This is page numbers 4411 - 4462 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 4th 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 project.

Topics

The House met at 1:36 p.m.

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Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. It gives me great pleasure to welcome our colleague back; Mr. Abernethy is back with us today.

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Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Bob McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 80-16(4): Olympic Visual Artists
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, many Northwest Territories residents are watching with great interest as our Canadian athletes, including Hay River’s own Brendan Green, strive to “Own the Podium” at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

It is important to note that the Olympics are more than just a sporting event. These Olympics are not just Vancouver’s games, but Canada’s games and, more importantly, have been the first Olympics to fully partner with aboriginal people. The 2010 Olympics are also a celebration of arts and culture, which we witnessed when our performing artists put on a tremendous show during the Victory Day celebrations held at B.C. Place on NWT Day last Friday. Today I’d like to highlight the Northwest Territories visual artists we have at the games.

Mr. Speaker, the 10 visual artists representing our Territory at the games are from all five regions of the Northwest Territories. They represent various genres of our arts and fine crafts sector and produce work that ranges from moose hair tufting to beadwork.

The Olympics experience will be an invaluable one for these artists. They will be able to expose their work to a large audience during the games. This audience encompasses not just Canada, but the world. They will also collaborate with other artists, acquire marketing skills and meet art gallery owners.

But it’s not just these 10 artists that will benefit from the government’s Olympics presence. Our Territory and its arts and fine crafts sector will also gain much exposure from this initiative. That’s because the artists are not just there to showcase their work, but to act as ambassadors of the Northwest Territories. While they are in Vancouver, they are taking part in workshops, telling stories about our land and culture, providing hands-on demonstrations of their work and promoting the Northwest Territories as a place to visit, live, work and invest in.

Mr. Speaker, we believe the investments we are making in our artists during the 2010 Winter Olympics will strengthen national and international awareness of Northwest Territories art and highlight our traditional arts and fine crafts. In turn, this will potentially open up new markets for our arts and fine crafts sector and create awareness of the Territory in general, of our land, our people and our enormous potential.

Mr. Speaker, these 10 artists are examples of the depth of talent we have in the arts and fine crafts sector and I’d like to publicly acknowledge these talented individuals at this time.

The artists are Brandy Wilson from Fort Smith; Cecile Deneyoua from Hay River; Mary Okheena from Ulukhaktok; Elizabeth Drescher from Inuvik; Janet Grandjambe and Lucy Yakeleya from Fort Good Hope; Jennifer Walden and Jamie Look from Yellowknife; Karen Cumberland from Fort Liard and John Sabourin from Fort Simpson.

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I would encourage the Members of this Legislative Assembly and all Northwest Territories residents, to visit the government’s Olympics website to learn more about these artists, who they are, the work they do and where they are from. This website contains detailed biographies of all 10 artists and a wealth of information about the government’s other activities to promote the Northwest Territories at the Olympics.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the rest of the Members of this Legislative Assembly to join me now in saluting our Northwest Territories artists, as a sign of support for these individuals who are doing so much to help the government achieve its goals of promoting this great land of ours. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 80-16(4): Olympic Visual Artists
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister’s Statement 81-16(4): NWT Biomass Energy Strategy
Ministers’ Statements

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, later today I will be tabling the Northwest Territories Biomass Energy Strategy.

Biomass energy is renewable energy derived from organic plant materials produced by photosynthesis. Essentially, it is solar energy stored in the mass of trees and plants. Biomass energy is available in the NWT in the form of wood and wood pellets.

An increased use of wood and wood pellets as an alternative source of energy supports the Government of the Northwest Territories goal of an environment that will sustain present and future generations.

Given the increasing cost of heating our homes and businesses, our growing concern about the impacts of climate change and the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, wood and wood pellet heating is an economically and environmentally friendly alternative.

Mr. Speaker, climate change remains a serious issue for the people of the Northwest Territories. Our government continues to support, investigate and implement initiatives that will assist in adapting to and mitigate the impacts of climate change in the NWT. The sustainable and wise development of forest resources will help us achieve this.

The Biomass Energy Strategy is an integral part of the Greenhouse Gas Strategy as any progress away from fossil fuel consumption towards a carbon-neutral fuel will dramatically reduce emissions. By using carbon sources that already exist in the ecological system, we use energy without adding new carbon into the system, which has been the largest factor leading climate change.

We hope this strategy will lead to an increase in the use of biomass products, such as wood and wood pellets, by promoting the use of local and important biomass products and reducing our dependency on diesel fuel.

Mr. Speaker, more than 33 hectares of land in the NWT is covered by forests. With careful planning, our forests have the potential for the sustainable harvest of biomass energy because the forest industry currently operates at very low levels. As advances in new technology bring new furnaces and boilers to market to replace or augment oil as a fuel source, wood and wood pellet heating is becoming more and more popular.

Wood pellets are a Canadian renewable resource made from forest industry waste-wood and are used in wood pellet stoves, boilers and furnaces.

Burning at a very high temperature, wood pellets eliminate the waste product often associated with wood heat.

Biomass is also available in the NWT from: wood resident in the form of woodchips from forest fire burn areas; forest thinning for community protection; road building and maintenance and pipeline or seismic line cutting; cardboard, paper or construction and demolition waste; and fast growing willow or poplar.

When a tree is harvested and burned as biomass energy, it is considered carbon neutral as long as the forest is regenerated, both naturally and with silviculture. This cycle results in tree replacement and greenhouse gases neutrality. The department is currently drafting an implementation plan for forest renewal in the Norwest Territories to ensure the sustainable use of our forest resources. It will focus on planning processes and harvesting guidelines that are created to promote natural regeneration and minimize site disturbance.

Timber harvesting continues in the NWT and may expand with recent interest in the potential of harvesting for biomass crops. While ENR will continue to actively reforest harvested lands, the management methods incorporating natural regeneration are expected to become even more important.

By adapting our usages of energy and carbon, we are beginning to reduce the negative effects on the overall world climate and the NWT. The strategy will guide our actions to reduce emissions, and the costs associated with home and business heating, through the increased use of wood and wood pellets. It also established the conditions necessary to enable biomass energy to become an integral part of the energy is in the NWT.

We will continue to work very closely with the NWT communities in both the implementation and planning of biomass initiatives. Mr. Speaker, the NWT is working to become a leader within Canada on alternative, sustainable energy. The Biomass Energy Strategy should help us achieve this goal. Mahsi cho.

Minister’s Statement 81-16(4): NWT Biomass Energy Strategy
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. The honourable Minister of Education, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 82-16(4): Education Week
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, Education Week, February 22nd to the 26th , is a time

to thank educators across the Northwest Territories for the difference they make in the lives of northern students and families. It’s because of their hard work that students are able to graduate and pursue

a post-secondary education and fulfilling employment opportunities.

Each year, the Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association honours our northern educators with the Thank You for Making a Difference campaign. They continually received nominations from students all over the Northwest Territories who want their teachers recognized for the difference they make in their lives. Our teachers are on the frontlines of our education system, teaching our young people the skills they need to reach their full potential and achieve success. They invest a great deal of their time, both in and out of the classroom, tutoring students, coaching teams and, of course, preparing class material.

I think it is safe to say making a difference in the lives of students is why most people become teachers. It’s great that they have opportunities like this to hear these words of appreciation. All our teachers deserve our gratitude for everything they do. I want to congratulate everybody who received nominations, and those who are receiving Thank You for Making a Difference awards.

One issue our teachers face is the need to improve student attendance. When a student is away from school, they miss valuable lessons and fall behind in their work. It is important to remember that education is a collective responsibility shared not only by teachers, but by parents, students and other members in our communities. We all have roles to play to help our young people achieve success. The department recently launched a campaign to improve attendance. Look for our ads and other promotional items that address this important issue.

Programs like the Aboriginal Student Achievement Initiative are bringing healthy meals into schools so kids are ready for class in the morning. The Aboriginal Student Achievement Initiative also provides laptops to high school kids and money for school libraries to purchase much needed books for literacy. Schools across the Northwest Territories are also developing mentorship opportunities that bring students together with elders and there are rewards and incentives for improved attendance. By working together, we can help our students receive the education they deserve.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the teachers and educators across our Territory who commit so much of themselves so their students can be successful. I also want to thank our partners in the communities, aboriginal government, industry and at Aurora College, who continually work to improve education and training opportunities for our people. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 82-16(4): Education Week
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Salvage Component To The Demolition Of Deh Cho Hall
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to speak about the demolition of the Deh Cho Hall in Fort Simpson. This is slated to be done in the summer and completed by the fall time. I have been advised that nothing can be salvaged from the building for community use. Residents of Fort Simpson find that very hard to believe. Why would our government not allow residents and/or organizations an opportunity to use salvageable material for the benefit of residents or their organizations?

Mr. Speaker, I am in favour of coming to some kind of solution that will benefit the community. We have had previous buildings of the same age and construction completely retrofitted and the material was used in the community. The benefits are many. In fact, members of the Catholic Church are looking for a cost-saving solution to replace their existing church. I see that lumber and framing material from the Deh Cho Hall can go a long ways in assisting them. I also see that constructively taking down the building will provide many man hours of work. I will, once again, ask the Minister of Public Works and Services to consider this request before the work begins this coming season. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Salvage Component To The Demolition Of Deh Cho Hall
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.

Improvements To Sahtu Student Performance
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m informed that the percentage of NWT aboriginal high school graduates has increased significantly since 2000. In 2008 approximately 50 percent of graduates were aboriginal; in 2000 only 30 percent of the graduates were aboriginal. In the same period the total number of graduates in smaller communities nearly doubled. Fifty-five percent of those 18 years and older in the NWT are now graduated from high school.

That all sounds like good news to me, but I’m still discouraged. Many of the Sahtu high school graduates don’t have a real high school graduation. They don’t have the right courses and credits to move into post-secondary programs. I don’t think this is a problem that is unique to the Sahtu students or schools, I think this is an issue for Northerners throughout the Northwest Territories. But I will talk about my Sahtu people and their perspectives.

It seems that the higher the grade that you get to, the more likely that you are really far behind in that grade. Evidently students in Yellowknife perform better than students in the small communities and are least successful in their tests.

I know the Minister wants to blame much of this on students and their parents, but let’s be fair here. There’s a lack of success everywhere. Take some responsibility: the department, the school boards, the DEAs, the teachers and the principals. The Minister receives funding to improve education services in small communities.

The Minister says he’s doing new things to support education in small communities. What are these activities that he’s supporting? How many students are taking the 30-level courses and succeeding? The Minister received new funding to launch the Aboriginal Student Achievement Initiative to reduce the gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students’ performances. What is being done in the Sahtu communities? What results should I expect to see? I hope it is more than empty stomachs make empty brains, the newspaper advertisement. I hope it is more than new government employees in Yellowknife. What are the initiatives in the Sahtu communities? What difference are they making?

Young Northerners need good education so the young people can be what they want to be. Education is an investment. We will see the results from that investment when our young people return to the Sahtu as teachers, doctors, nurses, pilots and carpenters, even politicians.

I believe the GNWT’s department of education can work with our boards and DEAs, and our teachers and principals, with our parents and students, to ensure that they have quality education in the Sahtu.

Improvements To Sahtu Student Performance
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Education Week
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As Members will know by now, this is Education Week. Today I also want to recognize and salute educators.

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NWT educators come in many forms. Most are in our formal education system -- kindergarten to grade 12 and college programs -- but there are many who are not. NWT educators include daycare and child care staff, non-government organizations’ educators, English as a second language teachers, playschool and preschool teachers, elders, coaches and parents. We have a huge number of informal educators who work with NWT residents of all ages to promote and enhance lifelong learning.

Teachers and mentors impact our children most particularly and we’re blessed to have many excellent, dedicated teachers in this Territory. They love their job, they love their students, and they work hard to help every one of them to excel. All students don’t, of course, but many do and it’s because of the teachers in their lives.

I’m sure most of us can name at least one teacher who influenced us when we were young. For me it was my Grade 11 History teacher. He taught me to think beyond my reach and try to achieve beyond my capabilities. He taught me that teachers are human and that learning can be fun, even if you think you don’t like the subject.

So this week, Education Week, take the time to tell someone in education that you appreciate their efforts, that they make a positive difference in their students’ lives. If you have a child in the school system, think about how you can become more involved in their schooling, how you can better support their learning efforts through taking part in school activities or helping with school programs.

We don’t recognize the contributions of teachers often enough and kudos must go to both the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and the NWT Teachers’ Association for their programs which salute teaching excellence. The NWTTA Thank You for Making a Difference campaign has grown significantly over the years and now draws in students and parents from across the NWT to nominate an educator for recognition.

Because it’s Education Week, I want to formally say thank you for making a difference to all NWT teachers and to the teachers in Yellowknife schools in particular. But I especially want to single out the staff of Ecole William McDonald School and Ecole Allain St-Cyr, both in the riding of Frame Lake. Thanks to all for your ongoing hard work and dedication to our children. We often say you’re preparing tomorrow’s leaders. I know our future leaders will be great because of the teachers in their lives today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Education Week
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The honourable Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Beaulieu.