This is page numbers 357 - 395 of the Hansard for the 13th Assembly, 7th 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 highway.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Erasmus, Honourable Sam Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Honourable Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Morin, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Rabesca, Honourable Floyd Roland, Honourable Vince Steen.

Oh, God, may your spirit and guidance be in us as we work for the benefit of all our people, for peace and justice in our land and for the constant recognition of the dignity and aspirations of those whom we serve. Amen.

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 357

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Good afternoon. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Roland.

Minister's Statement 45-13(7): International Year Of Older Persons
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 357

Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to update this House on the activities that are taking place in the Northwest Territories to celebrate the International Year of Older Persons, 1999. The International Year of Older Persons has been designated by the United Nations to recognize the important role seniors play in society. The Canadian theme for the year is, Canada, a Society for All Ages.

We are pleased to have the Honourable Flora McDonald with us today. Ms. McDonald is the co-chair of the Canada Coordinating Committee for the International Year of Older Persons. Her co-chair, Mr. Don Harron, is unable to be in the NWT to join in today's celebrations. The Canada Coordinating Committee, which has representation from all the provinces and territories, was formed to encourage participation in activities of the International Year of Older Persons. The committee also helps create sponsorships, partnerships and links among the public, voluntary and private sectors. It encourages collaboration, information exchanges and project coordination across Canada. The committee monitors and evaluates outcomes of the year and reports on progress to the Ministers responsible for Seniors.

Mr. Speaker, the International Year of Older Persons gives us an excellent opportunity to talk about issues relating to aging. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the many valuable contributions seniors and elders have made, and continue to make every day. Activities are well underway all over Canada, as well as in the Northwest Territories. The NWT/Nunavut Coordinating Committee has been established to coordinate and promote activities that support relationships between the generations and honour our elders.

The NWT/Nunavut representative to the Canada Coordinating Committee is the Right Reverend John Sperry. Bishop Sperry's many years serving the people of the north and his ability to speak both English and Inuktitut, make him a most suitable and effective representative for both the NWT and Nunavut. Many communities have already started to celebrate the International Year of Older Persons. For example, Inuvik has planned a number of activities. These activities include having feasts, dances, games and berry picking events and discussions on nutrition. In Yellowknife, the Yellowknife Seniors' Society is celebrating the year by producing a book of history and stories which reflect the early days of Yellowknifers. This book will not only be an interesting read, but will also be an educational resource for school children.

All Northerners over the age of 60 will receive a special commemorative pin. People over the age of 80 will also receive special recognition and gifts. One of the most exciting events being undertaken in Canada and the Northwest Territories is an oral history project. Elders and seniors will be interviewed and their stories will be recorded on audio or videocassettes by students and other members of the community. The coordinating committee will provide prizes for the best submissions. These will be forwarded to a national competition.

Mr. Speaker, this is but a small sketch of the activities that are underway in the Northwest Territories in honour of the International Year of Older Persons. I would like to encourage NWT communities to take part in activities that will strengthen harmony between generations, and honour our elders. We can support International Year of Older Persons' activities by doing simple things such as hosting a family reunion, volunteering time to support activities for seniors, encouraging information sharing across the generations, and supporting projects to make communities safe for elders.

I am also pleased to announce that I will be presenting a discussion paper on older women's issues at the meeting of Ministers responsible for Seniors, which is to take place in St. John's, Newfoundland, on June 28. The discussion paper was prepared by the Department of Health and Social Services in consultation with other provincial and territorial governments. It highlights the significant barriers to well-being faced by older women. In closing, Mr. Speaker, I ask that we all take the opportunity to celebrate and promote the International Year of Older Persons and to honour our elders. Thank you. Mahsi cho.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 45-13(7): International Year Of Older Persons
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 357

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 46-13(7): Preserving Aboriginal Languages
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 357

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that makes the Northwest Territories unique is the variety of aboriginal lifestyles and languages. There is a very real concern about the possible extinction of some of our aboriginal languages. The efforts we have been making are not enough. Before it is too late, it is important that we step back and find a better way to preserve and in some cases revitalize the languages.

Keeping your language is an important part of keeping your culture. We need to recognize the role of family and communities in sustaining language and culture. Our language should be something that you learn on your mother's knee. Schools can support that language development but cannot replace what a child can learn at home.

I met this morning with the participants at the Aboriginal Languages Communities Conference. They include representatives from the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and the language communities as well as the Languages Commissioner. I have asked this group to put their thoughts over the next two days towards the development of a language strategy. While it should address all official languages, the heart of the strategy must focus on the preservation of aboriginal languages. This strategy cannot be developed in isolation by any one group. The department, Languages Commissioner and the various language communities must all be active participants in its development and in making it a reality.

The strategy needs to look at how we have tried to support languages, Mr. Speaker. We need to determine what has been effective, what has not worked and how we should redesign activities to promote language use and prevent any further loss of language. As a government, we need to make sure our legislation, policies and strategies support the preservation of language. Efforts at the community level also have to focus on preservation and on the family as the key player.

I have asked the conference participants to think about three key issues:

1. How we focus on keeping our unique languages alive and vibrant;

2. How we keep our actions based on family and the community; and

3. How to ensure that government is in tune with language communities.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the strategy is not to justify the need for more funding. The strategy will be developed within the budget parameters of the current government budget and any other funds that other interested parties may wish to bring to the table. The people at the table this morning have years of experience and a strong interest in preserving and revitalizing aboriginal languages. They need to be realistic and find what is do-able.

Mr. Speaker, if work goes as planned, we will have an initial draft of the strategy by the fall for comment and consideration. The government and the language communities are really two sides of the same coin trying to preserve languages. We need both parts to work together if we want to be effective and to make a lasting difference. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 46-13(7): Preserving Aboriginal Languages
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 358

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Roland.

Minister's Statement 47-13(7): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 358

Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Jim Antoine is returning from the Deh Cho Territorial Leadership Meeting in Fort Liard and will be arriving late in the House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 47-13(7): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 358

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mrs. Groenewegen.

Member's Statement 132-13(7): Contributions Of Seniors To NWT Society
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 358

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to direct my statement to the issue of seniors living in the Northwest Territories. Our senior citizens bring a special dimension to the quality of life in our communities. In Hay River we have a large contingent of seniors. They are involved in a diverse array of activities, volunteering in the schools, visiting in the hospital, delivering meals on wheels, supporting our service clubs with their efforts and much, much more.

They are organized politically. A force to be reckoned with you might say. They watch the proceedings of this government very carefully. In the near future, we are going to have a Youth Assembly. Young people from our communities will come here and take our seats in this Legislature. It would be very interesting to conduct an Elders Assembly and see what seniors would have to say about the many issues facing our new territory.

As senior citizens of our communities, they are the bastion of historic knowledge about us. If we take the time to listen, they have so many interesting things to tell us about the way things were and even the way things should be. We have benches in front of Riverview Lodge in downtown Hay River. I have enjoyed so much the times I have stopped to sit and chat with a senior that would be sitting there, someone like Lionel Gagnier or Maurice Hyland. Uncle Maurice, as we fondly called him, recently passed away and now I am especially glad for the opportunities I took to sit and visit with him.

I have said this before in this House, but too often we wait until a person has passed on before we stop to honour them. Yesterday I had lunch with Joe McBryan to hear all about his Dad's 80th birthday party. Joe was saying and I totally agree, we need to have more community barbecues, potluck dinners, informal gatherings, not necessarily with any special agenda, just to get together and visit and this would include our seniors.

I appreciate the special camaraderie I observe at the many community functions which our seniors attend. Besides their monthly meetings in Hay River, they also bowl together once a week. They just care about and look out for each other. In this the International Year of Older Persons, it would be good for every community in our territory to honour our seniors with a special community gathering so they will be reminded once again how important they are in our society.

Mr. Speaker, both of my parents are now deceased. When we were young, we were taught to respect our elders. My parents ran a small town, main street, meat market and grocery store. There were many seniors in our community, many, like when we were kids, we thought Saint Mary's was just one big retirement home. Our store took phone orders for groceries and delivered them to the homes. My Dad was the boss. He was a slave-driver, but my mother would send us off to deliver groceries. Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

Member's Statement 132-13(7): Contributions Of Seniors To NWT Society
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 359

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Hay River is seeking unanimous consent to conclude her statement. Do we have any nays? There are no nays. Mrs. Groenewegen, you have unanimous consent.

Member's Statement 132-13(7): Contributions Of Seniors To NWT Society
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 359

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Sorry Mr. Speaker, I was not observing the time. As I said, I can remember my mother often sending us off to deliver groceries and on the way out the door she would mention to us that Mrs. so-and-so sounded rather down today, so please stop and take time to visit for a little while. When we would get back to the store, Dad was always wondering why were we gone for so long and we would get reprimanded for it, but those were very special times.

I hope I can honour their memory by living what they taught us, to more often do a little extra through a kind word or deed for a senior citizen. Mr. Speaker, some days at the age of 42, I feel like a older person, but I cannot be too old because my baby girl is only ten years old today and I think her energy will keep me young for a long time as I observe myself in her. Happy Birthday, Jillian. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 132-13(7): Contributions Of Seniors To NWT Society
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 359

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Rabesca.

Member's Statement 133-13(7): Passing Of Harry Koyina
Item 3: Members' Statements

April 27th, 1999

Page 359

James Rabesca North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This morning we had the honour to share lunch with elders from Yellowknife and area in celebrating the International Year of Older Persons. I would like to welcome all that attended the luncheon and who are also sitting in the gallery today. Today, Mr. Speaker, the Dogrib Nation lost one of its traditional statesman who also happened to be my father-in-law. Mr. Harry Koyina was born on December 10, 1910, and was raised by his father because his mother died when he was born. He lived with his family on the land where they travelled vast distances by birchbark canoes and dog teams up to the Great Bear Lake area. He also hunted and trapped within the Dogrib area travelling up to Snare Lakes, Wha Ti, Rae Lakes and as far as Fort Simpson and Lutselk'e. Mr. Koyina married Laiza Mantla on July 31, 1936, an arranged marriage by the old chief, traditional name was Kw'ahitzo. Together they had 13 children and all were raised on the land. They taught their children the ways of both cultures, strong like two people.

Mr. Koyina worked for Rae Rock Mine when it first opened and were the last family to leave the site after the mine shut down. In the late 1950's Mr. Koyina was a band counsellor and worked very hard to meet and serve the needs of the people for 13 years. Mr. Koyina was a man who strongly supported and saw the importance of education. He also took great pride in looking after his family and was a good provider. He was always there to help his friends, families and those who needed his help. His wife and children as well as 35 grandchildren and 8eight great-grandchildren survived Mr. Koyina All were touched by his love and his traditional knowledge and the skills he had to teach and pass on his knowledge. To this day people called him Kw'ahti. He was a very spiritual elder and will be missed by all. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 133-13(7): Passing Of Harry Koyina
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 359

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Krutko.