This is page numbers 521 - 556 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

Members Present

Hon. Frederick Blake Jr, Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Green, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Hon. Katrina Nokleby, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Diane Thom, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 521

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

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

Minister's Statement 30-19(2): International Women's Day
Ministers' Statements

Page 521

Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to acknowledge International Women's Day. International Women's Day is held annually on March 8th to celebrate women and girls' social, cultural, and political achievements throughout history, across nations, and to raise awareness about the work left to be done. The theme of this year's International Women's Day is Because of You.

As Minister responsible for the Status of Women, and on behalf of all of Cabinet, I can proudly say that we are committed to continuing to work actively, achieving gender equality throughout our society. The theme Because of You celebrates women who work at advancing gender equality in all areas of our society for women and girls. The theme also asks Canadians to honour role models in their own lives.

Here in the Northwest Territories, we have many examples of outstanding role models who have made a difference. The Honourable Nellie Cournoyea is one such role model. She served as Premier from 1991 to 1995. She was not only the first female Premier of the Northwest Territories, she was the first female Indigenous Premier elected and the second female Premier to serve in Canada's history.

Another role model is Ethel Blondin-Andrew, who continues to advocate on behalf of the Sahtu and represented the people of the Northwest Territories as the first Indigenous woman elected to the Parliament of Canada. The late Bertha Allen, who co-founded the NWT Native Women's Association, was also a very important role model for many, as she fought tirelessly for social change and the advancement of Indigenous women and girls.

Another example of a Northern woman who stands as our role model includes Lyda Fuller, a long-time executive director of the YWCA right here in Yellowknife. Ms. Fuller is a nationally recognized advocate for women and girls. She is a strong voice in the fight against family violence, homelessness, and poverty. Another example is Leela Gilday, who is a well-known recording artist who not only incorporates but celebrates her Indigenous heritage in her music. These are just a few examples of strong women role models who we have here in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, these women, along with many others, have worked hard to achieve their goals and to make a difference in their communities and in the North. Some are prominent figures and some work quietly behind the scenes. However they choose to achieve their goals, they are making a difference, and they are creating change. It is only right that we should acknowledge and celebrate the difference that they are making.

In keeping with this year's theme, I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and honour my esteemed female colleagues sitting with us in this House. Each of us, individually, when we decided to put our names forth to become a Member of this Legislative Assembly, sent a message that women can be effective leaders, that we can make a difference, and that we were willing to do the job required to make positive change. Being willing to pursue an elected position is not one decision we make lightly. There are many challenges that women face when seeking a leadership role. Role models inspire us to take on these leadership roles, and I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to those women who inspire each of us in one way or another.

Mr. Speaker, the voters in the Northwest Territories set an example for the rest of Canada when they elected nine women to the Legislative Assembly, which created the first gender-balanced Legislature in Canada's history. We should be proud of this achievement, and we should continue to work every day to achieve gender equity. We must work together to move this forward.

I invite all Members of the Legislative Assembly to join me in recognizing International Women's Day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 30-19(2): International Women's Day
Ministers' Statements

Page 521

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

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister's Statement 31-19(2): Phase One: Strengthening the Foundation of Aurora College and Planning for Change
Ministers' Statements

Page 521

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, the transformation of Aurora College into a world-class polytechnic university is well under way. As the Legislative Assembly is aware, the transformation will happen in three phases. We are currently in Phase One, which is what I want to talk about today. Phase One is focused on strengthening the foundation of the existing college, ensuring we understand the detailed steps ahead of us, and determining what we, as a territory, want the polytechnic university to be.

The first step in Phase One was the development of a vision for postsecondary education. This vision was developed with direct input from the public, Indigenous governments, and postsecondary institutions operating in the Northwest Territories. The vision is that "every resident of the Northwest Territories has an equitable opportunity to reach their full potential by obtaining a post-secondary education from institutions that are student-centered, accessible, high-quality, relevant, and accountable."

To help realize this vision, five goals were developed:

  • prioritize students' success;
  • increase access to post-secondary education opportunities;
  • remain responsive to labour demands in the Northwest Territories;
  • remain responsive to local and regional needs; and
  • support the growth of the knowledge economy.

The vision and goals will help guide us as we make decisions, as will the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The transformation is a collaborative effort. The joint executive leadership committee from the Aurora College and Education, Culture and Employment is responsible for leading the transformation within Aurora College, supported by working groups made up of Aurora College employees.

Much of the work that has already been completed and is currently under way is focused on strengthening the foundations of the college.

A comprehensive policy review is being undertaken, to ensure that the college's policies and processes meet national standards. A highlight of this work is the recently developed and adopted Academic Program Review Framework, which conforms to the standards outlined in the Council of Ministers of Educations' Ministerial Statement on Quality Assurance of Degree Education in Canada. This replaced a previous program review process, which fell short in areas of quality assurance and did not ensure reviews were conducted at arm's length.

To support this type of work, as well as other aspects of the transformation, Phase One has also seen the creation of an Academic Advisory Council. This body, made up eight highly regarded academic institutions with relevant experience, provides support and guidance on the technical aspects of transformation.

We are also re-envisioning what it means to be learning-centred, by identifying what we already do well and developing additional, innovative solutions to support students. This is being accomplished by setting service standards for all phases of a student's lifecycle, starting at the point that a student wants to consider applying to the college and continuing through the application process, the transition to college life, the time spent as a student, program completion, and transitioning out of the college and into the job market.

To further support the student experience, the college just launched a new student information system. This gives students, for the first time, the ability to apply for programs, select classes, check marks, and access their information online. This is a major milestone for the college and brings it in line with other major academic institutions across the country. On the back end, this system will also provide the college with up-to-date data that will help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the college and the student experience.

Mr. Speaker, the student experience can vary greatly, depending on what you are studying and where you are studying it. In recognition of this, we will soon begin work on a regional needs assessment. The goal of this work is to understand how residents currently access adult and post-secondary education, how they would like to access it, and the barriers to access that they face. The information gathered through the regional needs assessment will be absolutely vital in ensuring that we are designing a polytechnic university that will best serve our residents.

This year, we will also begin our capital planning study. Aurora College has some beautiful facilities, and certain campuses and learning centres could likely accommodate significant growth, but we know there are improvements that we need to make in order to offer the world-class experience students deserve. Before the end of Phase One, we will have a capital plan that will lay out the physical nature of the future polytechnic university. This work will go hand in hand with our work to determine areas of specialization. Each campus has natural advantages due to their locations and the facilities that currently exist. We want to build on those advantages and ensure that, as we move forward, we are strengthening each campus and bolstering our community learning centres.

Mr. Speaker, the transformation is a monumental undertaking. That will soon come into clear view when we release our implementation plan, which outlines the steps and timelines of the transformation over the next six years. To help keep us on track, ground decision-making, and guide the direction of the college as it continues through the transformation process, we will be releasing a three-year strategic plan for Aurora College later this year.

Mr. Speaker, as I have stated before, we cannot do this alone, and we are not going to try to. Members of the public, Indigenous governments, industry, and Members of this House will all have opportunities to contribute to the transformation.
Mr. Speaker, Phase One, Strengthening the Foundation and Planning for Change is planned to be completed by the end of fall 2021, at which point we move into Phase Two, Transformational Change. In Phase Two, we will start making the wide-ranging changes to the structure of the college that will bring us closer to our ultimate goal. I will speak more about Phase Two in the coming weeks. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 31-19(2): Phase One: Strengthening the Foundation of Aurora College and Planning for Change
Ministers' Statements

Page 522

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

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Deputy Premier.

Minister's Statement 32-19(2): Premier Late to the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 522

Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Caroline Cochrane will be late arriving in the House today, to participate in the Council of the Federation's conference call. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 32-19(2): Premier Late to the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 522

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

Thank you, Deputy Premier. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 522

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's a pleasure to rise today to celebrate International Women's Day, which is this Sunday.

Mr. Speaker, two years ago, Members of the 18th Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to make their best efforts to increase the representation of women in this House. We set modest goals of increasing representation first to 20 percent and then to 30 percent by the 2027 election. It's fair to say that none of us expected that we would get almost 50 percent in one election cycle, but we did. In this House today, we have a highly qualified, hard-working, collaborative, and diverse group of women serving their communities and the people of the Northwest Territories.

Women have had equal rights for decades, but parity in political and public life has been a hard goal to achieve all around the world. Research has shown that, when representation of minority members reaches 30 percent, the group is able to influence decision-making.

Mr. Speaker, it's early days in this Assembly and difficult to say how the nine of us are going to influence policy and legislation in our term, but our mandate reveals that we are poised to make a difference. Having a critical mass of women in this House has helped shape our priorities, priorities that clearly differ from the last Assembly. For example, some priorities refer directly to relationships that will empower other orders of government, such as the implementation of UNDRIP and focusing on closing the municipal funding gap. Some priorities come directly from the experience of women as the primary caregivers in their families and communities, such as retaining healthcare professionals, catching up student achievement rates to the rest of Canada, and advancing universal childcare and affordable housing. That is not to say our male colleagues do not support these priorities, but the focus is more inclusive of women's ways of working, needs, and views.

Mr. Speaker, I am often asked how we are going to retain the high level of women's representation. My answer is that women here are going to prove they are capable and effective leaders. We are going to get the work done. Women of all ages and stages are going to be inspired by our example and see their potential.

This parity of women's representation is not an aberration. We are going to make it the norm. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 522

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

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife Centre. Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.

Northwest Territories Commercial Fishing Industry
Members' Statements

Page 522

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I am going to speak about, yes, fishing. The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment developed the NWT Commercial Fishing Strategy during the life of the last Assembly. Since its development, many people and organizations have come forward and advised that they were not adequately consulted during the creation of the initiative. In fact, some pointed to location of the building, unnecessary size, and functionality of the proposed fish plant as they fear the current viability of the business is not there. Some were quite astounded to see the bids received came in at almost twice the amount the GNWT had in its budget.

The business case as conceived by ITI focused on maximum production, beyond what fishers are capable of producing now or perhaps may ever produce. ITI's plans include inviting seasonal fishers from Alberta to maximize production. I have not seen how it rightly commits to investment in our own NWT residents. We need to create jobs here in the North and, more specifically, for the people of the North. We can accomplish this while systematically increasing production through building skilled NWT fishers in places around the lake.

Mr. Speaker, the First Nations and Metis people, who have had a historical presence in the fishery over the years, were not properly consulted to participate in the development of the strategy. Why did this happen? Because our bureaucracy determined that First Nations and Metis do not have a Section 35 right of the commercial fishery, thus consultation was not required. We are talking about an industry that is slowly dying. We are talking about an industry that barely generates a million dollars a year. We are talking about an industry that places fishers in peril every time they go out on the lake, and we have a bureaucracy citing Section 35 rights? We need to get real here.

We have a revitalization strategy in place. It is a place to start, but it has shortcomings. We as a government talk about partnerships with Indigenous governments, but fail to walk the talk in this area, the commercial fishing industry being one of them. It is important to remember that the commercial fishing industry is primarily made up of First Nations and Metis people. It is an industry that they are familiar with and, considering the antiquated equipment they work with, they continue to excel at it. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Mr. Speaker, this is just not about spending money. It is not about building a shiny new plant. It is about getting it right. I know we can build a viable industry. I know we can build a suitable plant. Mostly, I know we can improve life for NWT fishers and their families. It has to be done in collaboration with fishers, First Nations, and Metis people. I know that the Minister of ITI will do the right thing with this file. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Northwest Territories Commercial Fishing Industry
Members' Statements

Page 522

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

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

IRC Cup Hockey Tournament
Members' Statements

Page 522

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can you feel the excitement? I can feel the excitement from the 32nd annual hockey tournament for the IRC Cup in Inuvik, Mr. Speaker. A little bit louder than that.

---Applause

I feel like I'm in an arena now. It's good. Today, Mr. Speaker, hockey games start. We have 14 teams total. We have four A Division teams, 10 B Division teams, and they are vying for the IRC Cup, which is the Stanley Cup in our region. Everybody wants to take that cup home. I took it home quite a few times. It's a pretty good feeling. I spoke to the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk today. They have kids who are all packed up and been getting ready for the last few days in the community, who are just so excited. It's not only been a long winter and the sun is back, but spring's around the corner. This tournament is getting them ready for the Whitehorse tournament. That is the grand-daddy of them all, the Yukon indian hockey tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank IRC for putting on this tournament, and Canadian North for the sponsorship. Donny and Wilma Hendrick, thank you so much for all the work that you do to get this tournament happening every year. The games start today at the Roy Sugloo arena. I have so many good memories with Roy growing up, being in residential schools, being in Grollier Hall, playing for the IDC Huskies when I was younger, and playing for my home community of Tuktoyaktuk and representing. So exciting and so many good memories, and this is what it's all about, visiting and seeing each other. Especially the games, they get pretty intense sometimes.

Just to remind all the players: good sportsmanship to the fans. Good sportsmanship. Cheer each other on. Leave everything on the ice. Don't drink and drive. Have a good week. I look forward to seeing everybody up there tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

IRC Cup Hockey Tournament
Members' Statements

Page 523

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

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