Debates of May 30, 2024 (day 19)

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


Colleagues, I'd like to thank Mary Jane Cazon for the guiding words here today. She's also a constituent of mine from the Nahendeh region. So I'd like to thank her very much.

Colleagues, before we get started I'd like to recognize a special guest in the House today, the former Member from the Sahtu who was the Minister I'll get this right Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs and Minister responsible for housing, Minister responsible responsible for Public Utilities Board, and the Minister responsible for Worker's Safety and Compensation Commission. There we go. Welcome, Pauline Chinna.

Ministers’ Statements

Minister’s Statement 39-20(1): Indigenous Recruitment and Retention Framework and Indigenous Employment

Mr. Speaker, increasing Indigenous representation in the public service has long been a goal of the Legislative Assembly. Indigenous underrepresentation within the public service is a complex and multidimensional issue and requires a variety of actions to address, from changes to policy and programming, to increasing resources and training opportunities. Historically, Mr. Speaker, the efforts to achieve this goal were championed by Human Resources. We now know we need a more collaborative approach that provides departments with the flexibility they need so they can address barriers that may be unique to them. We know, for example, that recruiting barriers for the Department of Education, Culture and Employment differ from those faced by the Department of Environment and Climate Change. We cannot, and should not, use a onesizefitsall approach.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT Indigenous Recruitment and Retention Framework and Action Plan directs all departments and agencies to develop departmental Indigenous employment plans to increase, develop and maintain the number of Indigenous persons they employ. These plans include short, medium, and longterm targets. Later today, I will table a report on the results of departmental Indigenous employment plans for the 20222023 fiscal year. This report outlines each department and agency's efforts to meet their targets and their unique approaches to address the challenges and opportunities related to Indigenous recruitment and retention.

During this reporting period, a job description review guide was launched to help departments set appropriate positional education and experience requirements and include Indigenous cultural and social factors into job descriptions. There was also a review of job descriptions by every department, with GNWTwide reviews exceeding 20222023 targets. We launched mandatory training for managers on the staffing process and recruitment programs, as well as adding training on mitigating and unconscious bias. Indigenousfocused mental health support programming called A New Dawn, a New Light was also made available, with supports offered through appbased programs rooted in diverse Indigenous cultural and healing practices. We also released a GNWTwide succession planning guide that aligns with the goal of increasing Indigenous representation in the territorial public service.

Mr. Speaker, over the last year, the framework has positively impacted the use of related GNWT programs. For example, both the Indigenous Career Gateway Program and the Building Capacity with Indigenous Governments Program have been fully utilized.

Departmental Indigenous employment plans support continual improvement of our recruitment and retention practices. As we move forward and achieve new levels of Indigenous leadership and representation at all levels of government, they will provide the GNWT with opportunities to celebrate our successes in the years ahead. As we reflect on the successes of the first year of Indigenous employment plans, I want to close by thanking each department and agency for their attention and efforts related to Indigenous recruitment and retention. In many cases, GNWT departments have either met or exceeded the targets they have set to date. All departmental Indigenous employment plans are publicly available on the Department of Finance's website, and I encourage everyone to review the progress to date and upcoming actions that our departments will achieve. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Minister’s Statement 40-20(1): Opening of Liwegoati Building

Mr. Speaker, the 20th Legislative Assembly has made access to health care one of the top priorities. I am happy to share that as of today, May 30th, the Liwegoati Building is open to the public. Quality health and social services for patients and clients from this building supports the new campus of care model through the colocation of services. This includes integrated teams for primary care, outpatient rehabilitation services, extended care, and longterm care.

The important work of primary care reform is advancing in this new facility with improvements to integrated care teams that will lead to more equitable access to services for residents. This work, guided by our core principle of cultural safety, is foundational and will help to inform changes throughout the system to build the best care and service for a better future for residents.

Mr. Speaker, to minimize any disruption to service, programs are being relocated to the Liwegoati Building in a phased approach. Operational readiness activities have been underway for months, coordinating the moves of primary care and outpatient rehabilitation services into the building's first floor, which is now operational. For now, appointments for sameday services, the diabetes clinic, and tobacco cessation will remain at the primary care clinic in downtown Yellowknife.

The next phase of the move will see the extended care unit, currently located in Stanton Territorial Hospital, relocate into the building. It is expected that this will take place over the course of the summer. Ten of the 16 extended care beds will be occupied to start, with the extra capacity on reserve for those who need these services.

The final phase, opening longterm care beds, will take place later this year. Seventeen beds will be open during this phase and will involve working through the territorial admissions committee waiting list. We will add additional beds as needed, based on regular assessments of residents' needs, current capacity, and available staffing and funding levels.

Mr. Speaker, overhauling the delivery of service to better serve the people of the Northwest Territories is a massive undertaking, and this work is not complete. We have made significant progress, especially considering the challenges related to the pandemic and recent wildfire evacuations. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank everyone involved in this work since this project began. From the earliest planning and design stages, to the construction and retrofitting of the old Stanton Hospital building, to the staff working so hard to establish services in the Liwegoati Building.

I would also like to thank the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, Liwegoati Project Management Office. They have been working with the Yellowknife region to ensure continuity of service while coordinating the move of primary care and outpatient rehab services from their current locations.

I know a great deal of work has gone into this, and I am sure the teams are eager to get to know their new workspaces and see patients and clients. I would also like to thank the NWT residents in advance for your patience and understanding as we complete this move and refine our processes over the next few months. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Members’ Statements

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in the previous sitting of this Assembly, I spoke to the problem of lack of clarity in the NWT waters regulations and the issues this problem is causing in our regulatory system. I spoke to arguments which had been made during a review of this issue which noted that amendments to the regs could help to alleviate some longstanding issues with relation to predictability, expediency, and fairness in the system.

On February 28th, I questioned the Minister on this, and he suggested these issues could be solved through interpretation of the regulations as opposed to targeted amendments. Since that exchange occurred, the land and water boards of the Mackenzie Valley issued a reference bulletin which seeks to better interpret the regs but because the regs do not clearly spell out intent and meaning, even a detailed and highly informed interpretation does not bring much clarity. As argued by the Tlicho government in their response to the board's reviews, the review process on the regs, the ultimate solution is targeted amendments to the regs to resolve this problem.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the boards wrote the Ministers responsible for the MVRMA and Waters Act recommending parties come together to make targeted amendments to the waters regulations to resolve these longstanding problems. The boards argued that the regulations are outdated and a source of uncertainty in the regulatory process, noting that there have been no substantive updates made since they were originally enacted in 1993 despite significant changes in the NWT's operating environment since that time. They further argued that focused amendments to the regulations should be prioritized over updates to the Waters Act recognizing that changing the regs will not only be easier and faster but that the regs are currently causing the greatest number of challenges in the board's processes.

Finally, the boards emphasized that there is support for many proponents and some comanagement partners for making these changes.

Mr. Speaker, I think this is a great opportunity for the department to take a collaborative approach to their role in the comanagement system and come to the table to discuss changes that the boards and many stakeholders in this system have been advocating for. To that end, I'll have questions for the Minister of ECC later today. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 213-20(1): World No-Tobacco Day

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is World No-Tobacco Day. And this year, it will be special for me it's been 11 weeks since my last cigarette. It's not the first time I've quit but hopefully it'll be the last.

Mr. Speaker, nicotine is more addictive than alcohol, heroin, or cocaine. So days like World No-Tobacco Day are truly important to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking tobacco.

Created by the World Health Organization in 1987, the yearly celebration informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what the WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generationsf.

This year's theme is Youth Step In and Speak Out, and young people are being given a platform to urge governments, like ours, to shield them from predatory tobacco marketing tactics. Children use Ecigarettes and vapes at a higher rate than adults with an estimated 37 million youths aged 13 to 15 using tobacco. The industry is well aware of this and knows that if it can get kids hooked, they will continue to smoke for life.

British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International are exploiting social media to market these addictive products to young people. Three products between these two companies, Vuse Ecigarettes, VELO nicotine pouches, and Iqos heated tobacco, have been viewed more than 3.4 billion times on social media. Marketing for just these three brands has reached more than 385 million people, and approximately 40 percent of this audience are children under the age of 25. Even so, most youth and adult smokers want to quit, and more than half have attempted to in the past year. But fewer than one in ten smokers actually succeed. This isn't a matter of willpower; this is a matter of providing the proper supports and encouragement in the health system and communities to ensure they succeed.

Mr. Speaker, I know that the Minister cares about this. I know that our government cares about this. Our Members care about this. We have terrible rates of addiction to cigarettes. I can attest to that. And I hope that my colleagues here will join me in raising awareness for No Tobacco Day tomorrow and wish me luck in kicking smoking once and for all. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 214-20(1): Gwich’in Wellness Camp

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, all my colleagues are aware of the impact of a range of mental health and substance abuse challenges occurring in our NWT communities. The affects that toxic drugs are having as well as addressing the affects of trauma on our residents are well known.

Mr. Speaker, I want to share a good news story from my home community on an Indigenous government led initiative to provide support for people.

Mr. Speaker, I'm speaking of the Gwich'in Wellness Camp. For years, the camp was operated to provide ontheland programming. Well over a decade ago, the operating costs of the camp were overwhelming, and the camp was shut down. The Gwich'in Tribal Council, under the leadership of grand chief at the time Bobby Joe Greenland, decided to revive the camp with the idea of, again, hosting an ontheland program. Federal funding was received to renovate the camp and increased the amount of cultural spaces. The federal funding provided help to GTC renovate the interior/exterior of the camp, build five yurts, create walkways, and purchase equipment such as snowmobiles, quads, sidebysides, and landing craft for passengers. As well, Mr. Speaker, a Kingfisher boat and a shure for emergency use.

Mr. Speaker, the funding also helped create a solar farm to help with the high cost of the diesel and lower the overall carbon footprint. All of these renovations, cultural spaces, and equipment will be so vital when the ontheland program is occurring at the camp.

Mr. Speaker, operations officially began in August 2023 with a rental to an American television provider to film the show called Survival. The show will be airing on the History Channel starting in mid June and showcasing our beautiful back yard. Sorry, Mr. Speaker, but I can't provide any spoilers right now for the show.

The rental property provided an opportunity to continue to monitor, upgrade, and repair equipment. It's also provided an opportunity to identify the cost of operations such as fuel usage, food, and operational staff. Now that the camp is operational, the Gwich'in have began using it to provide skills training to their Gwich'in participants and other residents. So far, people have been training with snowmobile operations, ice safety, firearms, spill response, chainsaw operations, and so forth, Mr. Speaker.

Over the past year, under the leadership of grand chief Ken Kyikavichik, the Gwich'in Tribal Council has been planning to begin holding health and wellness programming at the camp. The vision of this programming is to provide an intergenerational place for comprehensive wellness programming that can address needs of Gwich'in participants and NWT residents living with mental health or substance use challenges, trauma, and disconnection. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you, colleagues. This means, Mr. Speaker, that the camp will provide not only much needed aftercare treatment but also provide support and counselling for a range of mental health challenges and doing all that is right here in the Northwest Territories.

My colleagues from the Standing Committee on Social Development had an opportunity to tour the camp in early April, and I'm sure they will also tell you the potential for this initiative project being undertaken by the Gwich'in Tribal Council.

Mr. Speaker, the federal government was key in this revival of this wellness camp and soon will be offering critical additions and mental support. Mr. Speaker, I have a history of the camp here as well. I would like to request that I have it deemed as well, and I'll submit it for Hansard. Thank you.


• The Gwich'in Wellness Camp has been traditionally referred to as Rachel Reinder Camp.

• Rachel (nee Koe) Reindeer was born in September of 1920 in the Fort McPherson area to Andrew and Talitha Koe.

• Rachel married at a young age to Johnny Reindeer. Johnny was a woodcutter who came up on the Steamboat and fell madly in love with Rachel. They settled in Fort McPherson and adopted three children: Louise, Wayne and Esther.

• In 1968 they moved to Inuvik. Rachel and Johnny decided to build a camp and found and liked an area on the East Branch it was a good area for fishing, the hill above has many good berry patches and the willows below were good for setting rabbit snares and was only a oneday boat ride to lnuvik; Johnny had a fulltime job and could only visit his family on his days off.

• Lucy Moore and Florence Carpenter and their children spent many summers with Rachel and her family. There were many visitors to Rachel's camp; when they stop by Rachel would share dry fish and berries and would give some to take home.

• Rachel shared her knowledge and taught people to work with fish and properly dry it. Rachel only spoke Gwich'in to everyone so they could keep the language today.

• "Jijuu” was a very loving, kindhearted person who was always laughing and loved the children around her. Rachel told all her stories in the Gwich'in language."

Rachel died in September 1973. (Her burial was September 10th in church records, no mention of the date of her death}.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Boot Lake. Members' statements. Member from Great Slave.

Member’s Statement 215-20(1): Yellowknife Pride Celebrations

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Happy Pride Season. Today is Inuvik Pride parade and barbeque, as well as an epic performance from the iconic Iceis Rain. This Sunday, Yellowknife has its very own Pride parade and barbeque, and I have extended the invitation to all MLAs to join me in sharing in the celebration.

Mr. Speaker, Pride started as a protest, and those roots run deep. Learning Queer history is also how we learn how much further we have to go. Here in Yellowknife, we have had celebrations on and off since the late 1990s through different Pride organizations.

Mr. Speaker, 2023 was the first full scale parade here in Yellowknife, and it's not lost on me how powerful that parade was for many, many folks. The Yellowknife of just 30 years ago was not nowhere as near as welcoming of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community as we are today. It's also important that the GNWT continues to make strides to ensure folks of all genders are included in all programs and services that we offer to our residents, and preliminary conversations with this Cabinet have me very excited, indeed, around how we continually do better as a government. I would like to encourage all Members to take as part in as many Pride events as they can throughout this summer in their own communities and here in the capital. I'd also encourage all allies throughout Yellowknife to sign up to volunteer with Pride events as we want all members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community to participate in celebrations instead of running them wherever possible. Please check out the Northern Mosaic Network's social media to see the full schedule of events for the 2024 Summer of Pride, culminating in the always popular Pride weekend at the Folk on the Rocks site this August 9th to 11th.

Mr. Speaker, Pride is important because somebody out there still believes they're better off dead than being gay. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Great Slave. Members' statements. Member from the Sahtu.

Member’s Statement 216-20(1): Public Lands Act Regulations

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Public Lands Act Regulations. Today, Mr. Speaker, I want to speak about the status on implementation of Public Lands Act.

Mr. Speaker, the work on the development of the Public Lands Act began in 2017 during the 18th Assembly by the former Department of Lands. The Act was later introduced and eventually passed at the end of the 18th Assembly in August of 2019. Based on this, a person would probably think the Public Lands Act has been in force for about five years now; however, Mr. Speaker, this is not the case.

According to the text of the Act, Mr. Speaker, this Act, or any section of this Act, comes into force on a day or days to be fixed by order of the Commissioner. That is vague language, Mr. Speaker, which doesn't provide clarity for when the Act will come into force at all. Based on this, it seems that the decision for when the Land Act will come into force will be when Cabinet wants it to. And eventually, based on questions Members asked in the previous Assembly, the Act would only come into force when regulations are developed.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the Public Lands Act was to amalgamate former NWT Lands Act and the Commissioner's Land Act in order to create a newer, more efficient model of administering land in the NWT. This new process would minimize land access confusion and establish a onestop shop to land clients. The Act, and its accompanying regulations, would bring greater certainty and comfort to industry, particularly the mining community, and to the public, general public, and Indigenous governments. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, public lands engagement on the development of the Public Land Act regulations have been ongoing for five years now. Why is the process taking so long? What is holding it up? Now, it's now been two Assemblies since the Act was passed, and there are no regulations in sight. I understand that the government is trying to do their due diligence and engage with the Intergovernmental Council and to take this long to introduce these regulations.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Member from the Sahtu, your time is up. Members' statements. Member from Mackenzie Delta.

Member’s Statement 217-20(1): Dempster Highway

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, before my Member's statement, I just would like to wish my granddaughter Shannon Feliah a Happy Birthday for today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Dempster Highway is a twolane gravelsurfaced allweather road that follows our route traditional used by the Indigenous people for thousands of years. It passes through the territories of the Han, Gwich'in, and Inuvialuit people starting near Dawson and finishes in Inuvik. Construction of the highway began in 1959 as part of the Road to Resources Program and was completed 20 years later, with some delays, at a cost of $132 million.

Mr. Speaker, the Dempster Highway passes through some of the most spectacular scenery one will ever see. This is one reason the Beaufort Delta region attracts visitors from all over the world. The highway passes through the migration route of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, the spectacular Richardson Mountains, and your travels will soon take you to the Arctic Circle. This is the only road in Canada which crosses the Arctic Circle. Whenever you are visiting a Beaufort Delta region, you will be welcomed by some of the most hospitable people of the North.

Mr. Speaker, although the boom of the oil and gas industry is not as vibrant as it used to be in the past, the Road to Resources still serves as a vital link for the delivery of goods and services for the people of the Beaufort Delta region.

I have painted a rosy picture that the Dempster Highway winds through. The highway still requires the government to keep up with maintenance for the safety of all users. It is important that daily inspections be conducted and repaired whenever needed. Mr. Speaker, I have experienced the deterioration of the road mainly due to climate change, and we must learn to adapt to these changes to keep our road safe for our local people and visitors from all over the world so that they can continue to visit the spectacular Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will have questions for the Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Mackenzie Delta. Members' statements. Member from Tu NedheWiilideh.

Member’s Statement 218-20(1): Access to Quality Education in Lutselk’e

Mr. Speaker, access to quality education is a treaty right for Dene people across the Northwest Territories, and all treaty rights must be consistently upheld. That means providing trained professional educators and well-resourced schools in every community. Unfortunately, however, in my community of Lutselk'e, this treaty right is at risk because in March of this year, the high school teacher submitted a letter of resignation and left shortly thereafter, and the school has yet to find someone to replace them. This abrupt resignation severely impacted the school year for high school students in Lutselk'e and substitute teachers were needed to fill the gap, and this took time as they had to relocate and properly prepared to take up the task of finishing the school year. Substitute teachers provide an excellent service that I'm not in no way criticizing and I don't want to fault the outgoing high school teacher for their decision either, but the fact remains that the community still needs a dedicated high school teacher for the long term, and that responsibility falls on the territorial government.

I have heard from my constituents in Lutselk'e, who are now greatly concerned about their children's education and has some seeking to move to their students to Yellowknife to pursue their high school education here. I don't want to see families driven out of their communities so their children can have access to education. The GNWT needs to find a solution soon and get the dedicated high school into Lutselk'e before the next school year this fall, or else the youth of Lutselk'e will suffer. I am calling upon the Department of ECE to rectify this situation and uphold the treaty rights to education and will have questions for the Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 219-20(1): Constituent’s Medical Travel Issues

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to discuss a constituent issue that was brought to my attention pertaining to medical travel.

Mr. Speaker, one of my constituents had recently gone to Edmonton on a weekend vacation and while he was away, he ended up getting hurt and had to go to the hospital because of his injuries. After this happened, the constituent contacted medical travel to inform them of his situation to seek support in returning home. However, medical travel has decided they will not provide him with any support to help him with his return travels to the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, the individual in question here is an Indigenous lifelong Northerner who was born and raised in Fort Providence. He's paid his taxes in the NWT all his life and has been working at one of the mines for many years. This constituent feels abandoned, ignored, and totally unsupported by this government during his time of need, which is not right. Something must be done by our government to help improve his situation and give him the proper supports that he needs. Moreover, Mr. Speaker, this constituent's injury is significant enough that his family has also had to travel to Edmonton to be with him while he is hospitalized in the city. This situation is costing this constituent and his family a lot of unforeseen outofpocket expenses that are only increasing with each passing day which, as a result, is creating a lot of unnecessary added stress that he should not have to deal with. This stress is causing his health to take a turn for the worse, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 220-20(1): Good Governance and Leadership

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak about good governance and leadership that I believe we, as MLAs, and we, as the government, should demonstrate. This is my thought on some of the things when I first came on, okay.

Mr. Speaker, when I first became an MLA, I thought the way that I was supposed to act was like a boxer getting into a ring for a big fight when I go into session. That's what I thought, okay. I thought I had to always try to get one over the Cabinet or a Minister. I thought that I had to be strong all the time with everything and with everyone I deal with in this place. However, Mr. Speaker, being like that all the time, quite frankly, is exhausting. I'm sure it can be exhausting for members of the public to hear that all the time too. It's not always effective either. Sometimes there is a peaceful way, and this is what the consensus government is.

Consensus government is built on Indigenous leadership. Sometimes people forget this is a consensus government, not a party politics.

Mr. Speaker, I have discovered over time that there are better, more effective ways to be serving my constituents in serving the people of the NWT and in getting things done. I often think what would our elders, our parents, parent' parents, or our late parents or grandparents would say to us. How would they tell us how to act and how to interact with our colleagues in this House?

I also think about the Dene laws and the importance those teachings are. Things like help each other, be respectful of elders and things around you, be polite, and pass on the teaching. This is how our elders resolve problems, make decisions, and lead our people with kindness and respect for one another.

Mr. Speaker, those are important teachings that we teach our children, and so I believe that it's equally important that we as adults, we as leaders, also demonstrate those teachings and set a good example for the next generations. Mr. Speaker, I know that in this building, there will always be spirited debate. People are passionate about issues. They want to get result for their constituents.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Member from Monfwi, your time is up.

Mr. Speaker, can I have unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Okay, there are some of us MLAs that have four to six communities we represent, just like you, Nahendeh. We all came here wanting to make change. I hope that we as AN Assembly can move forward together in a positive way. We don't always need to be at each other's throat or tear each other down or arguing just for the sake of arguing. Both sides of the House must come together in a good way and work as a team for the people we were elected to represent. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 221-20(1): 19th Annual NorthWords NWT Writers Festival

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I've been speaking a lot about our huge challenges with literacy in the NWT. Today I want to celebrate a wonderful and inspiring initiative, the 19th Annual NorthWords NWT Writers' Festival. It's happening from today until Sunday, June 2nd. It is a literary extravaganza that brings together the magic of words, the power of storytelling, and the warmth of community.

For the next four days, Yellowknife and Hay River will be abuzz with creativity, inspiration, and literary camaraderie as the festival boasts a diverse lineup of readings, panel discussions, and writing workshops. Yellowknife North seems to be blessed with a lot of literary folks as some of the authors being showcased this weekend are from my riding, and they include Amber Henry, Alison McCreash, Stephen Kakfwi, and Marie Wilson.

Amber will be reading some of her children's books as well as hosting some of the events. Alison will be sharing her talents by doing a live illustration event where she will put your ideas on to the page. Marie and Stephen will be down together in Hay River this evening doing readings from their books and having discussions with the public at the Hay River Centennial Library. Marie will also be launching her first book, North of Nowhere, Song of a Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner, on this Sunday at Yellowknife Books. This book is her personal reflection of the testimony that she heard from across the country providing her unique perspective on the value of the Commission honouring the voices of the survivors.

I wish all the authors well this weekend, and I hope many of you find the time to make it out to the festival. Many of the events are free to attend, like this evening's opening event in Yellowknife, which also takes place in my riding at Sundog Trading Post. It's called Gather, A Spoken Word Open Mike Night, starting at 6:30 p.m.

And, Mr. Speaker, in keeping with the power of words and storytelling, later today we'll have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services on the importance of access to speech therapy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 222-20(1): Supporting Client Wellness

I started to get worried you forgot about me, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there was a time not so long ago when you mentioned wellness workers. Most people around us would have said wellness what? Wellness is an act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to obtain better physical and mental outcomes. So instead of just surviving, we are thriving. Mr. Speaker, fastforward to today. Wellness, or even wellbeing, really matters. Times have changed. When we look back, the government has made decisions in the past that may have seen or been perceived as efficient but the quality didn't realize wasn't realized until much later that we've done more harm to the system than good.

Take, for example, when I look back and I think of social workers that were part of an integral element of income support and at the time they were viewed as data entry jobs and they didn't need to talk to their clients, they just took paper. I also question, not as a fault but as a realization, that when have our LHOs, we have clients seeing them day to day wondering about their lives. No, no, Mr. Speaker, they're there just to take their paper and move them along.

But, Mr. Speaker, both examples are more than just people working as clerks taking data. They are really an important part, a first contact in many cases, the only contact in a lot of cases, that people have with these real live clients of ours. It's difficult to imagine that people don't need to talk to people. Imagine that, people talking to people? So when I hear clients tell me in both programs that they feel sometimes they're just a number, well as a matter of fact, that's exactly what they are in the way we've set them up. But they're more than that, Mr. Speaker. These are genuine people with real families and real challenges.

These individuals have all had journeys some of them will never fully appreciate, some of them are real tough, real stories, but their journeys with real stories worth being told. Trauma and supports come in different ways and how we support them and recognize them has changed so much more. This government, this Assembly, our MLAs, respect these things and realize how much more time and investment we need to do.

Mr. Speaker, I want to leave my colleagues with this thought as I finish my statement: The government program may be a backstop as some people fall down onto troubles, but we're also here to help them up. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Yellowknife Centre. I would never forget you. Members' statements.

Member’s Statement 223-20(1): Celebration of Life for Lisa Kraus

Colleagues, today I am here to speak about Lisa Mary Rose Kraus. She was born on August 6, 1986, to Michael, commonly known as Mickey, Kraus Sr. and Bella, commonly known as Stella, Tsetso. On April 26, 2024, she passed away surrounded by family.

I can tell you she had an amazing service. Betty Bird did her celebration of life and did a great job. I asked her if I can share it with you here today. As Betty was scrolling through Facebook, thinking about what she wanted to say and where to start. She came across this quote: We don't meet people by accident, they are meant to cross our path for a reason. Just like Lisa who was put in each of our path, every person present here today are thinking about her and the impact she had on our life.

As Betty was scrolling Facebook checking out Lisa's page, she came upon her time in Yellowknife where she had lots of time to post. It was interesting to see what was important to her. I can tell you, Lisa loved her family and friends. Almost daily, she would put a post on her page telling her family and friends to have a blessed day and that she loved them. She was loyal to those she loved, and it showed in her many posts. She was also fierce in that love, and she had no problem calling out those that hurt her family and friends. Lisa also had a wicked sense of humour and could be quit entertaining around those that knew her best. She had a quick wit and quick comebacks. Lisa loved to make requests to the Saturday and the Sunday Bannock and Tea Request Show. The weekend after her passed, the host mentioned that one of her faithful listeners from the Deh Cho had got her angel wings and dedicated a song to her.

So many of Lisa's post were of quotes and memes that talked about her faith in God and the power of prayer. She shared many posts that talked about finding the strength to overcome hardship and struggles. Personally, I can tell you I have seen her drive and passion for her and her family. There is more to her celebration of life and in saying this, I would like to the rest of this celebration of life be deemed as read.

Colleagues, she will be sadly missed by her family, friends, and the community of Fort Simpson.

I can tell you that Lisa loved bingo and I am not sure she missed many chances to play. One of my favorite posts she made was, anyone wants to help this little brown Indian play bingo please. I know she got more than a few bingo cards from me with this post.

The Kraus family are a closeknit family and loyal to each other. No matter what differences they have had and struggles, when push comes to shove, they are there for each other. I admire that unwavering love they have for each other. Family is family no matter what. Hold onto that to help you deal with the loss of your grandmother, mother, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, and friend.

Lisa wanted so much to beat her addiction and get better. There were pages and pages of quotes looking for strength, forgiveness, courage, prayers and learning to love herself. Lisa was more than her addiction and would have given anything to heal. Please remember Lisa and what was in Lisa's heart.

To her children and grandchild, Hayden, meeka, Thomas Jr., Eva, and Etoah, your mother is more present now and in place to be there for you every moment of every day. She will be your shoulder when no one else is around. She is your comfort when you need it the most. And she is there to listen to all the secret thoughts like never before. When you are feeling lost and alone in the middle of the night, she is there to comfort you. For whatever reason, which is beyond our sorrow and pain, Lisa is now in the spirit world and will be there for you and will live in your heart and memories forever.

I wish you well on your journey, Lisa, and I am honoured and humbled to have had you in my life. Fly high and free, my girl. Will love you forever.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to recognize my former colleague and current friend, former Minister Pauline Chinna. She always created a lively atmosphere in Cabinet, and we miss her. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Hay River North. Members' statements. Member from Nunakput.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize two pages from the Nunakput riding. Natalie Joss and Kianna Bernhardt who are both students at the Helen Kalvak Illihapaq in Ulukhaktok. Quyananni, and welcome to Natalie and Kianna for being here today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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