This is page numbers 5221 – 5256 of the Hansard for the 17th 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 development.

Topics

United Way NWT
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. Member for Range Lake, Mr. Dolynny.

GNWT Response To Court-Ordered French School Expansion
Members’ Statements

November 5th, 2014

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The GNWT is a whale amongst its minnows. That’s right, that is exactly how I would describe the current relationship the Department of Education has with its school boards, its DECs and DEAs in the NWT.

If the recent botched funding model for Junior Kindergarten doesn’t have you spinning your head by now, then brace for impact as things are going to get a whole lot worse. I am about to add another layer of bureaucratic bullying on how this department is cunningly avoiding its legal obligation to the court-ordered expansion of one of its francophone schools.

While we preach a Safe School Policy of protecting our students within our schools, maybe we should equally be drafting legislation to protect our school boards from being bullied by the department itself because there is no other way to describe these meaningless acts of intimidation and exploitation. Let me explain.

In September 2013, the GNWT approached YK1 and the Commission scolaire francophone, CSF, to seek an expedient and cost-effective alternative to the court-ordered expansion to Ecole Alain St. Cyr. These exploratory discussions involved the review of existing underutilized YK1 space and the needs for the CSF students to determine if alternatives to the court order for additional YK1 space could be found.

As many know, YK1 owns its schools and are operating on low occupancy rates on average. For the GNWT, this was a perfect out to consider constructing another school and they made the YK1 establish a facilities committee to do their dirty work and make YK1 decide a sacrificial lamb. Around here, Mr. Speaker, the code words for that are “school swap.”

Throughout this process, the GNWT would categorically denounce any wrongdoing by washing its hands clean, citing it was relying on YK1 to determine its future changes and programming or to surplus a school.

The department will say that this was its obligation to explore a way to save taxpayer money, because according to the bureaucracy, this is no different than asking a government department to absorb reductions or get rid of unnecessary duplication. Wrong, Mr. Speaker. This is not a government department slash and burn exercise. These are neighbourhood schools we are talking about. This is about families. This is about children being treated like analytical statistics for an appropriation expenditure.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

GNWT Response To Court-Ordered French School Expansion
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

I know personally many members of this YK1 Facilities Committee and wholeheartedly respect the professionalism that went into their final report. However, the current options before the schools and the parents offer little hope of consensus that is to be decided this Thursday at a town hall meeting.

These options greatly affect the fate of the one school in my riding of Range Lake, and I am gravely concerned. I have 178 signatures in my hand that support that very same concern.

What started as an issue of 116 francophone kids and their families and the findings of this YK1 Facilities Committee report has now affected half the city of Yellowknife, has pitted neighbourhood against neighbourhood, school versus school, parent versus parent and student versus student, and this is wrong.

In our eager and frugal mindset of duty, we have dehumanized our education system at the mere expense of trying to dodge a constitutional bullet and we should be embarrassed for those actions.

There is no argument that YK1 is dealing with aging infrastructure and enrolment issues, but what we are about to ask of them by this government is seen as nothing more than unfair treatment and misuse of power. They have their own challenges and we are definitely not helping.

I’ll have questions later today for the Minister. Thank you.

GNWT Response To Court-Ordered French School Expansion
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. The Member for Hay River North, Mr. Bouchard.

Hay River – Hub Of The North
Members’ Statements

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Hay River, a great place to be. Hay River, the hub of the North. Hay River is the best place in the Northwest Territories to live. Hay River has the nicest golf course that turns into the nicest Nordic facility, the home of Brendan Green, the Olympian. Hay River has some of the most affordable options in the Northwest Territories. Check out Hay River’s real estate company or Hay River properties to see that fact.

Hay River has a strong education system, including a French First school system. Hay River, a great place to be. Hay River has a new health centre coming on line, extended care facilities, independent living facilities and a strong Persons with Disabilities Council. Hay River is a very accessible community by road and it has several airline options to travel north and south. Hay River, the hub of the North.

If a person would like to keep busy in Hay River, there are many sports, recreational areas and organizations to get involved with. There are many things to keep busy with in Hay River. Several church groups, several community groups, January 1st there’s fireworks, polar pond hockey, the lobster

fest, NWT track and field, July 1st parade, Hay River

Hay Days, fall fair tradeshow, fall fair, fireman’s ball, Santa Claus parade and, obviously, the home of Buffalo Airways’ Ice Pilots.

If you’re moving north or finding it difficult in your community, look at Hay River, a great place to be. Please check out the Town of Hay River’s website, Chamber of Commerce. Hay River is a great place to be.

If you don’t want to move here, it’s a great place to visit. Hay River has a strong business community. There are many third generation businesses in Hay River. Hay River, the hub of the North.

Hay River is a great place to be from. I’m born and raised. Proud to be the MLA. Thank you.

Hay River – Hub Of The North
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bouchard. The Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Nadli.

Enterprise Visitor Information Centre
Members’ Statements

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, that’s a hard act to follow. The Hamlet of Enterprise has an idea to bring back its visitor information centre at the site of the old weigh scale along the Mackenzie Highway. Enterprise is one of the main transportation corridors. Anyone driving north from Alberta, whether they’re heading to Hay River, Fort Simpson, Behchoko or Yellowknife, has to go through Enterprise. The old weigh scale would be an ideal location for a visitors centre and would offer something unique.

The visitors centre would generate economic activity, create local jobs and tap into the region’s tourism potential. It would showcase the region’s history and connect tourists to nearby attractions like the Twin Falls, the Deh Cho Bridge and, of course, Hay River as well. It would serve as a natural gathering point for groups or motorists.

The visitors centre in Enterprise could serve other purposes too. For many years there was a restaurant and a gift shop at the gas station in Enterprise, and these could reopen. With cooperation from Fort Providence, the centre could be used as a bison interpretive centre and the space would make an ideal venue for local and regional events, just like the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre in Yellowknife and other visitors centres across the NWT do now.

In any case, there’s a wrinkle in the proposed plan. To put the old weigh scale to the proposed use, the land would have to be transferred to the hamlet, but

the Hamlet of Enterprise has an application out on these lands, including the land in which the old weigh scale is situated. The application has been stalled for a couple of years. Basically this means all new development is in limbo.

Of course, no final decisions have been made and the local hamlet council has agreed to hold a community meeting to discuss the future use of the building. If the hamlet council develops a visitors information centre, it would need mutual cooperation from local, regional and territorial governments.

Opportunities for road tourism abound and I’m requesting assistance from the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment to help Enterprise showcase the attractions of the Deh Cho region. Mahsi.

Enterprise Visitor Information Centre
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Nadli. The Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

Mental Health Issues
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mental illness has had such a negative and unfair stigma. Those people facing these challenges are often facing burdens well beyond their individual ability to carry these struggles. They face illnesses of different types that many of us often shy away from. We must support them in their struggle. Many people who struggle with mental illness also face additional challenges such as the struggle with addictions as well as their challenges with the law.

Folks like this who struggle through this don’t necessarily do it alone but they do it through the process of being ostracized sometimes by the public, their friends, and certainly their family members. That is why it’s so important that we must find ways to help them through this burden, because it’s an incredible opportunity to help them face these challenges and give them support where they can.

We can’t do this alone and certainly they can’t. This government must continue to find ways to support families who are struggling with a loved one who was given these challenges. I can assure you, I’ve never seen anyone ask for this particular challenge as they boldly try to face them down. Sadly, many of these challenges are not faced, and these burdens are often kept secret.

This government, as I said, must do anything it can do to help tear down these barriers. That would be the first thing. Secondly, it must do whatever it can to ensure that the resources are available to help when action and support are called upon, because facing some of these challenges is a daunting task by itself, and if you fear that no one will hear you, then the chances of coming forward are even more unlikely.

There are challenges sometimes with motivating someone who has mental illness because they just don’t want to face the challenges and the further negative stigma. Sometimes I’ve heard from people that it’s often easier to hide in the dark than it is to be front and centre.

We must find ways to ensure we support these people, as I’ve said already. Sadly, people would rather be tucked away and not face these challenges and be worried about what may happen to them. I know families trying to help their loved ones and they, too, are feeling helpless by the system because the Northwest Territories continues to use the 1988 Mental Health Act which keeps these families feeling powerless. Unless these loved ones were able to break through the process of being identified and seeking help, we continue to leave them at their own devices.

Medical services can’t help sometimes. Families often feel their hands are tied. Even the police have said that and the justice system knows that people with mental illness, this isn’t necessarily the right place for them.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Mental Health Issues
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

The barriers of the current act must be overcome as quickly as possible, because access must be unobstructed in all regions of our territory. I’ve heard from people who’ve contacted me directly from Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith and I’ve even talked to families here in Yellowknife and they’re all saying the same thing, that the families are struggling and they really want to help but they feel powerless. Professionals have told me that they feel handcuffed because their act is archaic. So many other things have been said as well.

Concerns such as lack of community treatment provisions in a timely way or even simple access, patient rights continue to be challenging. I’ve often heard from the medical staff about their inability to help. Even the redundant paperwork, one physician had told me that it says 19 and then blank, so it clearly shows that the paperwork alone is, minimum, 15 years old. It goes back to the last century.

The rights and safety of these patients must be paramount, and I know the department has the Mental Health Act on its agenda, but things, as we see ourselves, continue to burden these families and burden these people. When they do have the courage to come forward, they wonder if the help is really there.

The old act is kind of like being in the Dark Ages, and I’m sorry to use such a colourful metaphor, but at the end of the day, that’s how the people feel.

In summary, any further delay in the development of the new NWT act, and we must do anything we can. I look forward to my questions and the clear answers about how we move this initiative forward.

Mental Health Issues
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. I’m going to remind the Members that when I say conclude your statement, you’ve got about, I guess, 30 seconds, not another two minutes. I’m trying to help the Members out here. The Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, Mr. Moses.

Aurora Research Institute
Members’ Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In 1964 the federal Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources built and opened up the scientific research laboratory in Inuvik. It was Canada’s first permanent scientific research station in the Western Arctic or north of the Arctic Circle. The centre quickly became known locally as the Inuvik Research Laboratory or The Lab and, later, The Research Centre.

The lab was turned over to the Northwest Territories in 1984 and renamed the Science Institute of the Northwest Territories. A decade later, in 1995, it merged with Aurora College to become Aurora Research Institute.

After 46 years of continual operation and heavy use by the research community, the original building was replaced in 2011 with a beautiful state-of-the-art facility that was designed with researchers and specifically northern researchers in mind. The new facility was named the Western Arctic Research Centre.

For more than 50 years, local, national and international researchers have been coming to the Western Arctic to build a collective understanding of our region, the country and the world. This area has been the location for many important and significant contributions of knowledge, both scientific and traditional, to a variety of research areas. These have included investigations of the physical, biological and social environments of Inuvik and the Beaufort-Delta.

In addition to researchers, community members made the lab a community hub and an active part of town life. Prior to television and movie theatres arriving in Inuvik, the lab sponsored movie nights on Fridays. That tradition was revisited during October this year and proves to be still a very popular event.

The lab was also the venue for some of the first Inuvik town hall sessions, where the development of other town facilities, such as the library and arena, were proposed and discussed. In this tradition, the Aurora Research Institute continues to remain strong ties with Inuvik residents by hosting public research lectures and facilitating science

outreach activities for children and youth. It is hoped that these events both raise awareness of northern science and research taking place in our region and make science more accessible to members of the local community.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Aurora Research Institute
Members’ Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Mr. Speaker, to commemorate the anniversary of 50 years of research in Inuvik, a number of community events are being planned throughout the month of November. Fifty years of continuous research service in Inuvik shows how important the Beaufort-Delta region is to studying the big questions that impact everyone. Our territory is ever changing and will continue to be an important place to study many environmental, social and cultural issues.

The Aurora Research Institute is committed to serving the region and the NWT through supporting research needs of Northerners. I would just like all Members to join me in congratulating 50 years of research in the Northwest Territories that helped shape the North and helped shape how we make decisions in this House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Aurora Research Institute
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Living Wage Movement
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if the Premier would consider decentralizing my position to Hay River.

Just kidding, Mr. Speaker. This week is… Don’t answer that question.

---Interjection