Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I believe the Department of Lands is the single most important department in the GNWT. Now, I think many would laugh at that. I think perhaps even the Department of Lands might laugh at that, Mr. Speaker, but whether it be land claims, on-the-land healing, agricultural land, municipal control of land, land tenure so people can get mortgages or insurance, our own residents' spiritual connection to the land, increasing mineral exploration on withdrawn land, or habitat protection for caribou, land lies at the heart of many of our solutions. Yet, the Department of Lands presently has a broken mandate. They do not have control over many of these items, and EIA is busy at the negotiating table such that they are not given the proper attention. This is a call to our Cabinet to make a comprehensive strategy for how we approach land in this territory and, in many cases, how we give that land back.
Mr. Speaker, recently Deninu K'ue First Nation got a cease-and-desist letter for trying to build a mini-putt and RV course on a parcel of withdrawn land, a parcel of withdrawn land that, in all likelihood, will be given back to them once they settle a land claim the size of New Brunswick. Now, I recognize there are competing interests between the Metis and the Deninu K'ue First Nation, and I don't wish to weigh in on that. I recognize the complexity of resolving these issues in the NWT, and many times it can be hard to figure out who even comes to the table, let alone who we give the land back to. Yet, trying to separate the issue of building an RV park and settling one of the largest land claims in Canadian history needs to be done.
These are clear and distinct issues. The Department of Lands needs to create a process for transferring lands to Indigenous governments outside of the comprehensive land claim process. We are doing this for municipalities; I believe we need to do it for Indigenous governments. We need to, once and for all, settle the land tenure issue. Many residents simply cannot own their home or own the land it is on and get access to insurance and mortgages in this territory. I believe we need to set out a process such that Indigenous residents can own land in fee simple. This is one of the main issues for the Housing Corporation. It is one of the main issues for municipalities.
Now, Mr. Speaker, land use planning in this territory is a Gordian knot. However, Alexander broke the Gordian knot by taking a sword to it, and I encourage the Minister of Lands to come up with a comprehensive land strategy and break that Gordian knot. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.