Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples released its final report last November. Shortly afterward, I informed this House that the Government of the Northwest Territories would analyze the extensive recommendations of that report and be prepared to address them. I am pleased to make this statement outlining our initial reaction to the recommendations. Later today I will table in the Legislative Assembly a document which provides comments on recommendations that are within the mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories.
The report and its recommendations were the culmination of five years intensive work by the Commission which was struck by the Government of Canada to investigate the question: "What are the foundations of a fair and honourable relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people of Canada?". The approximately 400 recommendations are sweeping and detailed covering political, social and economic matters-and call for major action and change by the Government of Canada in partnership with the aboriginal nations as well as the provinces and territories.
As part of our efforts to understand the report, and in the spirit of partnership it advocates, during this past July the Government of the Northwest Territories co-hosted with the regional office of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs an information session. Delegates from communities across the Northwest Territories participated in this session which provided insight as to the meaning of the report and its implications for northerners.
Officials of the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs have also participated in various forums with other jurisdictions in order to more fully understand the report. I had the opportunity to meet with my provincial and aboriginal colleagues to discuss the report during a meeting of provincial/territorial Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs in Regina last April.
One of the most important facts that has come from all this is that, at the territorial, regional and community level, northerners are already doing much to establish new relationships and reform the way we do business as governments. This is not a surprise, since the nature of society in the north, and in the Northwest Territories particularly is quite different from southern Canada.
In the Northwest Territories, we have the opportunity through comprehensive claims, self-government and political development to establish the kind of relationships between people and opportunities for our aboriginal residents which are envisioned in the commission report. The Government of the Northwest Territories through its Agenda for Change has recognized and acted upon the need to adjust our sights in a manner which is very much consistent with many of the recommendations. I do, not make these observations to minimize the need to take the report seriously, though. I believe there is much more we can do and this government will use the report recommendations as a guide and tool to shape our continued efforts to create a better place for all people to live and to create a meaningful place for the Northwest Territories in Canada.
This is particularly the case when we look at the report's major recommendations for rebuilding a cohesive national legislative and administrative framework with which to foster a new relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. This part of the report we have commented on to some extent in the paper I am tabling later today. There is still more considerations that will be needed based on the federal response.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Government of Canada will be officially responding to the report in the near future. The Government of the Northwest Territories anxiously awaits this federal response so that we might begin understanding how northerners and their governments can support the larger national agenda promoted by the recommendations.
My statement today and this paper which I will table will not mark the end of this government's consideration of the report and its recommendations. It marks a starting point. Based on the work we have done so far, departments are now prepared to answer any specific questions people may have and listen to specific suggestions on what more we can do. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.