Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When the 18th Assembly began, we had high hopes for the completion of land rights agreements, enough so that we enshrined the commitment in our mandate.
Mr. Speaker, I have said it several times in this Chamber: many of our priority areas cannot go forward until land rights agreements are resolved. Without them, we cannot move on many areas of economic diversification and growth; our goals in health, social just, and education are delayed; we will be set back in developing tourism, resolving land use questions, and dealing with a whole host of other public matters.
The Northwest Territories needs these agreements in place. With certainty on land rights and self-government in place, communities and regions will be able to build their own priorities, grow their own economies, and put their own people to work. They will see a future. For our system to work, we must empower Indigenous governments with authority to achieve self-determination.
Mr. Speaker, we are now at the end of the 18th Assembly. While some positive progress has been made, none of the major agreements, the Deh Cho, the Akaitcho, and Metis, have been concluded. This is not the outcome any of us had hoped for.
That said, we know it is a complex and detailed job and not always completely under our control. Indeed, I offer my respect and appreciation to the people charged with the task. I think it's fair to say it is the biggest challenge facing public governance in our territory, and, as we know, this has been going on for a lifetime. Northerners know how important these agreements are. They know what depends on fair resolution of these issues, and, like all of us in this House, they want to see this job done. They want certainty.
Mr. Speaker, these issues will not go away. The job of negotiating and seeking solutions on the remaining land rights and self-government agreements will now fall to the Members of the 19th Assembly. Without question, it will be one of their highest priorities, and, Mr. Speaker, I know it will remain one of mine. Thank you.