This is page numbers 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 public.

Topics

member's statement on Northwest Territories Power Corporation Employee Position
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunited Nation Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

The Speaker Lesa Semmler

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

Member's statement on Immigration Strategy
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunited Nation Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Madam Speaker. We are nearing the end of the GNWT's five-year immigration strategy with a vision of building a skilled and culturally diverse workforce that meets local employer's needs and leads to a vibrant diverse economy. The existing strategy lacked measurable targets so I can't say if the GNWT met its goals, but we have never filled our immigration quota so before this government sets a course for the next five years, I would like to make some suggestion.

First, a made in the NWT immigration program. Last year the Yukon launched a three-year location-restricted open work permit pilot program to drive immigration to fill industry needs. This pilot was not a program of convenience but one of necessity for economic recovery. In addition, the Yukon has gone the extra steps to establish an immigration exemption policy that allows newcomers to work for up to three different employers without the need for a labor market impact assessment. The pilot project reflects the unique labor market conditions in Yukon communities and was responsive to the specific needs of employers.

Labor supply shortfalls currently constrain business innovation in Yellowknife. Without people to fill the labor demands of an economic development dream, the dream stays an idea, literally, without legs to walk it forward.

Second is a shift in focus to industry support. There is a direct correlation between our cost of living and immigration, Madam Speaker. When businesses close, everyone loses. There is a chain reaction of shrinkage, loss of morale, and depression of our northern economy that increases the cost of living not only in Yellowknife but across the Northwest Territories.

This week, I asked for a shift in procurement focus from service to government to service to industry. I have the same request for immigration. An industry-focused effort to support economic development by supporting staffing needs we can't fill in the Northwest Territories.

Third, Madam Speaker, is a focused effort on immigration under one roof and one Minister responsible. Today if I want to discuss the immigration challenges of my constituents, I need to direct my questions to three different departments. The GNWT must consolidate its immigration efforts to serve industry needs through active outreach to be effective.

Successful economic recovery for the NWT relies on immigration. This is not a zero sum equation that cancels our need for education, increased graduation rates, skilled northern workers, housing, and northern procurement. Immigration supports our goals in the face of building up Northerners and our collective vision for the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

Member's statement on Immigration Strategy
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunited Nation Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

The Speaker Lesa Semmler

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

member's statement on Support for Local Artisans
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunited Nation Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

December 2nd, 2021

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, going into the festive season, which I believe is the time for family, friendship, and sharing, I have a favour to ask of all the residents in the Northwest Territories. I ask that this holiday you recognize and support your local artisans and consider purchasing the many creations that each makes available to us throughout the year.

Madam Speaker, one group of people that have not stopped working, or asked to be accommodated during this pandemic, has been the artisans. They have continued throughout with their art, to bring some comfort and reflection during these difficult times where some have had to make difficult life choices.

Madam Speaker, when it comes to design and producing the many beautiful traditional and non-traditional creations we see every day, we must be reminded that the talent many of these artisans enjoy was passed down to them by a long line of present and past artisans. With this talent comes the importance of utilizing and respecting those natural resources harvested, or extracted, for use in their creations which will become part of our history.

Madam Speaker, for many of the artisans, it is not so much about the money. It is about passion, it is about vision, and that of sharing the artistic knowledge and talent that has been passed down to them or that which has been self-taught. However, we all know the value of the many unique pieces that are being produced and we must be sure that artisans receive fair compensation.

Madam Speaker, over the years I have had the pleasure of having many local and regional artisans visit me with traditional and gallery-quality creations. I believe that for the many of us who do not have the artistic ability, or may have not yet discovered our artistic potential, can still do our part by supporting and encouraging others to support those many talented artisans through the purchase and showcasing their creations.

Madam Speaker, I also encourage everyone to visit the NWT Arts website for artists and creations near you. And in advance, I would like to thank all those persons who will be supporting the artisans of the NWT this Christmas season and all those who have supported the artisans over the years. Please do not stop with this support. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause.

member's statement on Support for Local Artisans
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunited Nation Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

The Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

member's statement on Tourism
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunited Nation Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I am doing my part to help out with what the Hay River South MLA is saying.

Currently, Madam Speaker, our out-of-territory tourists are not permitted to enter the NWT for leisure travel unless they are travelling directly to an approved remote tourism location. According to operators, to gain this designation they must submit a rigorous COVID plan that includes additional insurance for medevacs, plans for isolating guests, and provisions to bring doctors to site should a COVID diagnosis be required. After almost two years of literally no business, operators are finding themselves in the difficult position of having to decide if they close their businesses or go further into debt hoping that one day they will see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The tourism industry is an indirect and direct supporter of northern businesses including retail, restaurants, art galleries, suppliers, and airlines. We have seen a huge loss in our tourism sector with many businesses changing the services they offer or shutting down completely. Operators are selling their inventory of gear, and many of our shops and retail outlets are leaving or switching to online storefronts to survive the effects of the pandemic restrictions.

With the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 in the NWT, I understand that the order restricting leisure travel by non-residents is being looked at and hopefully we can expect changes soon. Will these changes come quickly enough to save our vulnerable tourism sector? I really don't know and have to admit I'm not optimistic given how long it will take for operators to recover any sort of profit after years of poor return.

As part of ongoing support for tourism marketing and infrastructure programming, the GNWT announced that the Tourism Product Diversification and Marketing Program and the Community Tourism Infrastructure Contribution Program are officially open for submissions and are eliminating a step by removing the expressions of interest phase.

Has this move by the GNWT come quickly enough to save the NWT tourism industry through the remainder of this pandemic?

When I see outfitters selling assets and hear rumors of large operators closing businesses that not only serve tourists but also local residents, I'm sad for them and worried for the future of the sector. Tourism operators have run out of resources, restrictions have starved their operations, and current entry requirements continue to turn people away. If we don't work hard now to help them, there is no way they will weather the COVID storm. And I have to ask, given the current bleak outlook are we already too late? Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause


MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you, Member. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

member's statement on Aurora College Transformation Budget
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunited Nation Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Madam le President. I participated in a Standing Communicate on Social Development and public technical briefing on Aurora College's transformation on October 27th, 2021. It appears that the work is largely on track. As the Minister knows, and I have publicly stated, I support further development of, and investment in, our education system as a whole, including post-secondary education. I support a polytechnic university as way to focus development of our knowledge economy; ensure our investment in student financial assistance is maximized; and, to give to our students more options.

One part of the reason of the briefing that caught my ear as the federal government commitment of $8 million in their last budget to support the transformation. While this is a welcome investment, it really pales in comparison to what has happened with federal funding or Yukon University.

In March 2019, the federal government announced $26 million for a new science building for the then Yukon College to assist with their transformation to a university. In January 2021, there was a further funding announcement of $10.4 million in funding and in-kind contributions to establish a strategy for patient-oriented research, support for a unit, and a patient-oriented research and trials unit in the Yukon.

This made me wonder why the GNWT is not getting a similar investment. I have always wondered what our Cabinet colleagues take to Ottawa as funding requests for submissions and what priority is given to various asks.

In the last Assembly, virtually all the effort went into getting big infrastructure funding for roads and more roads. I suspect that tune has not changed much, or not enough, with this Cabinet.

As I understand it, we will not have a full budget for the Aurora College polytechnic university transformation, including facilities, until July 2022. We can't wait that long.

We have a new and what appears to be ambitious federal government in a minority situation, again, almost like our own consensus government here. We need to get our case before them for funding and investment in our post-secondary system now. I will have questions for the Minister of Education later today. Merci, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

member's statement on Aurora College Transformation Budget
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunited Nation Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

The Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

member's statement on Eulogy for Tommy Norberg
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunited Nation Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Madam Speaker. On Tuesday, September 16th, Tommy passed away in his home. Tommy was known by many others during his life. In the residential school in Aklavik, many of his friends called him Tommy Tucker. At Read Island, he earned the name Aqpaaq, for running messages camp-to-camp.

In Aklavik, he was told to help a single Gwich'in woman whom he didn't know. He would chop wood, haul ice, and trap for her. Before leaving Aklavik he finally learnt that she was his aunt Caroline Moses.

He returned from school to Prince Albert Sound, where his uncle lived, to learn the life of a trapper and hunter until his father, Johnny Norberg, picked him up and took him to Read Island.

Tommy tells of his skating ability when he would skate on the river at Read Island to reach the trapline while Joe, his brother, would run the dogs. Sometimes Tommy would skate over 30 miles in a day.

Later in life, he was recruited for construction of the DEW Line sites. Wherever they were transferred to a site, there was no school, the children of school age were sent to residential school.

When their son Harry Maffa became of school age, Elva put her foot down telling Tommy to quit working because there's no more children that were going to be sent away to residential school. During that time they moved to Coppermine now known as Kugluktuk.

Tom and Elva went to visit their parents on Holman Island. While there, Tommy was offered a job of settlement maintainer. He maintained all the government buildings, including the school, nursing station, and operated the power plant. He built the first runway down the middle of town.

Eventually the government decided that the original site was not adequate to grow the community. Tommy was tasked with moving all the buildings to Queens Bay. The biggest piece of heavy equipment was a D4 Cat. He taught other men how to operate the equipment.

He's always talking to his daughters about going to school, getting an education, and a career for themselves. He reinforced that his grade 4 education from Aklavik was not sufficient. He encouraged his daughters to move where the jobs were and that home would always be there to come home to. He taught the boys and men in the family how to be prepared for unexpected situations especially when whales arrived. The young men and grandsons loved having him around while they wrenched, built sleds, or did equipment repairs. Supervising the operation and always giving tips, He kept them entertained, too, with stories. The boys loved his one-liners or comebacks.

Madam Speaker, I had the honor to be adopted by Tommy and Elva when I lived in Coppermine. My sisters, his siblings, friends and extended family and I will sadly miss him. The saving grace is he is now in heaven with his loving wife Elva. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

member's statement on Eulogy for Tommy Norberg
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunited Nation Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

The Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Members' statements. Returns to oral questions. Recognitions of visitors in the gallery. Acknowledgements. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Oral Questionsoral Question 852-19(2):united Nations Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights
Oral Questionsoral Question 852-19(2):united Nations Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Chair. With calls across the country to return land to Indigenous governments and really at the heart of our standing land claims is a question about land. I was hoping the Premier could provide some insight.

Assuming we ever do settle the outstanding land claims, what percent of land in the NWT would we expect to remain public land versus private land? And I know that can be a hard question so perhaps some clarifying on surface or subsurface or what the general percentage has been in settled areas. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Oral Questionsoral Question 852-19(2):united Nations Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights
Oral Questionsoral Question 852-19(2):united Nations Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

The Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Honourable Premier.

Oral Questionsoral Question 852-19(2):united Nations Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights
Oral Questionsoral Question 852-19(2):united Nations Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Madam Chair -- or Madam Speaker. As the Member stated, it's not an easy answer. It would be easy to say 10 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent, but it's not as easy as that. It all depends on the difference negotiations. So I'm going to try to explain some of it and of course offer a briefing to standing committee for more technical if they wish that, but the comparison of land quantum in claims can't be looked at in one area because there's negotiation process. Some take more cash, some takes more lands, some take more subsurface.

The other consideration we have to take when we look at settled lands and non-settled land is land that is publicly administered by the GNWT, land administered by municipalities, land that's owned in fee simple, land that's administrated by the federal government, and land that might be part of a national park or other conservation area. So, again -- and the other thing that's really -- comes into play as well is when some Indigenous governments in their negotiations are looking at exclusively Indigenous governments, which means only settled claims for their people, members of their people, and others are more inclusive in their provisions so they want to provide services to all the general public. Of course, all those factors have to be taken into consideration.

So, again, we're really flexible within that, depending on the needs, the region, the communities. Also overlapping lands. There's a number of lands where it's not just one Indigenous government; it's multi-Indigenous governments that have claims in for those lands so all that has to be taken into consideration. So there's no one size fits all.

But I think that it is worth noting, Madam Speaker, that in the NWT, our agreements are amongst the largest in the whole of the country in terms of land quantum, and I think that's where we are in regards to working with Indigenous governments in the NWT, is very progressive and sets an example for the whole of Canada and perhaps the whole of the world. So, again, it's not as easy an answer as I'd like it to be but if -- we will offer standing committee a briefing on it as well, a technical briefing. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Oral Questionsoral Question 852-19(2):united Nations Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights
Oral Questionsoral Question 852-19(2):united Nations Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Chair. I understand that it's complicated. I guess part of the concern I hear from Indigenous governments is it's the only reason we have the land is devolution before and, you know, I think there's been a lot of criticism about having a third party at the table. And I guess my question is now that devolution is a bit of a defacto completion, is the agreement to sign on to devolution, and I think probably more importantly the corresponding royalty split, a condition for any future land claims as far as the GNWT is concerned?

Oral Questionsoral Question 852-19(2):united Nations Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights
Oral Questionsoral Question 852-19(2):united Nations Declaration On The Right Of Indigenous People And Land Rights

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I know that Members don't like me to - us to say no in the House, but no, it is not a condition -- devolution is not a condition of settling land claims. Land claims are separate. So devolution is a table. Many members have -- there's a mixture. Some have land claim settled, some have self-government settled, and some people are in the process and some are not even wanting to. So the devolution table is a table for all people to share royalties, to talk about land and resources and how we co-develop acts and regulations going forward, and every Indigenous government is welcomed to come to the table. Thank you.