Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, many NWT residents are living with some form of disability. They are our neighbors, co-workers, family members, leaders, and friends. We are grateful for the contributions that persons with disabilities make in the territory. For this reason, we continue to advance work to ensure all residents are able to participate fully in all communities, without barriers.
National AccessAbility Week runs until June 5th this year. It is the week where we celebrate the contributions of persons with disabilities and recognize the important work being done to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion in all communities.
Mr. Speaker, this year's theme in the NWT is Inclusion and AccessAbility; Nothing About Us Without Us!
What does this mean for us as a territory or as individuals? It means it is the responsibility of each of us to work with, and include people who have disabilities, to ensure equal access to all the rights and freedoms each member of our society enjoys.
Working in partnership with multiple GNWT departments, the Department of Health and Social Services is currently fulfilling the objectives outlined in the NWT Disability Strategic Framework. The shared vision is to increase financial security and reduce poverty; to build awareness and knowledge through education and training; to improve transition planning and options; to encourage universal design and living options, and to improve access to and the quality of caregiver supports.
This is a significant undertaking, Mr. Speaker, and one that requires thoughtful insight into how best to create inclusiveness within the public realm, while also providing individual supports that assist in creating a foundation for success for persons with disabilities. For that reason, we just put out a call to hear directly from people with lived experience by creating an NWT Supported Living Review Advisory Group.
This group will be comprised of six to ten members of the public who either have a disability or who is the caregiver of a person with a disability. It will give NWT residents a voice to provide knowledge and advice during the review of our Supported Living services for persons with disabilities. This is an important step toward the government embracing the “nothing about us without us” approach that is so important to residents.
Mr. Speaker, while we as a government continue to work hard to achieve accessibility for all NWT residents, we also rely on others to provide assistance for persons with disabilities.
Every year, we have an award ceremony to recognize NWT individuals and organizations who contribute to making the lives of persons with disabilities more accessible and inclusive. At this year's Persons with Disabilities Accessibility and Inclusion Awards event, I will present awards as the Minister responsible for Persons with Disabilities, along with representatives from the NWT Human Rights Commission and the NWT Disabilities Council.
Due to COVID restrictions, this event is being presented in the form of a video which will be made available on June 4th on the Department of Health and Social Services website, as well as on social media.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate this year's award recipients.
Laurie McLean of Yellowknife is the recipient of the Minister's award for Accessibility and Inclusion. Samantha Morandin of Yellowknife is the recipient of the NWT Disabilities Council Community Champion Award. And the Zhati Koe Friendship Centre in Fort Providence is the recipient of the Human Rights Commission Accessibility Award.
These individuals are all deserving recipients. They have shown a true inclusive community spirit and their impactful work removes barriers for persons with disabilities in our communities.
Mr. Speaker, we all have roles to play in promoting inclusion and accessibility for every member of society and the government will continue to take meaningful steps toward a vision of equity, accessibility, and participation for persons with disabilities in the NWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.