This is page numbers 1609 – 1654 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 2nd 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 going.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Hon. Tom Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Green, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Hon. Alfred Moses, Mr. Nadli, Mr. Nakimayak, Mr. O'Reilly, Hon. Wally Schumann, Hon. Louis Sebert, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Testart, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Vanthuyne.

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Honourable Premier.

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, a strong partnership with the Government of Canada is essential to ensuring Northerners can achieve their social, environmental, and economic goals. By working with our federal counterparts, the Government of the Northwest Territories will help create a Northwest Territories where all people can thrive and be healthy, where a strong economy provides jobs and opportunities for all our communities, and where a well-managed environment contributes to our economic well-being and quality of life.

Mr. Speaker, this past Friday I met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss some of the issues we face as a territory. The Prime Minister understands our governments share the same goals of wellness, health, and prosperity.

Mr. Speaker, Canada needs a plan for sustainable growth and development in the North that will help give Northerners the certainty that they can live and prosper here at home, now and into the future. The Prime Minister agrees that we need to unlock the economic opportunities and jobs, not to make money for southern companies, but to keep it here, in the North. We need a two-fold approach to unlock our abundant natural resources to grow and sustain our economic future, to lower the cost of living and develop training, education, and capacity-building opportunities. The Prime Minister agrees that an efficient and effective regulatory system is needed, and I look forward to working with him on this.

While development of our non-renewable resources is important to our economic prosperity, we must ensure that communities have access to local economies, marine and freshwater fisheries, tourism, and traditional economies. All Members agree a diversified economy is an important part of the Northwest Territories' economic future, Mr. Speaker. This is what it means to unlock our potential.

The Government of the Northwest Territories' vision for a sustainable Arctic is founded on balance, Mr. Speaker. Sustainability will be achieved only by strengthening communities by placing a priority on social, cultural, environmental, and economic factors. This is an interest we share with Yukon and Nunavut.

The North is built on partnership and collaboration. For decades, our government has recognized and worked with Aboriginal governments on shared interests that will improve the lives of residents in the Northwest Territories. Collaborative relationships and finding consensus to move forward is what has allowed us to achieve the success and growth we have in the North.

Achieving that balance and creating results for Northerners will require a vision and a plan that takes global realities and Northern aspirations into account. Recently, the Government of Canada took a significant potential economic development opportunity off the table when they declared a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development. The Prime Minister has committed to revisiting the moratorium in five years, and we look forward to playing a productive role in that review. We understand the reasons for the decision, and the Government of Canada is willing to work with us to develop comparable opportunities for our residents.

A shared vision for territorial sustainability and development would help us plan for the kind of future Northerners want, Mr. Speaker. It will let us assess the opportunities in front of us, foresee global trends, and then make deliberate choices about how to invest our time, money, and effort on creating a future for our residents.

Creating jobs and opportunities for Northerners is important to our success, and the Prime Minister acknowledged that they need to open other doors for Northerners when they close one, as with offshore drilling. Building a green economy in the North could be one of the doors we open, and our shared commitment to getting remote communities off diesel and expanding our hydro potential to combat climate change will create long-lasting economic opportunities and diversify our economy and job force.

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and my colleagues in Nunavut and Yukon agree that a collaborative approach to creating a vision and strategy for sustainable growth and development is needed, a pan-territorial sustainable development strategy created by the Northerners to meet northern needs. I look forward to working with Members to get your input on what the vision for our territory's development should be. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Two of the key factors in community wellness and safety are education and partnership. Every person and organization across the Northwest Territories has something to contribute to help make our communities healthy and safe.

At the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, all of our programs and services follow a continuum of strategies, building on the foundation of others. These strategies are designed to address community and residents' needs from early childhood through to ensuring Northerners have the skills, attitudes, and opportunities for success.

Mr. Speaker, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services, the Right from the Start strategy is strengthening services, programs, and resources for families and caregivers with young children across the North.

We have worked closely with early childhood program operators to provide them with supports, new funding, and few administrative requirements so they can focus on developing quality programs for children in their care.

The Early Childhood Staff Grant program, ongoing since 2015, continues to encourage early childhood workers in licensed daycare facilities to upgrade their skills and education through incremental wage benefits. Over the 2015-16 fiscal year, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment provided grants to approximately 240 full and part-time early childhood workers. The goal of this program is to help licensed childcare facilities provide a greater level of service to the communities and workers with a higher income and knowledge.

As well, since 2014-15, we have awarded 38 scholarships to post-secondary students enrolled in full-time early childhood development diploma or degree programs. This includes 13 scholarships awarded in 2016-17.

This is an investment in the critical early years, to ensure the children of the North have quality childhood workers committed to their safety and care.

Mr. Speaker, further to fulfilling our mandate commitments in community wellness and safety, we have had a strong focus on ensuring our schools are safe. Schools are central to many communities, but we know there are issues in every school. We can see this across Canada and around the world.

We have been working very closely with our education partners over the past few years and have engaged with experts in implementing safe and caring schools. We must ensure our schools are safe environments so students can focus on learning and feel supported and that staff can feel secure.

On September 1, 2016, the Territorial School Code of Conduct and Safe Schools Regulations came into effect. The regulations set a standard of behaviour for Northwest Territories students, school staff, and the school community. The department has provided education bodies with templates and exemplars to assist in the required development of the Safe Schools plans and is currently providing supports to education bodies in the development of emergency response plans to be implemented in the 2017-18 school year. These plans will be reviewed and updated annually.

As well, the department is working with non-government organization partners and education bodies to develop policies and resources that support students and staff from the LGBTQ2+ community.

In partnership with Health and Social Services, we are developing a renewed JK to Grade 9 Health and Wellness curriculum to address issues of mental health, healthy relationships, and the importance of physical activity. The curriculum will encourage teachers to build strengthened relationships between the school, the community and regional health, dental and mental health service providers, and other community organizations.

A key aspect of this new curriculum will be an increased emphasis on approaches to teaching and learning that rely on student research of community-identified wellness issues.

As a further investment in community wellness, the Small Community Employment Support Program enables residents to either receive training-on-the-job, or through the community initiatives which provides formal training or a combination of on-the-job and formal training. This program helps residents with employment, allowing them to contribute to their communities and the ability to provide for their families. In 2016-2017, 200 residents received training-on-the-job and 69 residents received training through community initiatives. The proposed $3 million investment, announced by the Minister of Finance in the budget speech, will allow us to target our investments to ensure we are meeting the needs of both our residents and of the Northwest Territories labour markets.

Mr. Speaker, senior citizens, the elders of our territory, have helped to build and grow the North, and we must support them to remain amongst their families and with their communities. At the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, we deliver two programs specifically in place to assist seniors: the Senior Home Heating Subsidy and the Senior Citizen Supplementary Benefit. The Senior Home Heating Subsidy ensures that lower income seniors, who own their own homes, receive a fuel subsidy that assists with the cost of heating their home. The Supplementary Benefit Program is a monthly pension for low-income seniors, to assist them with the cost of living, and allows them to age in place.

Mr. Speaker, community wellness and safety are paramount to the well-being and success of our residents and of the North. We and our partners across the territory have an obligation to ensure our residents have the opportunity to live healthy and productive lives in safe communities. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Justice.

Louis Sebert

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, our government has committed in its mandate to pursue innovative ways to prevent and reduce crime. The Department of Justice recognizes that, to make a difference, our response must address the root causes that lead an individual to break the law in the first place. Based on the disproportionate number of Aboriginal people in the justice system, we know any approach must also offer offenders the chance to reconnect with their culture and traditions. I would like to tell you today about a promising new program being delivered in our corrections service, and give you an idea of other work that Justice is doing to advance our commitment to reduce crime.

On examining the profiles of offenders in our facilities, it is clear that the most prevalent issue is substance abuse. Programming is available, but many of the programs take longer to complete than the average inmate spends in a facility. As a result, inmates are reaching their release date before they can finish our longer-term programs. As well, people who receive community sentences, and don't enter a corrections facility, are not able to benefit from the facility-based programs. I want to highlight a new program that attempts to address all of these issues.

The Substance Abuse Management program, or SAM, is designed to help inmates with shorter sentences, as well as those serving their sentence in the community. The SAM program model recognizes the importance of treating the person, not just the addiction. Sessions are presented in a non-judgmental, educational manner, allowing participants to focus on their learning, without having to be defensive about their history or current situation.

Participants are assisted to identify the triggers that most often lead them to abuse alcohol or drugs, as well as behaviours that they would otherwise try to avoid. They learn to apply this understanding to their daily lives. Offenders get help to develop a prevention plan that includes an inventory of resources that they can turn to as they continue their recovery.

The SAM program recognizes the importance of Aboriginal culture and traditions. Aboriginal liaison officers or elders attend the group session to assist participants, helping them reflect on their culture and learning. Currently, both the North Slave Correctional Complex and the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre offer the 12-session SAM program daily over a three-week period. There are plans to extend this program to the Fort Smith Correctional Complex in 2017-18.

The SAM program also extends support outside the walls of our correctional facilities. Inmates on probation who are returning to their community from a facility have support for successful reintegration, including the continuation of a program they know. Offenders who are serving their entire sentence in the community and have not been in a facility have an opportunity to access the SAM program helping them make positive changes.

To acknowledge some of the issues that returning offenders face, and to allow time for elders to be brought in to make important cultural connections, the community program is delivered over 12 weeks. At the end of these sessions, probation officers also connect participants with community supports available through Health and Social Services.

The SAM program is presently being delivered by probation staff to small groups of approximately five participants in Hay River, Fort Providence, and Yellowknife. Early indications are that this program is being very well received, and there are plans to expand it to the Inuvik probation office in the coming weeks.

This program does not stand alone. We currently have a range of supports for offenders in facilities and in the community. We will be adding more programs and continuing efforts to work with inmates to address the root causes of crime. We will also continue our important collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Services and with local and regional providers on the continuity of care for addictions and mental health services.

As Members are aware, culturally appropriate correctional programming is not the only commitment that has been made by this government. The Department of Justice is taking action to reduce crime through many paths. I want to highlight just a few other promising approaches.

Specialized courts in the NWT include the Wellness Court that sits in Yellowknife, and the Domestic Violence Treatment Options Court that accepts offenders from Yellowknife, Behchoko, Hay River, K'atlodeeche, and Enterprise. The Wellness Court has been sitting since October 2014, and as of mid-January a total of 63 individuals have been referred to the court. The Domestic Violence Treatment Options Court has also delivered encouraging results; as of this January, 79 individuals have participated in the program.

The Integrated Case Management pilot project in Yellowknife provides a holistic approach to supporting those in our community who are faced with a variety of complex needs. Participants are supported through a comprehensive assessment, and are assisted by their case manager to address these needs, including a lack of suitable housing or homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, and unemployment. Participants are referred by social program departments, and as of January, 103 individuals have been accepted into the program, with seven applicants currently being considered. The pilot project is under review with results expected by the end of March. I look forward to sharing the results with Members.

In other areas, I am pleased to report that policing action plans are in place in all NWT communities. These plans are a collaborative effort between the RCMP and local leadership. They work together to identify priorities specific to each community, as well as determining how best to address these issues.

The Government of the Northwest Territories also has a mandate commitment to improve access to justice. I can also report that progress has been made in collaboration with the Law Society to establish ongoing access to legal resources through a resource centre. As well, the Legal Aid Commission is continuing to offer outreach services in Yellowknife and across the NWT, with an expansion scheduled for this year that will enhance operating hours for the walk-in clinic, increase community visits, and introduce family law duty counsel services. These initiatives, along with efforts to reduce family violence and assist families who are separating or divorcing, are all part of the department’s overall commitment to improve access to justice and our response to crime.

I think that we all recognize that a social response to crime reduction takes resources and the concerted efforts of all levels of government, local agencies, and community members. We also know that, if we don’t address the root causes that lead to crime, we will continue to see some of the same people in the justice system again and again. Through these innovative programs and the support of this Legislative Assembly, we are making a difference. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Just in the nick of time.

---Laughter

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marci cho, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, [English translation not provided]. Mr. Speaker, Members, school boards, education authorities, and parents are seeking clarity when it comes to junior kindergarten.

We discussed these matters at length in the House last week. I don't want to tread over the same ground again but, Mr. Speaker, with so much information -- sometimes contradictory information is circulating -- I must briefly highlight three points.

First, the school boards and the education authorities face ongoing funding issues. NWT classrooms deal with higher pupil-teacher ratios than most of Canada even though our territory also has the second highest number of very small schools.

Second, NWT schools see higher rates for special needs accommodation. This kind of important educational work is covered under the NWT Ministerial Directive on Inclusive Schooling. This work needs inclusive schooling dollars, yet inclusive schooling dollars are not part of the department's plan for funding junior kindergarten.

That brings me to my third point. While the department has said it will fully fund junior kindergarten, it's not clear how or if this funding will account for inclusive schooling or Aboriginal language and culture instruction, among other things. I've also heard from residents concerned that cuts will be made to the education system up to $800,000. I understand too that the $500,000 found internally came from the education renewal initiative; that is, it's a further reduction to the K to 12 system. That's on top of the department's decision to fund non-teaching positions at mid-point instead of actual salaries.

As we heard in the House last week, school boards are approaching their budget deadlines. We are pleased to hear the department's final decision to fully fund junior kindergarten but, Mr. Speaker, the devil is in the details and we need to sort those out. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Cory Vanthuyne

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to address the cancellation of the social work program at Aurora College. We've heard that one justification for the decision is based on low numbers of graduates from the program, so perhaps the Minister believes that represents a poor return on public investment and therefore this program can hit the chopping block to meet reduction targets. On the other hand, enrolment has increased, which is an indication of how important and needed the program is.

In fact, low numbers of grads may be a problem within the program itself in that new social work students may not be equipped to meet the standards set for a diploma linked to the University of Regina undergrad program. Higher enrolment rates lead me to believe there's demand and popularity for the program. Low graduation rates lead me to think there is work to be done with student preparedness as they move through the program.

Beyond that, Mr. Speaker, let's consider the need for such a program. In today's NWT's society, social work is a fundamental human process in need. It's a core element of what our communities need to function better.

I recently received an e-mail from a constituent, a graduate of Aurora College's social work program. She wrote, and I quote, "I completed my first practicum at YHSSA with social workers with Master's degrees from southern schools who did not understand residential school, the effects of residential school. They did not even know the difference between someone who was Metis or Gwich'in. How are we expected to improve and grow in the North when we are not even offering the opportunity for growth? I know several students who recently enrolled and several more who are planning on doing so next year. They will now have to take their SFA loans from ECE and hand the money over to southern schools rather than putting the money back in to the North."

Mr. Speaker, with this decision our future social workers may be recruited and trained in southern Canada, so by definition they'll arrive here at the start of a new learning curve. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Cory Vanthuyne

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. I wonder, will southern students participate in week-long cultural camp, on the land, with elders? Will southern students know how empowering it is to participate in a feeding of the fire ceremony? Will graduates from southern schools understand the cultural barriers to northern social work? Will they have familiarity with the impact of residential schools here in the North? These questions are already answered when we support a made-in-the-North social work program.

Mr. Speaker, I find myself unable to support this decision and I urge the Minister of Education to review and re-evaluate this decision with some urgency. I will have questions for the Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Colleagues, I'd like to draw your attention to public in the gallery. We have with us Mr. Anthony W.J. Whitford, former commissioner, Speaker, Minister, Sergeant-at-Arms and honorary clerk of the Legislative Assembly.

We also have a former Member, Jane Groenewegen, Deputy Premier, Minister, Member of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th Legislative Assembly.

Last but not least we have Ms. Sandy Lee, former Minister and Member of the 14th, 15th, 16th Legislative Assembly. We have a total combined years of legislative experience 40-plus years. Masi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Thanks for being here with us. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Kieron Testart

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak on a terrible time in Canadian history and part of our national history that we must acknowledge, and I'm doing so today because of a recent court ruling that found in favour of those Indigenous peoples who were victimized by what is known now as the Sixties Scoop.

Mr. Speaker, the Sixties Scoop was wrong, a by-product of the ignorance of colonization, and those affected deserve to be compensated, and I'm pleased to see that the courts have ruled on the right side of history.

Mr. Speaker, the Sixties Scoop placed Indigenous children in non-Indigenous homes from 1965 to 1984 under terms of federal-provincial agreements. Some were sent from their traditional territory and families to places as far off as Europe or the southern United States. Some were purchased for up to $30,000 while others were given away callously as so-called freebies, and some were placed in the foster system, going from group to group, group home to group home, always alone and never knowing that they had those who loved them and wanted them awaiting them in their traditional homes. They were forced to give them up to a heartless and misguided policy.

Canadians can never apologize enough for the unnecessary pain caused by the Sixties Scoop, nor should we ever stop apologizing, but we can begin to take ownership of the wrongs committed on behalf of all of us by our government of the day and continue the process of reconciliation with Indigenous people affected by this and the legacy of colonization across the country. Courts will compensate them financially through this new ruling, that is clear, but we can do more.

We can assure that cultural identity will never again be stolen by misguided policies of colonial thinking. Through our education system, we can ensure that our teachers tell the truth of our history, even those parts that are difficult to hear. We can assist our social workers tasked with helping those dealing with the trauma from our own history and our own misguided policies, but we cannot begin to do this, Mr. Speaker, without ensuring that these initiatives for reconciliation are properly resourced and supported by this government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Paul Stipdonk Memorial Soccer Tournament. As I explained last year, this tournament is a bit unique in that they don't keep score, nor do they have winners or losers. The focus is on the athletes having fun and playing the sport. Besides playing the sport, the youth are given the opportunity to attend a couple of skills development sessions and a skills competition.

This year, we had athletes from Trout Lake; Fort Liard; Annex, Alberta; Grande Prairie, Alberta; Nahanni Butte; and Fort Simpson.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that parents and families of the athletes from out of town did an amazing job. They were great athletes, sportsmen, and ambassadors of the community. It was amazing to see all their smiling faces and the fun that they were having this weekend.

As well, I would like to say the Fort Simpson (Bompas) athletes were great hosts, great team players, and really enjoyed the games and, most importantly, making new friends from the region.

Mr. Speaker, it was great to see all the parents out there supporting all the teams. Whether it was the U14 division or the U12 division, it did not matter which team was playing. They were cheering on all the athletes and encouraging them on.

Mr. Speaker, a special shout-out goes to the recreation staff from TSS School and the TSS students and volunteers who ran the concession and meal program for the out-of-town athletes. A great job done by all.

I would like to thank the Fort Simpson High Performance Soccer players and parents who were helping with the coaching and refereeing throughout the weekend. It was great to see this capacity being built. I take great pride when I see younger athletes paying back to the sport. The same can be said about the young coaches and chaperones from Fort Liard, Chase Berrault, James Duntra, and Arlene McLeod, and Sambaa K’e's coaches, Beth Jumbo and Tyler Jumbo. I say a big thank you to you.

To the Mackenzie Recreation Association, Municipal and Community Affairs, and the Village of Fort Simpson, thank you for funding and supporting this event. Money well-invested.

In closing, a big special thank you to Jackie Whelly and Ashley Gillis for helping organize and running this whole tournament. Mr. Speaker, I would like to encourage my colleagues to give them a big round of applause. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, GNWT... [English translation not provided].

Mr. Speaker, access to affordable power is one of our biggest barriers to economic development and one of the main drivers of our cost of living.

Mr. Speaker, the Town of Hay River recently sought a new franchise agreement with an electrical power provider. This process led to the selection of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation. Whether NTPC takes over all of the assets of Northland Utilities, the town's current power provider in the region is unknown at this time. We also don't know what impact that may have on the Hay River Reserve, Enterprise, Kakisa, and Fort Providence. Deh Cho communities are concerned about who is going to keep the lights on.

Mr. Speaker, NTPC... [English translation not provided].

Mr. Speaker, the immediate concern of people in my riding is how they will continue to be supplied with electricity and at what cost. The PR campaign by NTPC and Northland Utilities on electricity rates affects consumers. It is adversarial, not constructive, and they don't know who to believe.

Mr. Speaker, small Deh Cho communities like Kakisa have potential to switch to renewable energy sources successfully, but that is only part of the puzzle.

Mr. Speaker, as leaders of the NWT, we have an immediate opportunity to make good decisions about the future of NTPC, the future of power provision in our territory, and how we communicate that to the public. For decades, we have needed energy solutions for our small, remote communities that fit into the specific long-term goals and future energy planning for the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, right now, Deh Cho communities need to be enlightened and want answers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Herbert Nakimayak

Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in 1984 the Inuvialuit Final Agreement became the Northwest Territories' first settled land claim.

It guarantees its members certain rights over a vast area of land that spans parts of the Mackenzie Delta, the Beaufort Sea, and the Amundsen Gulf. It includes the communities of Aklavik, Ulukhaktok, Inuvik, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, and Tuktoyaktuk. The people who have lived there for generations have the authority to govern matters such as wildlife harvesting rights, socio-economic initiatives, and Inuvialuit participation in wildlife and environmental management regimes.

The agreement was a major achievement for the people who worked tirelessly with the Government of Canada to negotiate the terms of this settlement. The Inuvialuit Final Agreement has set the example for land claim agreements that came after it.

The Inuvialuit received ownership to approximately 90,600 hectares of land, including 13 hectares of subsurface rights. Beneficiaries received $152 million in capital transfer payments from the Government of Canada, which helped establish the Inuvialuit settlement region as we know it today.

The Inuvialuit have certain wildlife harvesting rights in the region, including the exclusive right to harvest game and furbearers on Inuvialuit lands.

Mr. Speaker, the rights of Canada's First Nations to govern their traditional lands on their terms is an extremely important area of focus for the Government of the Northwest Territories. Settling land claim agreements has long been a top priority, and we must continue to work toward the goal of settling land claims throughout the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the Inuvialuit, Canada, and the Government of the Northwest Territories are currently negotiating a full self-government agreement. Beneficiaries are working toward the goal of this self-government becoming a reality.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage the ongoing efforts in this area and want to accomplish all we possibly can in the term of the 18th Legislative Assembly. Quyanainni, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, during the last sitting I drew the Assembly's attention to the findings of a report by YWCA Yellowknife. It's called "Hush Hush No More: Improving NWT Community Response to Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls." I pointed out a number of the report's troubling findings and its recommendations for improvements. The report documents a continuing culture of secrecy and non-disclosure surrounding violence. It's hush-hush when fewer than 10 per cent of victims report what happened to them to the police. Without reporting, victims say they feel powerless and blame themselves for what happened. To change this outcome, the report says it's important to non-judgmentally support people who disclose sexual violence, and government departments need to effectively respond to victims who report being assaulted.

Recently, a local woman came to me with her story of physical and sexual assault, of the intimidation she has suffered from her accused attacker, and of the ineffective response by police and the court. Despite being released on condition of staying away from her, the accused has repeatedly harassed and intimidated her. She has reported to the police about being intimidated a total of four times. The result? Nothing. The conditions of release are violated. The victim complains. The abuser continues to walk the streets.

I'll quote a few of the remarks given to me describing this situation:

"When I started this whole process of going to the police due to domestic violence, I was assured protection. I was naive. I didn't realize on how many levels I was not going to receive protection and feel victimized repeatedly."

Here is another quote:

"The people who are in place to protect me are sick of my reporting to them. I hear it in their voices. I see it in their eyes. I, in turn, am sick of being treated like a chronic complainer."

Another quote: "I now wish I had not gone to the police because the system's gross insensitivity towards the victim now makes me feel more vulnerable than ever."

Finally:

"Despite their 'domestic violence is a crime and we can help' posters that are everywhere, I cannot in good conscience send some poor vulnerable woman there because they will be more exposed than ever."

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, colleagues. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Hush hush no more. It is hard to imagine a more damning indictment of the protection of victims. When a victim who reports is made to feel a nuisance, when conditions of release are violated with no consequence, enforcement practices must change. I will have questions for the Justice Minister. Mahsi.