This is page numbers 2341 - 2382 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. Diane Archie, Hon. Frederick Blake Jr., Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. Norn, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 2341

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Members, I begin this day with the sharing of sad news. The honourable David Searle, the first elected Speaker of this Legislative Assembly, passed away on March 1, 2021. He was 85 years old. Mr. Searle was born in Edmonton but moved to Yellowknife when he was a child and always considered himself a Northerner at heart.

Mr. Searle worked at the Cominco Gold Mine before attending the University of Alberta and serving in the Royal Canadian Army Reserve. Mr. Searle received his law degree at the University of Alberta in 1961 and returned north. He started what was to become the largest law firm in the Northwest Territories, de Weerdt Searle. Mr. Searle practiced law in the NWT for 20 years and was the founding president of the Law Society of the Northwest Territories.

At the same time, Mr. Searle was elected to this Assembly in 1967 and served as a Member for 12 years. He became our first elected Speaker on May 1, 1975. As our first elected Speaker, Mr. Searle was instrumental in bringing a representative, fully elected Government to the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Searle's legacy in the North reaches far beyond this Assembly. He was a key figure in business, playing a critical role in the creation of the diamond industry in the Northwest Territories. As a scout leader, Mr. Searle was a leader and mentor to many young children. He was the first president of Scouts Canada in the Northwest Territories. Mr. Searle's accomplishments are many, but none may be greater than the moral and ethical principles he imparted in his friends and family.

He is survived by his wife, Celia Stock; daughter, Kristi; and stepsons Edouard and Nicolas. A proud grandfather, he will be missed by his eight grandchildren.

On behalf of current and former Members of this Assembly, I offer our condolences, thoughts, and prayers to Mr. Searle's family and friends. The flags at the Legislative Assembly are at half mast and a condolence book will available in the Great Hall for Members wishing to pass their condolences on to the family.

Members, it is fitting that, today, as we reflect on the great history of this Assembly, that we are also marking 30 years of service by Brian Thagard, our Sergeant-at Arms. Mr. Thagard joined the Legislative Assembly as facilities manager on March 4, 1991. He was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms in October 2004.

As Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Thagard is responsible for the Legislative Assembly, its grounds, and for the protection of Members in this Chamber. A constant and calm presence, Mr. Thagard continues to serve this Assembly with great pride and dedication. I ask all Members to join me in acknowledging his 30 years of service. Mahsi.

---Applause

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

Minister's Statement 129-19(2): International Women's Day
Ministers' Statements

March 4th, 2021

Page 2341

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in advance of International Women's Day. In 1975, the United Nations designated March 8th as an opportunity for unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action about the place and role of women across the social, economic, cultural, and political fabric of the world. While it is a day for celebration, on reflection, we must raise awareness of the work that is left to be done towards greater gender equality. The theme of this year's International Women's Day is Choose to Challenge.

Mr. Speaker, I decided to search the definition of "challenge." What I found is that to challenge is to question the correctness of something. In other words, to ask ourselves if a way of being, a way of thinking, as assumption that things must be a certain way, is, in fact, based on fact and evidence or if it might be based on beliefs we were raised with, assumptions, stereotypes, or fear. If we all choose to challenge, we acknowledge that we likely all have some beliefs, assumptions, ideas, or views that should be questioned. The theme also challenges everyone to identify and call out gender bias and inequality and to work on changing people's attitudes and behaviours in order to create a fairer, more inclusive society.

Mr. Speaker, governments can also choose to challenge. Doing things the way they have always been done is easier. The processes and the systems are in place, but to truly challenge those processes and those systems takes courage, patience, and humility. The Government of the Northwest Territories is choosing to challenge inequality by proposing the creation of a gender equity unit.

The work of the gender equity unit will include:

  • making sure the GNWT's commitment to gender equality is included and reflected in budgets, policies, and programs;
  • promoting and training staff on how to use gender-based analysis plus to assess how diverse groups of women/girls, men/boys, and gender-diverse people may experience government policies, programs, and initiatives;
  • coordinating cross-departmental action on gender issues and women's economic empowerment; and
  • promoting gender equity and leadership at senior levels.

In short, the gender equity unit needs to challenge the way we make decisions and allocate resources. History and science tell us that challenging social norms and standing up for a diversity of voices and perspectives can improve decision making and organizational functioning. That choice is far from easy. This will make our decision making better, more inclusive, and more productive.

The gender equity unit will also support the continuation of the Campaign School for Women, which equips women with tools and supports to run for elected leadership. The success of the Campaign School for Women can be measured by the increased number of women who are running for office. We need to choose to challenge our own ideas of who should run and who should win and what they are capable of. In this Chamber, the elected leadership of the Northwest Territories now counts nine women around this circle, the most women ever elected to a Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, one election does not mean that the challenge of gender equity is conquered. We, all of us, cannot allow ourselves to forget that one election has not changed the fact that the Northwest Territories was, until this election, at or near the bottom in terms of gender representativeness across Canada or that we still have the second highest rate of gender-based violence. We must still choose to challenge every day in how we govern and in how we look at one another.

As the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, I choose to challenge. I choose to challenge gender bias. I choose to challenge inequality. I choose to challenge discomfort, fear, and unfamiliarity and to embrace my role as a Member of the 19th Legislative Assembly to ensure that gender diversity becomes a new normal and not merely historic. Mr. Speaker, I hope others can take a moment to consider whether or how they too can choose to challenge in celebration of International Women's Day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 129-19(2): International Women's Day
Ministers' Statements

Page 2341

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Minister's Statement 130-19(2): 2020 Outstanding Volunteer Award Recipients
Ministers' Statements

Page 2341

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, volunteerism plays an important role in contributing to healthy, safe, and vibrant communities. In the NWT, community volunteers are essential to community health and well-being, and we recognize their role in contributing to a strong and resilient territory. To acknowledge the vital contributions of our volunteers in the Northwest Territories, the Outstanding Volunteer Awards program was developed in 1991. The awards provide an opportunity to recognize outstanding volunteers in the Northwest Territories and highlight the importance of volunteerism in the NWT and among the NWT residents.

Mr. Speaker, today, I want to acknowledge and celebrate the 2020 NWT Outstanding Volunteer Award winners. This year, due to the health protocols around public gatherings, it was decided to create a video recognizing the recipients of the award. This video will be released for viewing today.

The recipients of the NWT Outstanding Volunteer awards for 2020 are:

  • Outstanding Elder Award - Marino Casebeer
  • Outstanding Youth Award - Anna Seagrave
  • Outstanding Individual Award - Caihla MacCuish
  • Outstanding Group Award - Inclusion NWT, Board of Directors

I would like to briefly highlight each award winner. Marino Casebeer has been a volunteer with the Folk on the Rocks Music Festival for upwards of 30 years. He has been a major part of organizing the Folk on the Rocks stages, artists, gear, sound checks, and schedule throughout his tenure as the head stage manager among many other roles. He has passed his love of music, the Folk on the Rocks Festival, and volunteering onto his community and his family. All of his children have been active volunteers with the festival for years. As part of winning the award, Marino received $1,000 to donate to an organization of his choice. His donation will go to Folk on the Rocks.

Anna Seagrave has been an active volunteer in the community of Yellowknife for many years. She volunteers with a variety of projects, including Fostering Open eXpression among Youth, known as the FOXY program, the YWCA Yellowknife Council, Yellowknife Catholic School Indigenous Education Program, and she teaches throat singing to the youth at Weledeh Catholic School. She is a role model in her work to preserve Inuit culture and to support Northern young women to succeed in the Northwest Territories. She is a peer leader who promotes healthy choices and encourages young women to believe in themselves. As part of winning this award, Anna received $1,000 to donate to an organization of her choice. Ms. Seagrave selected FOXY.

Caihla MacCuish has served on the Board of Directors for the Yellowknife Association of Community Living. She is the co-chair of the Yellowknife Dance Collective, and she has been a member and chair of the Yellowknife Community Garden Collective board. Caihla has dedicated her time to carrying out committee work, delivering community workshops and classes, organizing fundraisers, and contributing to the visions and missions of the organizations that she volunteers with. Her positive outlook and dedication to making her community healthier and happier is evident in every project she becomes a part of. As part of winning this award, Caihla received $1,000 to donate to an organization of her choice. Her choice this year will go to the Yellowknife Women's Society.

Our final recipient for Outstanding Group Award is Inclusion NWT. Inclusion NWT provides lifelong support and services to individuals with disabilities and their families. The board consists of nine members who are responsible for establishing the association's policies and overall direction. The board works exceptionally hard to fully support the staff at Inclusion NWT so that they can effectively interact with and support individuals with disabilities and their families. The Inclusion NWT board meets regularly to identify gaps in community needs and come up with plans around filling those gaps and providing the best support possible. As part of winning this award, the Board of Directors received $1,000 to donate to an organization of their choice. This year their choice is the Respite Services Program.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Cabinet, I send my congratulations to everyone receiving the awards this year and to those who were nominated. I would like to acknowledge the importance of the volunteer work they contributed throughout their communities. Lastly, I want to remind everyone that nominations for NWT Outstanding Volunteer awards are open year-round. Please encourage your constituents to submit nominations. Mashi, Mr.Speaker.

Minister's Statement 130-19(2): 2020 Outstanding Volunteer Award Recipients
Ministers' Statements

Page 2342

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Minister's Statement 131-19(2): Women in Leadership
Ministers' Statements

Page 2342

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, March 8th is International Women's Day, a global celebration of the women and girls in our lives who have made immeasurable contributions to making the Northwest Territories, Canada, and the world, a better place for everyone.

A little over a century ago, women were fighting for the right to vote and the right to stand for office. Demanding better pay and voting rights, 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City in 1908. By 1911, the first International Women's Day was honoured by several European nations with more than one million women and men attending rallies in support of women's rights to work, vote, hold public office, and end discrimination. Fast forward to 2019, Mr. Speaker, and Northwest Territories residents voted in the first gender-balanced legislature in Canadian history. This would not have been possible if it was not for trailblazing Canadian feminists and activists who fought for what they believed in and challenged the status quo of a system that was created with a significant gender imbalance.

We have made great strides as a society to advance gender equality, but we still have a lot of work to do. Women continue to face gender-based barriers and discrimination, and these obstacles make it difficult for women to get an equal footing. The world has been accustomed to male politicians, and there is a certain societal expectation that says female politicians should play nice. If we are seen as aggressive or having too strong a voice, it is easy to characterize us using negative and misogynist stereotypes. In many places, women are still seen as incapable of taking on responsibility in what are perceived as male-oriented areas, such as finance, energy, economic development, climate change, foreign affairs, defense, trade, and infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, this is often the case in parliaments where women are given 'women's only' portfolios or only allowed to sit in women's committees and are being pushed away from the other committees because of their gender. At times, it is a tougher environment for female politicians, Mr. Speaker. We have a microscope pointed on our activities all the time, the detractors just waiting for us to fail so they can say, "I told you so." I remember when I was elected Premier, people were saying things like I could not lead, that the economy was going to fail. The sky has not fallen with my election as Premier, and I would argue that we have weathered the past year well.

Mr. Speaker, the impact of representation is critical to the younger generations. It is about being a role model and paving the way for young women to aspire to do great things: to be doctors, teachers, CEOs, and political leaders. The more women that get elected to any kind leadership position, the more it shows younger women and the women around us that they can do it too.

I remember hearing a story about Norway's Defense Minister. Important context: between 2001 and 2017, six of the seven Defense Ministers in Norway were female. A young boy was talking to the then Defense Minister and asked, "Can boys be Defense Minister?" It is a good reminder that we all look for what we see, to understand what can be. Representation is key. It is important to me that the next generation of women take up this fight, as well, Mr. Speaker. I am glad that there are greater resources and role models to not only show that it is possible but to provide the "know-how" to do it.

We must continue to work together to develop and implement strategies to eliminate these barriers, prevent violence against women and girls, update policies and programs to promote the development of women in leadership positions, and continue the momentum as we strive to achieve gender equality.

Mr. Speaker, the full participation and leadership of women in all aspects of society enriches the lives of us all and supports a kinder, more progressive world. However, women remain underrepresented in public life and decision making. Some of the best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been led by women, not only as politically-elected leaders, but at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. They include healthcare professionals, from cleaning staff to doctors, who continue to put their lives at risk every day to help people. They are scientists who have helped develop vaccines to protect residents and communities from the virus. They are the educators who have adapted and have continued to educate the future generation of leaders.

Mr. Speaker, International Women's Day was established 110 years ago to promote equal rights. These efforts laid the foundation for women to continue the fight against gender-based discrimination, patriarchal values, and systemic gender oppression that has held women back from being equal participants in our society. As we celebrate the creativity, solidarity, and resilience of the women and girls all around us, it is important we remain committed to a world where women have a meaningful seat at the decision-making table. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 131-19(2): Women in Leadership
Ministers' Statements

Page 2342

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Honourable Premier. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Women in Business
Members' Statements

Page 2342

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to know some pretty incredible people who identify as women. I have met, learned from, worked with, and loved women who are change makers, trail blazers, creative geniuses, intellectual rock stars, and expert humans.

Monday is International Women's Day, and this year's international theme is Choose to Challenge. The constituency I serve is home to great change makers who choose to challenge: Myrna Pokiak, artist, mother, entrepreneur, and advocate for the NWT's business community; Cynthia Mufandedza, mother, entrepreneur, politician, and business and community advocate; and Tiarella Hanna, entrepreneur, selfless volunteer, and animal advocate. One strong commonality between these passionate women is that they are business owners. When I think of the women I grew up with who are entrepreneurs, the list is extensive: Sarah Kalnay-Watson of Let Me Knot; Meagan Peters of Etandah; Sarah Erasmus of Erasmus Apparel; Charlene Chapple of Haylani Apparel; Cheryl Houweling of Kavanaugh; Nadja Lennie of Fireside Denture Clinic; Diana Curtis of Diana Curtis Designs; and Gillian Rivers of Ph8. A small piece of large list of born-and-bred northern women entrepreneurs.

A persistent entrepreneurial creative spirit challenges the status quo and is ready to constantly evolve, but do not be fooled. Business is exciting, fast-paced, and new. It is also scary, riddled with risk, and exhausting. However, business is not about perfection or never failing. Every misstep is a chance to learn, grow, and get better, so teaching women and girls how to fail, be brave, and try again is imperative to the success of our future entrepreneurial spirit. My mother always says, "Do what you love, and the money will come;" so do what you love, and risk and reward will eventually even itself out.

Mr. Speaker, about 16 percent of Canadian small business owners are women. Studies show that, by increasing gender equality and women's participation in the economy, Canada could add up to $150 billion to our national GDP. How do we get there? US research shows that, while women account for 37 percent of entrepreneurs, they receive 2 percent of venture funding. Traditionally, women are filed -- I'm having a hard time today, Mr. Speaker. Okay. Traditionally, women are filed under micro business, getting micro loans. However, women business owners are not less-than. We need to support the evolution of female entrepreneurs from micro to medium to mega. Mr. Speaker, with that, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement today.

---Unanimous consent granted

Women in Business
Members' Statements

Page 2343

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Business is critical to the success of the North. There is opportunity for success in every single one of our NWT communities. Canada set its own International Women's Day theme of Feminist Recovery, but let's not just support recovery; let's inspire, aim higher, invest more, and leverage dollars that invest in women. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Women in Business
Members' Statements

Page 2343

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Vaccine Rollout
Members' Statements

Page 2343

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When it comes to COVID-19 vaccination roll-out, we here in the Northwest Territories are a very fortunate population. According to the Department of Health and Social Services, the NWT is the leading jurisdiction in Canada when it comes to its first-dose vaccine delivery. Mr. Speaker, as of February the 26th, 14,520 NWT residents have received their first vaccine dose, which equals to 32.2 percent of the entire NWT population. In comparison, according to the Government of Canada, again as of February 26th, there has only been a total of 1.7 percent of the total Canadian population who has received their first vaccine dose. Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the statistics on the global vaccination delivery rate compared to Canada's rate are even starker. For example, according to the United Nations secretary general, as of February 17th, there are 130 countries that have not yet received a single dose of vaccines. The secretary general said that only 10 countries have administered 75 percent of all vaccines worldwide.

Mr. Speaker, these statistics demonstrate an uneven distribution of vaccine delivery around the world. This unfortunate reality is a sharp reminder of how fortunate we are in Canada and in the Northwest Territories when it comes to vaccine delivery. In addition, it is worth noting that, according to a News North article from just yesterday, the NWT is the number one jurisdiction in Canada for prioritizing vaccinations for persons with disabilities. It is also important to note that the NWT and Prince Edward Island remain the only two jurisdictions in the country that have zero deaths from COVID-19.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the residents of Fort Smith, I would like to take this moment to once again say thank you to Dr. Kandola, the Chief Public Health Officer, along with Minister Green and Premier Cochrane for all their work in helping to keep our residents safe and protected from COVID-19. The residents of Fort Smith are very grateful for the work that has been done to protect the NWT from the adverse effects of this pandemic. I hope to continue seeing the NWT succeed in our fight against COVID-19. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Vaccine Rollout
Members' Statements

Page 2343

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Recycling Depots
Members' Statements

Page 2343

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Mr. Speaker, it's our job in this House to look at the large systemic issues that affect all of the people of the NWT, but it is also our job in this House to look at the small incremental changes that can help those people. I believe the GNWT, in order to become a much more adaptable public service, needs to change the way it operates. In order to create an adaptable government, we require a four-step approach to approaching the smaller problems:

  • identify where people are struggling going about their daily lives;
  • identify the next smallest thing that can be done today to mitigate that struggle, not a large overhaul, a next smallest thing;
  • do that thing; do it right away; do not engage with stakeholders; do not create a strategic plan; just do it; and
  • repeat the process.

Mr. Speaker, I believe, if our front-line staff follow this model, it will free up room in our House to have those large, systemic debates we must have. As an example, some years ago, I had a conversation with a man who collected models in downtown Yellowknife. He would collect models from wherever he could, mostly out of the trash, then would slump the bags over his back and walk them out to the recycling depot across town for the few dollars he earned. This was his near daily routine. In fact, Mr. Speaker, if one pays attention, it is a common sight in Yellowknife to see people walking down Old Airport Road with a bag full of recycling slung over their shoulders.

The small and simple solution to address this problem is to offer a second recycling option located in downtown, Mr. Speaker. I had previously asked ENR whether a second recycling station in downtown Yellowknife was possible. They seemed to agree it was a good idea, yet for some reason, it still has not occurred. I am not even asking for a fully staffed second location, just a satellite station that feeds into the main one. There are many different ways this can look. Across the world, there are various vending machines, Mr. Speaker, where you can feed in a few recyclables for some cash. The current depot recently adopted a drop-and-go service. Surely, there is such a way to extend this drop-and-go service to an area downtown for our elderly, disabled, and those with mobility issues. I will have questions for the Minister of ENR about whether we can make life a little easier for those who have to walk across town for a few dollars, and hopefully, we can do it quickly, Mr. Speaker.