Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Hunting has a long and honourable history in the Northwest Territories. At the heart of this tradition is a deep respect for the wildlife, the environment and the people of this land. Residents of the Northwest Territories have told us they want to make sure these values and practices are passed on to the next generation of harvesters.
During the 18th Legislative Assembly, this government made a commitment to the people of the Northwest Territories to develop a Hunter Education program for youth and new hunters. This new program promotes best practices for safe and responsible hunting. It also highlights how the Department of Environment and Natural Resources works with partners across the territory to manage and protect our wildlife.
Mr. Speaker, as we begin the 19th Legislative Assembly, I am pleased to announce Hunter Education is now available across the Northwest Territories. You can find it online, free of charge, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources website. For those who prefer to learn in a classroom setting, the course can be offered in communities, by request.
This program has been years in the making, and reflects a true partnership between:
- Local and Indigenous governments and organizations;
- Co-management boards and agencies;
- Communities, elders, hunters; and
- The Government of the Northwest Territories.
Hunter Education respects the treaty and harvesting rights of Indigenous hunters, and has been carefully designed to reflect input from Indigenous governments and communities.
Mr. Speaker, as of January 1st, Hunter Education will be mandatory for new hunters before they can get their hunting licences. This includes resident hunters, and non-resident hunters without a guide. Hunters who have been convicted of violations under the Wildlife Act may also be required to take the course.
Hunter Education is not a requirement for General Hunting Licence holders or for harvesters asserting their Aboriginal rights. Hunters who have had a hunting licence in the last five years, or have taken a similar course in other jurisdictions, also don't have to take the course. That being said, we recommend all harvesters take Hunter Education, regardless of experience. Even the most seasoned hunters can benefit from the wisdom of elders and long-time hunters that is reflected in this program.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources remains committed to working with Indigenous governments and organizations, renewable resources boards, and other partners to ensure the wise use and protection of wildlife in the Northwest Territories.
Our hope is that the knowledge shared through hunter education can help keep our wildlife populations healthy and sustainable so the people of the Northwest Territories can harvest now and into the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.