter for hamlet and was always available to keep the community safe especially during spring break up. Vince was always participating or volunteering when there was a community event. He made sure to help out whereever he could. Vince worked with his fatherinlaw Ken Bard making deliveries. He enjoyed playing softball with his best friend Arthur Loe and encouraged others to participate. Vincent enjoyed collecting movies, comics, video games, Pokemon cards, and animated cartoons.

Vince was proud of his culture and lived a traditional life. He enjoyed going to hand games, drum dances and drumming. He loved his drum his grandmother Mary Jane got made for him. Vince loved his family, friends, and was always there for them. I can tell you he was always happy and smiling. I don't think I have ever saw him upset.

Vince looked up to his uncle Floyd Bertrand and would phone him or text him whenever he needed advice.

Vince met and fell in love with Kirsten Bard in 2014. Vince lived in Fort Liard while Kirsten lived in Fort Nelson. They kept their relationship strong by always seeing each other and keeping in contact. Vince moved to Fort Nelson to live with Kirsten and proposed to her in 2020 of July, and Kirsten happily accepted.

I can tell you my experience with Vincent was very much how the family talked about him. I can tell you he was always willing to help take youth on sporting trips. Numerous times, I witnessed him using his own vehicle to ensure all youth got a chance to participate in the event. Like the old army saying never leave any man behind, his was always ensure youth get the opportunity to experience travel and participate in sport and recreational activities.

Colleagues, Vincent passed away on November 8, 2023. I can tell you he was loved and will be sadly missed by his fiancee Kirsten, his mother Norma, grandmother Mary Jane, sister Vanessa and Vickie Williams, and numerous friends and family. He will be sadly missed.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery