This is page numbers 709 - 738 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 going.

Topics

Dredging in Hay River
Members' Statements

March 13th, 2020

Page 710

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. With permission from the Member for Hay River North, I am going to use a good part of a previous statement he made on dredging.

Mr. Speaker, the build-up of sediments in the Port of Hay River has reached a critical level. The federal government used to dredge the waterways around Hay River and at points in the Mackenzie River. That program ended in the early 1990s, and virtually nothing has been done since. The result is that tugs are dragging barges through silt, boats are being damaged, and sport and commercial fishermen are finding it unsafe. I am aware that dredging is the federal government's responsibility as that has been the answer that previous Ministers have provided over and over again. Regardless of whose responsibility it is, it is in our backyard, so, as far as I am concerned, it's our problem and we have to do something about it.

Mr. Speaker, safe marine operating conditions are vital to maintaining and growing the South Slave economy. The Port of Hay River is the largest inland port in Western Canada. It is home to a Canadian Coast Guard base, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and our own marine transportation service. It is part of the reason that the Town of Hay River exists, so it's shocking that we have let this condition worsen each year.

Our priorities contain a bold vision for the NWT's economy, which includes the fishing industry. The problem is that, if the fishermen cannot get to the fish because the port is too shallow and unsafe, then we do not have an industry. It's as simple as that. Hay River has also a growing tourist industry with amazing potential. With our southern proximity and access, the town could be a destination for recreational boaters and sport fishers, and, in fact, there are businesses making investments in the market right now. Mr. Speaker, without action on dredging, that opportunity will be lost.

The vitality of our shipping industry and the cost of goods up the Mackenzie are also directly and negatively impacted by our lack of action. This problem has consequences beyond Hay River. As each year passes and the sediment builds, the risk of flooding grows greater. From what I could tell, the previous government did little more than provide a weak argument to the federal government to dredge the harbour, which has gotten us nowhere. I urge this government to address the dredging issue during the term of this Assembly. What we need is more action and less finger-pointing. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Dredging in Hay River
Members' Statements

Page 710

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Members' statements. Item 9, returns to oral questions. Okay, colleagues, I will go back to Members' statements, but please put up your hand so that we mark you down. We will carry on with the Member for Thebacha.

Eulogy for Betty Mason
Members' Statements

Page 711

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry because I thought I had to be last because part of my Member's statement is a eulogy. Okay. Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight the Wood Buffalo National Park today. This park was established 98 years ago to protect the declining number of wood bison. It is approximately 45,000 square kilometres and is the largest park in Canada and the second-largest park in the world. It is listed as a UNESCO heritage site. According to the UNESCO website, "UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in education, the sciences and culture. UNESCO's programs contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development
Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015." UNESCO has approximately 1,100 heritage sites worldwide, with 20 being in Canada, one of which is the Wood Buffalo National Park.

Mr. Speaker, Fort Smith is called "the gateway to Wood Buffalo National Park." Every year, tourists arrive to visit this park. Numbers of visitors have increased over the years, from approximately 1,600 to 3,900 in 2019.

The Wood Buffalo National Park offers a variety of experiences to tourists, including:

  1. a Dark Sky Festival that takes place every August; in 2013 the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada designated the Wood Buffalo National Park as the world's largest dark-sky preserve;
  2. two wetland sites that are considered of international significance, one of which is the nesting grounds of the whooping crane and the other being the Peace-Athabasca Delta. Both provide important wetlands for migrating and nesting fowl;
  3. snake pits that offer viewers to see garter snakes migrate from wintering caves;
  4. hiking trails that offer a variety of unique landscapes;
  5. off-the-grid camping experiences; and
  6. salt plains created by ancient seas.

Mr. Speaker, this heritage site is accessible through Fort Smith and is a hidden gem and could easily be promoted as an incredible tourist destination for the NWT. I encourage everyone to check out this wonderful park at some point in their travels, either in Fort Smith or anywhere in the Northwest Territories. Furthermore, I would like to wish all of the staff at the Wood Buffalo National Park office a great weekend and for all of my constituents of Fort Smith to have an enjoyable weekend at the Wood Buffalo Frolics Festival. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to finish my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted.

Eulogy for Betty Mason
Members' Statements

Page 711

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, the town of Fort Smith is saddened by the passing of Mrs. Betty Mason. Betty was well known for the years she worked at the town hall, including when my husband Peter was mayor. Betty was a huge presence in the community, and, after retiring from the town office, she worked at Kaeser's Stores, where everyone was greeted with a smile and a laugh. Betty was well known for her great sense of humour, and everyone was a target of teasing, no matter who you were.

Betty was loved by all and will be sadly missed by her St. John's Anglican Church family and the town of Fort Smith. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to her daughter, Linda, and her grandson, Carson, and all of her extended Fort Smith family. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Eulogy for Betty Mason
Members' Statements

Page 711

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Mineral Resources
Members' Statements

Page 711

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. The review of the Mineral Resources Act involved a four-and-a-half-hour clause-by-clause review and six hours in Committee of the Whole. To say it was contentious would be a huge understatement.

The Mineral Resources Act is not about promoting mining. It's about setting up a system for mineral rights management. The bill was supposed to be about trying to balance a complex set of rights and interests. Significant improvements included notice to Indigenous governments of mining claims and exploration work. There may be requirements for benefit agreements with Indigenous governments before a mine can go under production. Regular MLAs worked very hard to get some further improvements, but many were rejected.

The bill failed to recognize the legitimate interests of community governments in protecting their lands and infrastructure. There is no precision or clarity when it comes to public benefits, as there are no triggers or details on those benefits. The ill-defined zones are bad public policy and likely to create a race to the bottom, where different regions are incentivized to lower standards to try to attract investment.

There is virtually unfettered discretion for the Minister and Cabinet over the development of regulations. Regulations will cover very significant areas of public interest, including royalties, the definition of work to keep rights in good standing, map staking, and more.

There have been at least two public presentations on the next steps of the Mineral Resources Act; one of the Geoscience Forum in November of 2019 and another at an event sponsored by Alternatives North in late January 2020. Regular MLAs have yet to receive a briefing from the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment on this topic.

Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done to begin to implement to Mineral Resources Act. Ontario took about 10 years to fully implement its new legislation with a suite of regulations and policy. What I'm looking for from the Minister, and the public deserves, including the mining industry, is a clear plan. Everyone needs clear timelines and opportunities for public engagement in the development of numerous sets of regulations that will be required to implement the Mineral Resources Act. I'll have questions later today for the Premier on the next steps for the Mineral Resources Act. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Mineral Resources
Members' Statements

Page 711

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Made-in-the-North Arts Curriculum
Members' Statements

Page 711

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, I spoke about mental health triage for our children. Today, I would like to focus on how we can help grow resilient children. Adolescence is a challenging time. Teens' bodies are changing as their minds are expanding. In addition to school and home pressures, teens are expected to travel the rocky roads of self-discovery and self-expression as they prepare for life after high school.

We do have NGOs like the YWCA, Rainbow Coalition of the NWT, FOXY/Smash, Northern Youth, community governments, and local sports associations working hard with volunteers to offer leadership, self-esteem, and physical activity programming for youth. As we grow our mental healthcare supports and processes, we also need to continue to evolve how we are helping youth build their resiliency toolbox.

Mr. Speaker, art has always been a part of my life. Art is a powerful connector. It connects people to one another, land, and culture. Art therapy can be used as a complement to traditional mental health treatment, where the aim is to manage behaviour, process feelings, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase self-esteem. Studies show that creating art stimulates the release of dopamine, the chemical released when we do something pleasurable and literally makes us feel happier.

We live in a unique part of the world, Mr. Speaker. Our arts and crafts are celebrated by locals and foreigners alike, and our need for cultural resurgence throughout our society is prevalent. NWT schools currently follow Saskatchewan's arts curriculum for grades one through nine, and Alberta's for grades 10 through 12. The Saskatchewan curriculum was last updated in 2011, whereas the Alberta arts curriculum was last updated in 2015.

Mr. Speaker, it is time for a made-in-the-North arts curriculum that allows us to continue building mental health supports and self-discovery tools for our youth. A made-in-the-North arts curriculum would celebrate cultural resurgence through Northern art, promote self-discovery, and help us continue to evolve the way we work at building healthy communities. It would also enable us to tap into the network of talented northern artists that already live and create here. Today, I would like to hear from the Minister of ECE about the work that the department is doing to support the arts, and whether or not they are prepared to entertain a made-in-the-North arts curriculum. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Made-in-the-North Arts Curriculum
Members' Statements

Page 711

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Kam Lake.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 711

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to recognize Kam Lake residents seven-year-old Prudence Kalnay-Watson and her mother Sarah. Prudence is here on her day off and her first day of March Break to learn about consensus government. Thank you.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 711

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 711

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank my constituent Sophia Lagenais(ph) for being a Page in the Assembly during this sitting, and I would like to thank all the Pages for the work they've done for us. Thank you.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 711

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Nunakput.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 711

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, I rise to welcome my Pages from Sachs Harbour, Tony and Rylan. Thank you for doing a good job here this week. I really enjoyed having them in the House, here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 711

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. If we have missed anyone in the gallery, I'd like to welcome you all to the Chamber. It's always great to have an audience with us today, and thank you to all the Pages for all the work you've done over the last week. A lot of help you've been for the Members, and we really appreciate it. Thank you. Item 6, acknowledgements. Item 7, oral questions. Member for Nunakput.