This is page numbers 689 - 717 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 5th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was community.

Topics

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 703

Henry Zoe North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I realize what the Minister is saying but, in the interim, what could the community do to try to achieve their goals and objectives they set for themselves, particularly for law enforcement in their community? They are running into some problems, for instance, law enforcement was high on the agenda for the community of Rae-Edzo. It appears that this law enforcement component was a high priority for the community and they are pursuing this. I understand there is a letter coming to me with regard to this. I know what the department is doing but, in the interim, I don't think the community can do too much, even though they want to. Is there any other way the department could assist the community perhaps in conjunction with Municipal and Community Affairs or any other department that deals with law enforcement? Thank you.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair John Ningark

Thank you. Mr. Minister.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In the area of policing, we already have -- I think Edzo is one of them -- by-law officers who are capable of carrying out certain areas of policing. By and large, it is still the RCMP who have overall responsibility for the Criminal Code. Any discussions about policing would be quite extensive and complicated. Again, there are discussions with the federal government to try to find some way to get the federal government and ourselves to support an approach that would see communities taking over more responsibility for policing, but the process would take some time. I am not certain how the community may want to approach it, except to say that if the Member's community is interested in having meetings about this so that, at least at a political level, we can make agreements to have some discussions on the issue with a commitment to try to address it in some substantive way, I would be very happy to do that.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair John Ningark

Thank you. The honourable Member for North Slave.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Henry Zoe North Slave

Mr. Chairman, that is the reason I raised the question of information. Once the initiatives being undertaken

by the department are conveyed at the community level, there will be a lot of interest expressed. One is the law enforcement component of it as well as community justice. I would certainly encourage the Minister and his department to start giving the community the details of these initiatives and start the dialogue with the community. It will take time, as the Minister indicated, if anything is going to come out of it. Just from my brief discussions with the senior administrative officer, those were the two areas they were interested in. I suggested that maybe he should contact the community justice specialist because that is the person who is supposed to be providing the information to the various groups in the community. I indicated to the SAO that the hamlet council members would be extremely interested, once they hear all the details. I didn't have the details when I talked to him. I suggested to the SAO that it could be a joint venture between the band and the hamlet if they wanted a briefing from this specialist so they don't have to waste time. I know it will spark interest from the community and that is why I suggested that to them yesterday.

I hope that with this type of dialogue, the community can start trying to develop something for themselves. Currently, that is not happening in my riding. I haven't heard that the community justice specialist has been giving the three outlying communities in my riding any information pertaining to the initiatives of the department. My concern is that the information is not flowing to the appropriate people at the community level. Thank you.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair John Ningark

Thank you, Mr. Zoe. Minister Kakfwi.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you. There is a lot of information that communities are subjected to. I go on the assumption that the community justice specialists that we have are doing their work. Perhaps there is some explanation for this. We will make a commitment to make sure that people are informed and there are appropriate meetings that take place. It is my hope that some of the communities will make policing a high priority. Throughout the north we have extensive work being done on claims negotiations and implementation. Many organizations and leaders are finding that they have to realign their priorities. It is my view that there would still be communities that would make this work a priority. If Rae-Edzo is one of them, then I would be more than happy to try to work with them. Thank you.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair John Ningark

Thank you, Mr. Minister. General comments. Next on my list, I have Mr. Pudlat.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kenoayoak Pudlat Baffin South

(Translation) I will be speaking in my own language, Mr. Chairman, thank you.

---Laughter

Yesterday during question period, I asked about firearms issues and the pending mandatory course. I want to talk a little about that again because I seemed to understand yesterday that the instructions for mandatory courses will not be made up in the aboriginal languages. That was the understanding I had yesterday, Mr. Chairman.

There are many official aboriginal languages and there is also the Federal Official Languages Act. In the territories, we have eight official aboriginal languages, and I wanted to talk a little bit more about that. I want to remind the Minister about our Official Languages Act. I understand he will be meeting fairly soon again with the Minister to talk about this issue. I have a concern that the teaching materials will not be provided in the aboriginal languages and this could pose an enormous problem, especially in light of the fact that the majority of the people up here are unilingual.

Whenever they propose national laws, it should be remembered that funding should also be considered to ensure that enforcement of these laws is being provided in languages that are understood up here. This firearms legislation will surely pose a problem. This is not going to be a simple task, as we are all aware, especially if they start implementing the training courses. Firearms safety has been an issue for a long time but this is something I'm very concerned about. People will continue to hunt and people will continue to be concerned about safety with rifles.

I don't believe there is going to be funding set aside to provide these courses in the aboriginal languages, even if it is a national law and it is mandatory. I don't think the course is going to be translated into Inuktitut. This is more a comment than a question. As I understand it, the Minister will be having meetings again concerning this issue in the near future. I hope he will reiterate this problem and the difficulties that are encountered, not just in enforcing this new law, but also whenever they make new mandatory legislation it must be remembered that official languages are important to us up here. I wanted the Minister to know about my concerns regarding the training courses, which possibly might not be provided in the aboriginal languages.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 704

The Chair John Ningark

Thank you. That was more or less a point the honourable Member wished to make. Of course, if the honourable Minister wants to respond, it is his discretion.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you. The comments that Members like Mr. Pudlat are making will be shared with the federal Minister next week. We'll be taking clips from the Hansard to demonstrate to him the extent to which this particular issue is causing concern. There is absolutely no doubt that the hunters and trappers, for instance in my constituency, who are unilingual are being discriminated against. Because they are unilingual, they will not be able to acquire a firearms acquisition certificate. They don't qualify to take this course at this time. There is no initiative right now to translate this course into Inuktitut or any other aboriginal language, or to train any instructors to teach this course in an aboriginal language.

The very people who need firearms the most, in many cases are the ones who are being discriminated against the most, inadvertently as a result of the nature of the course. This will be shared with the federal Minister next week. We should point out as well, I think, that all Members know about the many things that northern hunters and trappers have to contend with in harvesting and in making use of their firearms. The land we have to travel on is often very hazardous and often equipment is lost on ice floes or by breaking through ice, by boats overturning and often things like ski-doos, outboard motors, camping equipment and hunting gear, including entire sets of rifles, are lost.

In cases like this, people who depend on rifles on a daily basis will not be able to acquire firearms and would have to find some other way to get access to firearms, which brings up the whole issue of illegal trade and sale of firearms. They can borrow, but that is difficult for people to do since people usually have their own equipment and it is not a common practice any more than borrowing each other's socks.

---Laughter

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair John Ningark

Qujannamiik. I have Mr. Lewis and Mr. Arvaluk. Mr. Lewis.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was very pleased, Mr. Chairman, to hear from Mr. Kakfwi last night when he indicated that there certainly has to be an emphasis on the needs of young people. I don't need to go into all the reasons for that because they have been very well stated. It is largely to do with the speed of change and the speed with which things are happening around us that put young people at tremendous risk. All of us have had the pleasure of raising children and it is becoming more and more difficult every day. You can see the tremendous risks that young people are facing in a rapidly-changing society.

We only have to consider this city, which I remember as being a very quiet place where nothing much ever happened. Suddenly, it has become a city and, although it's not very big -- there are only about 16,000 people -- it has the same range of problems that you would find in Winnipeg, for example, which has over half a million people. There is every conceivable crime reported in the press in this city. The idea of people going around with guns and holding up convenience stores was unheard of. Even when I came to Yellowknife and it wasn't that long ago, in 1974, from the east, you never bothered to lock your doors. You just didn't worry about such things. You had safe neighbourhoods and all of that has changed. I am afraid that it has put tremendous pressure on the problems of law enforcement and making sure that the justice system works in a proper fashion.

I know that over the years we have had delegations of young people who complain that it is very difficult to lead the kind of life that their parents would like to see them lead in a place like Yellowknife simply because of the things they see going on around them. They have very few alternatives unless they are inventive enough to come up with some ideas of their own as to how they could be spending their time. As a result, people spend their time in arcades or hang around the bars because there are things that drag them away from the things that parents would prefer to see them do. I know that many of the people who visit on school trips from the south, young people from places not that different from Yellowknife in size in southern Canada, are absolutely astounded to see the way of life that some of our young people lead here. It seems to be like one long party for some people. I have heard that comment several times.

We have heard references to youth gangs that was unknown ten years ago, the idea of young people going around just simply looking for trouble, yet that is happening now. I note there an increasing number of young people who can no longer be handled by the school system so they are looking for alternative methods and schools. Parents have even given up completely and decide to have their children taught at home because that is the only way they can keep them at their studies. I could go on at length. I have raised a family of my own over the last 30 years in the Northwest Territories. I think that it is more luck than anything else when you see all the things that go on around you that they have been able to come through unscathed for the most part.

There is a particular problem for young boys, I find. Young women can exchange in interesting, adventurous activity without putting themselves in conflict with the law. But young men, for some reason, always seem to choose those things which involve risk which could put them in very real conflict with the law. This natural inclination of young boys to look for adventure, very often puts them in a position where they bring tremendous grief to their parents. Many of my personal friends have gone through this and it is so common now that it is part of the life we live everyday and we try to find ways of coping with it.

I have one question for the Minister. I am not so sure that setting up new structures all the time is always the answer. I know, until two or three years ago, we had a committee called the youth justice committee, in Yellowknife. To be honest, I was never quite sure exactly what the responsibilities or functions of a youth justice committee really was. I would like to get some indication from the Minister, some insight into the worth and value of such a committee. I know that when it existed, it was active and now that it is no longer there, people see that there is a void. There is something that used to exist that seemed to serve a very useful function. It would be useful for us to have a good understanding of what a youth justice committee does. Now that we don't have one in this city, with all the things that are going on around us many parents say there is a void and something needs to be done to resurrect it. That was my only question.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you. Mr. Minister.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

The work that youth justice committees do, community justice committees also, is it is recognizing that there are individuals in a community who want to try to divert young people before the formal justice system gets their...