This is page numbers 1653 - 1688 of the Hansard for the 19th 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 indigenous.

Topics

Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway
Members' Statements

Page 1657

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Indigenous Representation within the Government of the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

Page 1657

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Madam Speaker, on Monday, I spoke of the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on women. When I asked the Premier what an Indigenous feminist approach to social and economic recovery would look like, she responded that there would not be a one-size-fits-all approach and that each community would be empowered to determine what that looks like. This is good news, but it does not explain what steps the GNWT is taking to make changes regarding the bills it sponsors, the regulations it develops, the programs and services it delivers directly to the residents of the Northwest Territories, and how it hires people into the public service.

This government made a commitment in this House to work on an action plan to support the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report. The calls for justice identify the need for an approach to undo colonialism and re-establish Indigenous nationhood. It calls on government to work differently by challenging colonial influence and making space for marginalized Indigenous perspectives. Specifically, 4.4 calls on all governments to provide supports and resources for educational, training, and employment opportunities for all Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

Madam Speaker, representation is important. This government decides on programs, services, laws, and regulations that are meant to support, empower, and protect its residents. For this work to be effective and reflective of northern realities, the demographic of this government's workforce needs to include small community, regional, and city voices, and it needs to include representative Indigenous and female voices.

Forty-four years ago, Commissioner Stuart Hodgson published a paper identifying the GNWT's need for an Affirmative Action Policy because the Indigenous representation within the GNWT was only 30 percent. Today, we have an Affirmative Action Policy, and today, only 30 percent of the GNWT workforce is Indigenous. The Department of Finance has designed programs to increase Indigenous representation within the public service. For example, Indigenous Career Gateway, regional recruitment, and Indigenous management training programs are available to all GNWT departments, but what direction is given to departments to use these programs, and what role does every department play in increasing Indigenous representation and, in turn, supporting the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls for justice?

Increasing Indigenous representation is the shared responsibility of all departments, just as the safety of Indigenous women and girls is shared by every single one of us, regardless of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, or gender identity. Today, I will have questions for the Premier at the appropriate time. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Indigenous Representation within the Government of the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

Page 1657

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Francophone School Admissions
Members' Statements

Page 1657

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Madame la Presidente.

[Translation] In August, the Minister of Education brought an end to years of confrontation and uncertainty for French language students and families by rescinding the Ministerial Directive on Admissions for French language schools. The Directive was too long the basis for a series of costly legal actions, and was replaced with new regulations governing admission to First French language schools.

The new regulations were warmly greeted by the Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest, which manages École Allain St-Cyr in Yellowknife and École Boreale in Hay River. Finally CSFTNO has been delegated authority school admissions with appropriate reporting. The regulations broaden eligibility with a “reaquisition” stream—admission of students who can show their great-grandparents were Francophone, and for children of “Francophile” parents within agreed upon limits.

Three students have been enrolled this year under the new regulations and six students who are the subject of the ongoing court case have been tentatively admitted and will remain students pending the outcome of the appeals. It's not clear why GNWT continues with its appeals.

Overall though, the new Minister last year has brought renewed collaboration between the board and the department and I congratulate him and CSFTNO.

I will have questions later today for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment on some issues still facing CSFTNO and its schools. [Translation ends]

Francophone School Admissions
Members' Statements

Page 1658

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

First Nations Hiring
Members' Statements

Page 1658

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Madam Speaker. I understand the current Government of the Northwest Territories Affirmative Action Policy began around 1976 and was related to a report from the Commissioner of the day, the late Stuart Hodgson. The report was the Hodgson Report, and it set out to achieve training positions for Native Northerners in order to meet the objective of increased Aboriginal employment in the public service. This led to the creation of the Office of Native Employment. That office developed a discussion paper in which it was noted the difficulty in employing Aboriginal people in numbers reflective to the ratio to the general population.

In 1984, the then Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, the late John Parker, commissioned a discussion paper, the Parker Report, which recommended the development of a Native employment policy. The report also noted concerns with the constitutionality of an affirmative action program directed specifically for Aboriginal people born and raised in the Northwest Territories. The report notes that the Canadian Human Rights Commission raised concerns that the Affirmative Action Policy could be challenged under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Madam Speaker, in 1985, the Native Employment Policy recommended increasing Aboriginal representation in the public service from 30 percent to 52 percent by 1990. It was noted by a review in 1989 was that the increase was only two percent from the years 1985 to 1989. Madam Speaker, the report of the day by another firm indicated most government jobs back in 1989 only required a grade 10 education and noted that the majority of Native people had less than grade nine education. The report also goes on to state 48 percent of today's GNWT jobs require a university degree, not only about six percent of the Aboriginal population had a university degree.

Madam Speaker, I would like to point out that in the many meetings with the senior management teams of the GNWT that I was involved with, I did not see any First Nations people amongst them. Mahsi, Madam Speaker.

First Nations Hiring
Members' Statements

Page 1658

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statement. Member for Yellowknife North.

Government of the Northwest Territories Affirmative Action Policy
Members' Statements

Page 1658

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I appreciate my colleague, the Member for Deh Cho, bringing up the history of this because I think the Affirmative Action Policy is a white elephant. A white elephant is a possession that its maintenance is out of proportion to its usefulness. The Affirmative Action Policy, after decades, has failed to deliver on its promises. Indigenous employment remains at 30 percent. Even P2s, which are unconstitutional according to various reports, have not increased. They remain at 12 percent in the GNWT. I think what's happened is: consecutive GNWT governments have looked at this report, seeing that risk of a Charter challenge and gone, better just not touch that. Better leave it there. The reality is: we are open to that Charter challenge any time. Anyone at any time who is not hired by the GNWT and thinks that the Affirmative Action Policy discriminated them can bring a Charter challenge. It's likely a losing case according to the reports.

I believe this Assembly needs to finally address this problem, and it's not a popular solution. I think everyone in this room recognizes there's a value to people born in the North working in a public service. Indigenous people, I think, want to hire Indigenous people born in the North, not just Indigenous people, period, which is likely what the Charter would uphold. There are some unpopular decisions to be made here, but we have to make them. We have to make sure we have an Affirmative Action Policy that actually works because it's not working right now.

I recognize that the labour force and the needs of the GNWT do not align, and in many ways, our Affirmative Action Policy is trying to address a symptom. We must do more to educate our citizens. I believe the work of the polytechnic can make sure we are producing more university degrees. I also recognize we are not the only game in town. Many Indigenous people would prefer to work for their Indigenous government. It's largely more exciting work.

When I hear that, I struggle, because when I look across the GNWT, I see powers and mandates that shouldn't belong in the GNWT, that should be devolved to Indigenous governments. I think there are multiple solutions here. One is building our education capacity. One is setting clear targets. I want to walk away from this Assembly, and if it's 30 percent and we get to 33 percent, at least we made a little progress. We need to set clear targets, and we need to work with our Indigenous governments to once and for all get an Affirmative Action Policy that works and is legal. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Government of the Northwest Territories Affirmative Action Policy
Members' Statements

Page 1659

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members statements. Member for Great Slave.

Recognition of Jack Penney
Members' Statements

Page 1659

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am going to deviate a little bit from the theme today. Instead, I would like to recognize a constituent of the District of Great Slave, 10-year-old Jack Penney.

This year, Jack submitted his film "Eat Your Carrots" to the NWT-based Dead North Film Festival. "Eat Your Carrots" is a fantasy horror short that was written and directed by Jack when he was only nine years old. Jack is currently in grade five at Ecole J.H. Sissons School and, in his spare time, is an avid reader and snowboarder. He's also the best big brother to his sister, Lucy Dandelion.

Jack faced many challenges during the filming of "Eat Your Carrots," which included his cat, Pixie, stealing his Lego pieces as well as the difficulty of filming in the North in March. Jack's film was such a hit at the festival that it won the Zombear Award for the best death scene. This involved blowing up a snowman, and our own Legislative Assembly Clerk, Michael Ball, contributed his explosives expertise for this scene.

Recently, "Eat Your Carrots" was picked up as an official selection of the national, Toronto-based "Blood in the Snow Film Festival," which is currently being hosted and aired on Super Channel until November 8th. Jack is also planning on submitting his film to the Dawson City Film Festival.

Jack's cinematic success at such a young age is a good example of how the NWT strives to foster its creative community. This winter there will be many virtual events taking place which will allow everyone to attend, not just those lucky enough to get a ticket as often has been the case in the past. For example, the Yellowknife International Film Festival runs from today, November 4th to November 8th and anyone can attend from the comfort of their homes with no need to get out of their sweats. While the Dead North Film Festival will not take place this year, there is still funding available through the GNWT for artists. In fact, in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, there is $250,000 up for grabs for the creative industries. This funding is open to several artistic arenas, including performance, Indigenous cultural works, film, and visual arts. I strongly encourage all northern artists to apply.

In conclusion, I would again like to congratulate Jack Penney on his cinematic success on the national stage as he has a very bright future ahead of him, and I'm proud to call him my constituent and my neighbour. Thank you.

Recognition of Jack Penney
Members' Statements

Page 1659

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.

Indigenous Representation within the Government of the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

Page 1659

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Masi, Madam Speaker. [Translation] There are a lot of workers in the Northwest Territories. There are approximately 5,000 employees. Not only that, but we have a lot of workers all over the place, Indigenous and Inuit, Metis people. They are hired by who they are, and sometimes in the Northwest Territories, people are hired differently. [Translation ends] [Microphone turned off] ...single source of work in the Northwest Territories. It is the largest single employer of the Indigenous people. That makes our government absolutely essential for informing the policies of Indigenous people. No matter how you look at it, our Indigenous people look to our government for work and opportunity.

Madam Speaker, it's not only to keep food on tables of our Dene, Inuvialuit, and Metis people. It's also to ensure that our government reflects on the values and cultures of our people. This is why I'm so troubled by the current underrepresentation of the Indigenous people of our government. Indigenous people make up 50 percent of this population of the Northwest Territories, but they make up only 30 percent of the GNWT workforce. It's been stuck at the low rate for so long, Madam Speaker, decades and decades. It's time that our government got serious about fixing this disparity. It's time that we tackle the root cause.

This talk about education, because education is the key to employment and, as we all know, Indigenous Northerners trail behind non-Indigenous on the education front, both in high school and post-secondary. Until we deal with this education gap, the deck will remain stacked against the Indigenous seeking work in our government. Some people think the education gap will not be solved in our lifetime. They think it's big, too big, too complex, but Madam Speaker, they're totally wrong. Break a big problem down to component parts, it's not a big problem at all. The education gap is no different. It is underrepresented of our people in our government.

Madam Speaker, here is a real example drawn from this government's stats. The problem of underrepresentation is really a huge challenge of male representation. Female representation in the GNWT is within acceptable limits. In fact, Indigenous male employment, that's the culprit. They have half the employment rate of women. Indigenous men make up nine percent of total GNWT workforce. Nine percent, Madam Speaker. I will have questions to the Minister of Finance pertaining to this. Masi.

Indigenous Representation within the Government of the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

Page 1660

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Range Lake.

Eulogy for Max Ward
Members' Statements

November 4th, 2020

Page 1660

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Madam Speaker, Max Ward was born on November 22, 1921, in Edmonton, Alberta. In 1940, Max joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and received his pilot's wings in 1941. Max worked as an instructor at various training bases during the Second World War until its end in 1945. After being discharged from the air force, Max received his commercial pilots licence and began his flying career as a bush pilot in Yellowknife.

In 1946, Max started Polaris Charter Company Ltd., carrying passengers throughout the Arctic, including prospectors and supplies into mining exploration camps. In 1948, Max and George Pigeon formed Yellowknife Airways, combining their two aircraft into one company. Max moved to Alberta after liquidating his share in 1949. It wasn't the last the North saw of Max, Madam Speaker. In 1953, he acquired a 14-passenger single-engine Otter and launched Wardair Ltd. into commercial service.

Madam Speaker, Max Ward revolutionized the aviation industry in Canada's North. Wardair expanded every year, and in 1957, he purchased the company's first heavy aircraft, a Bristol Freighter, and eventually made the first landing of an aircraft on wheels at the Geographic North Pole. In 1966, Wardair became the third major Canadian carrier to offer a pure jet aircraft when they purchased the Boeing 727, the first ever in Canada. By 1973, they had become Canada's largest international air charter carrier, but times change and Max sold the company in 1989 to Pacific Western Airlines, bringing an end to one of the greatest chapters in the history of Canadian aviation.

The impact Max had on the Canadian aviation industry has been immeasurable, Madam Speaker. He was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974, was awarded the Order of Canada in 1975, and was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1989, amongst a host of other awards. Max helped blaze the trail for generations of pilots to explore the world around them and to find a home in the North, where they could fly one of the most unique aviation experiences in the world today. Madam Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Eulogy for Max Ward
Members' Statements

Page 1660

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Max passed away peacefully on November 2, 2020, in Edmonton, Alberta at 98 years of age. His contribution to the Northwest Territories will forever be remembered. Thank you, Madam Speaker.