This is page numbers 4023 - 4060 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 school.

Topics

The House met at 1:36 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Bob McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 61-16(4): Diamonds, Tourism And Canada’s Northern House Statement
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games are still a few days away, but our government’s efforts to promote the Northwest Territories at the games as a place to invest in, visit and live have been going on for quite some time.

With that in mind, I’d like to talk today about the government’s recent activities in this very important initiative.

Mr. Speaker, Canada’s Northern House opened to the public on January 15th . This is the North’s

Olympic pavilion and is the result of a partnership between the governments of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon. This building will be ground zero in our pan-territorial efforts to promote the North.

Two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend the grand opening of Canada’s Northern House, as was the honourable Member for Kam Lake, Mr. Dave Ramsay. Also attending the grand opening were Nunavut Deputy Premier Peter Taptuna, Yukon Deputy Premier Elaine Taylor, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, the federal government’s Minister of State for Sport, Gary Lunn, and Vancouver Olympic Committee CEO Mr. John Furlong. It was a proud moment for the Northwest Territories.

And I say that with conviction, Mr. Speaker. Canada’s Northern House was the first Canadian provincial and territorial Olympic pavilion to open.

A great accomplishment for the three territories with limited resources.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure each and every resident of the Northwest Territories that Canada’s Northern House is a wonderful asset in our efforts to promote our home to the world. It truly showcases the best our Territory has to offer: our people, our culture, our land, our communities, our arts and crafts and our business opportunities.

It has also been a smash hit with the public. On Sunday we had over 3,500 visitors and over 20,000 visitors have walked through our doors so far. We’ve received media coverage from all across Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Asia. I’d like to provide the Members with a sampling of some of the words visitors have used to describe Canada’s Northern House: “beautiful,” “fascinating,” “amazing,” “awesome,” “informative” and “wonderful.”

Mr. Speaker, this government has also ensured that there is a full slate of events and programming scheduled at Canada’s Northern House. We just wrapped up two of those events. The first was Diamond Week, held February 1st to 4th , where we

promoted our diamond industry. The week featured demonstrations on diamond cutting and polishing, talks on prospecting and information about diamond mining from representatives of our three diamond mines. The week was capped off by the “Rare in Nature” fashion show, which featured Northwest Territories diamonds, jewellery and the fur fashions of Dene Fur Clouds of Fort Providence. Mr. Robert Hawkins and I had the opportunity to attend this gala. It was a tremendous show and a wonderful way to wrap up Diamond Week.

Yesterday and today Canada’s Northern House is hosting Tourism Days, where Mikey McBryan of Buffalo Airways, operators like Ted Grant of Simpson Air and the Nahanni Mountain Lodge, and Don Morin of Aurora Village, along with representatives of Northwest Territories Tourism and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, are on hand to promote the broad range of tourism opportunities in the Northwest Territories.

Yesterday Mr. Dave Ramsay and I had the privilege of attending one of these tourism days. We were able to meet with the tourism travel trade, media

and Canadian Tourism Commission delegates. It was an amazing event.

This was just the beginning, Mr. Speaker. Activities and events will continue at Canada’s Northern House until April and this facility and our promotional efforts there will bring unprecedented exposure to the Northwest Territories. It will also potentially open up new markets for our artists and our businesses, and help to diversify our economy and provide all Northwest Territories communities and regions with choices and opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, in a few days Canadian athletes will give it their all in hopes of bringing home the gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics. And I can assure the Members of this House and all our residents that the Government of the Northwest Territories is giving its all to promote our Territory at the games. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 61-16(4): Diamonds, Tourism And Canada’s Northern House Statement
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Minister of Health and Social Services, Ms. Lee.

Minister’s Statement 62-16(4): NWT Mental Wellness Week – February 7 - 13, 2010
Ministers’ Statements

Range Lake

Sandy Lee Minister of Health and Social Services

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce the week of February 7 to 13, 2010, has been designated NWT Mental Wellness Week by the Northwest Territories branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Twenty percent of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. The change in name from Mental Health Week to NWT Mental Wellness Week emphasizes how it is important not to stigmatize mental health issues and instead draw attention to how we are able to take positive steps towards our mental well-being.

Mr. Speaker, “Building Supports” is one of the key messages for Mental Wellness Week this year. The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to assisting residents in the NWT in making healthy choices and finding ways to address mental health and addiction issues. By building a strong personal support system for ourselves, we will increase our mental wellness and better cope with day-to-day life.

As outlined in a Foundation for Change Action Plan, we can each make healthy choices to build supports for ourselves, such as asking for help when we need it, making our relationships a priority or joining a group in which we share common interests.

Within the Health and Social Services authorities, the Community Counselling Program addresses the areas of mental health, addictions and family violence. Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge all the front-line staff and workers, such as clinical supervisors, mental health and addictions

counsellors and wellness workers, for their hard work and commitment in supporting the people of the NWT in their pursuit of wellness. They provide essential services such as counselling and referrals for both treatment and after-care.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Social Services has committed approximately $800,000 in suicide prevention initiatives this year, such as suicide prevention training programs and community-based projects such as self-esteem camps for youth.

Health and Social Services also funds the NWT Helpline through the NWT branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. The NWT Helpline provides toll-free service for those in distress from across the NWT. The NWT Helpline number in Yellowknife is 920-2121 or toll-free 1-800-661-0844.

The department is also proud to support new community-based, culturally relevant initiatives in the Beaufort-Delta region to address mental health and addictions issues. Mr. Speaker, they are working closely with the Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to support a three-year pilot project in the region in the communities of Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk and Fort McPherson.

This work is unique in that community-based organizations are being provided the opportunity to design their own Mental Health and Addictions Program based on their understanding of their need and their unique understanding of solutions that will work for them.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to extend a warm thank you to the delegates, who are Heath and Social Services employees appointed under the Mental Health Act, for volunteering their time to ensure the act is followed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 62-16(4): NWT Mental Wellness Week – February 7 - 13, 2010
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Lee. The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 63-16(4): Culture And Heritage Updates
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

This week is Heritage Week and each year the City of Yellowknife recognizes one resident for their work preserving our northern heritage. I want to congratulate Yvonne Quick, who is the recipient of the 2009 City of Yellowknife Heritage Award. Over the years she has served on the City of Yellowknife’s Heritage Committee, the Northern Frontier Visitors Association board of directors, the Wildcat Cafe Advisory Committee, the NWT Mining Heritage Society and the Float Plane Fly-in and Air Show committees. She is also the current coordinator of the Arctic Ambassadors and

represents the Northwest Territories on the federal/provincial/territorial Culture, Heritage and Tourism Initiative, a nation-wide committee that brings together heritage and tourism.

There are many heritage activities and programs provided year-round by schools, language centres, cultural organizations and community museums across the Northwest Territories. I encourage people and families to participate in these activities and consider the many ways of celebrating their cultural heritage in everyday life through spending time with elders, preparing traditional foods, travelling to places of cultural significance, speaking their traditional language and learning about their family history through stories and photographs. Residents and visitors in the Yellowknife area may want to visit the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre the evening of February 10th for the opening

of the City of Yellowknife Heritage Art Show, featured until February 26th . The exhibit highlights

the rich history of our capital city expressed through creativity of Yellowknife residents.

I believe supporting this kind of creativity is essential for fostering productive and healthy communities. In 2010 the NWT Arts Council celebrates 25 years of supporting northern artists, helping them develop and share their talents. Since it started in August 1985, the NWT Arts Council has provided support to over 1,000 artists and organizations.

Throughout this anniversary year, activities and workshops are planned in each region showcasing local artists and cultural organizations. I invite everybody to participate in their community, get to know their local artists and thank them for enriching the cultural fabric of our communities. I would like to thank the NWT Arts Council members across the Territory whose ongoing efforts increase awareness about the value of northern art.

A great way people and visitors in the Yellowknife area can learn more about the NWT Arts Council is by viewing some of the art they’ve supported at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. In addition, Amazing Family Sunday activities at the territorial museum often include presentations by artists who are funded by the council and other programs of my department.

These are great opportunities to spend time with family, learning about the diverse cultures that make our Territory such a great place to call home.

I’d like to give you a taste of some of the Amazing Family Sunday activities coming up at the museum. On February 14th the City of Yellowknife Heritage

Committee is hosting a storytelling event; on February 21st people are invited to a tour of the art

on display at the museum, with demonstrations by the Aurora Arts Society; music is the theme on February 28th , when people can take in a

performance by members of Classics on Stage

Yellowknife; and finally, on March 5th local experts

will demonstrate traditional northern clothing decoration. I encourage everybody to bring their family on Sundays for a fun look at the art and culture of the Northwest Territories.

Visitors to our territorial museum can also catch a glimpse of some existing new exhibits being created. Museum staff are currently developing new permanent displays that highlight the beauty and cultural significance of our northern landscapes, animals, artifacts, stories and legends. A new display featuring muskrat in the Mackenzie Delta is scheduled to open in June 2010.

As I said earlier, supporting northern art and culture is essential for fostering healthy and productive communities. I want to again thank the NWT Arts Council for 25 years dedicated to helping northern artists achieve their goals. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 63-16(4): Culture And Heritage Updates
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Item 3, Members’ statements.

New School For Trout Lake
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

[English translation not provided.]

Mr. Speaker, I was in Trout Lake before Christmas and the community leadership and members have great value for our education system and for their children. They want a real school.

Presently, classes for students from K to 10 are held in the community recreation complex in a one-room area. This area is being retrofitted and it is not the same as a stand-alone school. Also, once plans begin for a new school, I also ask that a gymnasium be considered, as Trout Lake is one of the two communities in the North that does not have a gymnasium.

Trout Lake is experiencing a homecoming of sorts. Young couples are raising and bringing their young families home with them and settling in the community. They would like a school like the one in Jean Marie River.

Learning starts in the home community and children need a safe and enjoyable place to learn. Thus I support the community in their request for a new stand-alone school in Trout Lake.

New School For Trout Lake
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The honourable Member for Nunakput, Mr. Jacobson.

Firefighting Equipment In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today my Member’s statement is on the condition of

firefighting equipment in the communities. Our small, remote communities are ill-equipped to fight fires. The approach our community fire departments are now taking is to let fires burn and to just control it. Our communities have no offensive and defensive capabilities, and that is unacceptable. Considering that the small, remote communities that are most susceptible to house fires have the highest number of deaths per capita all over Canada, you’d think this government would be working with local fire marshals and various funding sources to develop real funding for each community.

When I toured my communities during my last constituency tour, the Sachs Harbour hamlet foreman took me for a tour of the garage, where an outdated fire truck sat in cold storage and was last inspected in 1984. The last time the garage was needed for repairs, valves for the truck were broken. I spoke to the mayor, Yvonne Elias, that the community consistently worries, knowing that they don’t have a fire truck in the event of a fire. That’s unacceptable. Sachs Harbour could not include vital services in their capital plan due to struggles with their ongoing problems with the rec complex. Paulatuk has some old firefighting gear, as they could not afford all new. Ulukhaktok has the same situation: outdated firefighter’s gear.

Why is this government continuing to place firefighting services in small, remote communities on the back burner? I’ve visited all my communities enough to know the communities desperately need an overhaul in their fire equipment. I’m especially concerned with the lack of equipment and resources for each community. Firefighters entering a house, searching for somebody, could get trapped without proper equipment. They could seriously get hurt.

I hope the community firefighters in the NWT will have experience, and if they do, we must equip them. They are risking their lives to serve and protect the communities. The least we can do is train and equip them properly.

I’ll have questions for the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs at the appropriate time.

Firefighting Equipment In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Ecole Allain St-Cyr School Expansion
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. [English translation not provided.]

Mr. Speaker, it may be a little early to start talking about a capital project, but there is an unequal situation in one of our schools in Yellowknife, one which must be corrected. Ecole Allain St-Cyr provides French first-language schooling for students from kindergarten to grade 12, and

because of dedicated parents, teachers and board members -- which celebrates its 20th anniversary

this year -- has grown from a single portable at Sissons School site in 1989, with only nine students, to the opening of their own building on their own land in 2000, to the five grade 12 students in the initial graduating class in 2007, then phase one of a two-part expansion to the school in 2008.

Yet, this school of about 110 students does not enjoy the same facilities as other YK schools. Ecole Allain St-Cyr does not have any capacity for physical education. They have no gym, no multi-purpose space and no outdoor playing field. A gymnasium is scheduled for the second part of the school’s expansion, and the dollars for that expansion are not in the 2010-11 Capital Budget and not in the 2011-12 Capital Budget either. No, phase two of Ecole Allain St-Cyr has been delayed until at least the 2012-13 fiscal year.

This is a complicated situation, Mr. Speaker. As French first-language rights holders, the children of Francophone parents are guaranteed schooling in French, according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the federal government provides funding for French first-language schools; schools such as Ecole Allain St-Cyr. The GNWT, through Education, Culture and Employment, was slow to agree to build the school’s necessary expansion a number of years ago and phase one only took place after a court decision forced the government’s hand. Phase two of the court-ordered expansion has once again been delayed by ECE and should not be delayed any further. All parties concerned recognize that capital planning takes time and that it is a slow process, particularly when three orders of government are involved. But, Mr. Speaker, I don’t think we want to go back to court to get phase two underway.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted.

Ecole Allain St-Cyr School Expansion
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Apparently, GNWT is waiting for the federal government to commit capital funds, and the federal government is waiting for the GNWT to commit the funds. The kids are caught in the middle, learning in a school without a gym to give them much-needed physical activities. Ecole Allain St-Cyr students deserve the same access to physical education activities as all other students in the city. Phase two of the expansion of Ecole Allain St-Cyr must be included in the 2011-12 Infrastructure Budget. It can’t be left until 2012-13. If the GNWT takes the lead and shows our commitment to this project by assigning the capital dollars, then the Government of Canada is much more likely to ante up their portion of the capital costs. Thank you, Mr. Speaker