Transcript of meeting #1 for Midterm Review Committee in the 18th Assembly. (The original version is on the Legislative Assembly's site.) The winning word was work.

The winning word was work.

On the agenda

MLAs speaking

Mr. Nadli's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Sebert.

Mr. Nadli's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I think we’re all interested in settling land claims. We have seen the success in those areas that do have settled land claims, and more generous and comprehensive offers have been made recently. We’re hoping for a favourable response to those initiatives because, as I say, it is really to the benefit of everyone. I know that in the area of lands knowing what the regime will be in your region certainly would be a great help to landowners. As I say, those areas that have settled their land claims are moving ahead. Certainly this government is interested in the completion of the program, as it were, so that all land claims could be settled, and all residents, including industry, could have certainty moving ahead. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Nadli's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Abernethy.

Mr. Nadli's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I have had an opportunity to talk to Aboriginal leaders across the Northwest Territories, and this issue often comes up. One of the things that I have heard from a number of our partners and the individuals that we're negotiating with is that the reliance on the old Dene Metis claim as the foundation of negotiations does not necessarily make sense in this day and age. The Premier and the departments have worked hard with the federal government and those that we’re negotiating with to move away from the Dene Metis claim as sort of the foundation and looked at new ways of producing an agreement or finding ways forward. I think that was incredibly important, not relying on the way things were done in the past, but trying to do things differently. The Premier has worked with the federal government, brought in some individuals to do some work on how we can move forward together, united, in the best interests of all people in the Northwest Territories. It is a long process. It is a detailed process. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked, whether it is land quantum or what areas an individual government's going to take on as far as mandate. The work is under way. We all know it's not going as fast as we'd like it, but it is moving forward. Now that we have a new way of moving forward, I'm optimistic that we are going to see more progress in the future, and I'm excited by the opportunities that that presents. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Nadli's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Schumann.

Mr. Nadli's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Great question by the Member. As he's well aware, he and I have both been on both sides of the table. I think if you want to get right to the meat of this question, there's a lot of issues internally amongst Aboriginal groups. There has got to be consensus-building amongst themselves to bring some of these things forward, to have a position where they can stand together to bring issues forward as a group and deal with the federal and territorial government. Overlap issues is another big one as an impediment. I think a lot of people that don't realize it, don't follow it. Particularly, the South Slave region is probably the most contentious overlap issue area in all of Canada. There are so many groups that need to be dealt with, and thankful to the Premier and his great leadership, he's got the federal government at the table to bring new offers and new ideas on how we can settle these things. I think the biggest impediment is, as I've said in my opening statement, that, as Aboriginal peoples we have to get ourselves organized and have a united front on what our actual position is to be able to sit down and deal with the territorial and federal government. It's been frustrating, as I've said, as a negotiator when I was at the table, but I think a lot of things have changed under the leadership of the Premier now and the federal government with regards to how they are reaching out to try to settle this. It is something that is the number one priority of this government. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Nadli's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Cochrane.

Mr. Nadli's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. The issue of land claims is really important to all of us. As a Northerner whose family business was in mineral exploration, and still in mineral exploration, I've taken a keen interest in the needs of people in that field, and I recognize that it is the major economic driver within the Northwest Territories. It is impacting mineral exploration and new monies coming into the territories so it's a priority. As the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, I know that it's also a priority because municipalities are waiting for land claims to get finished so that they can deal with their land needs as well. It is important for all of us. I believe that some of the issues that are affecting it is that Aboriginal governments want to get it right. They have one chance at this, and so it is really important for them that they try to get things as they need, because they might not have another chance at it. I recognize that it's a difficult decision for their leadership and something that we have to support. I do want to give credit where credit belongs. Our Premier has cleared his docket. It is his number one priority. I am hoping that it will be his legacy when he leaves here, that he will have the Aboriginal governments settled, and I know that he is working hard towards that. Like I say, I need to give credit where credit is due, and our Premier, it is his number one priority, and he is working hard at finishing these. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Nadli's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Questions to Ministers. Next on my list is Member Nakimayak.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I didn't write anything, but I represent four coastal communities, and sovereignty in the Arctic, in my region is important as far as infrastructure. As well, they are all Indigenous people, mainly Inuit. My questions are for all of the Ministers, Mr. Chair. I've been lucky to have a couple of tours with the Ministers in my region, and I just want to say that tours like this are important. We need to ensure that we host Caucus and other meetings like that around the territory, mainly in the smaller communities where sometimes access to information is very limited and very much so, and sometimes very slow. My question to the Ministers is mainly: can you highlight achievements, as well as how you have refined the working relationships, with Indigenous leaders, not just with the Inuvialuit, but as with the Gwich'in and other Indigenous groups around the territory as well? I think it is important for the government to be involved and, like I said, refine that working relationship and have liaisons between the government and the Indigenous groups to show more of a presence on both sides. My question is: how are the Cabinet Ministers and their departments going to reach out and connect more closely with Indigenous governments? Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Cochrane.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I was actually honoured to be able to travel to some of the communities within the MLA's region, although I recognize I still need to get to Sachs Harbour. We got weathered in at the time. Each region, when I was travelling, I noticed has different needs and different beauties, actually. It really reinforced that the Northwest Territories is really beautiful. We need to appreciate what we have here. It is not all rock. What have we done, though, to support Aboriginal governments? The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs works hard with Aboriginal governments. We developed the online training and the training components in partnership with the federal government to provide support so Aboriginal governments can govern their people properly and as they need to. The Housing Corporation has also worked really closely with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to support not only our housing needs, but their housing aspirations. We work very diligently with Aboriginal governments. Like I had said when I first took on, accreditation is about working with people. It is about getting constant feedback, and it is important that Aboriginal governments have feedback into what we are doing to govern the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Schumann.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Chair. As a Member of the Executive Council, and having the opportunity, I've been to all 33 communities these last two years in the Northwest Territories. A number of my files allow me to interact directly with either Aboriginal governments at a land claim level, or at a local level, or a band level, and this interaction is very important as the population of the Northwest Territories is 50 per cent Indigenous. As many of the people watching on TV know, most of our communities are small and remote communities, and are led by Aboriginal people. There are various different degrees of leadership in these communities which is very important to understand when we're travelling around when we are dealing with issues. We've a good interaction with them. I think as Cabinet we have our bilaterals with the Aboriginal groups in the Northwest Territories on a grander scale and their issues, and we continue to do that. That is very informative on government-to-government relationships on how we build and try to prosper the Northwest Territories for our residents. But also, when you start digging down into some of my portfolios, you can even get right down to some programs like the CAP programming, the Community Access Program, where we deal with right down at the local level on how we can work with Aboriginal governments to help facilitate projects within the community, and bring awareness to job training, and economies and such. These are very important relationships to this government, and particularly when I'm at FPT tables and travelling around the country, I try to explain to people of Canada the importance of the relationship that this government has with Aboriginal people, and how we interact with them, and how we are leaders in this country in how we deal with Aboriginal people in the great country we live in. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Moses.