This is page numbers 6869 - 6942 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 know.

Topics

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm a big fan of four-day workweeks, and so I've really enjoyed these back-to-back holidays we've had creating two 4-day workweeks. And I'm a big fan of holidays especially in the dark cold months of February. And so for one last time, for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, does the Minister support his family by creating a family day holiday in February. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish the Member would have stopped when he got those yeses from the Minister of ITI earlier. It would have ended this on a high note. But the answer is no, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Written questions. I thought Frame Lake was going to get one more set in there for ECC. Colleagues, we will take a short recess.

---SHORT RECESS

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Colleagues, we will continue. Let's try this again. Written questions. Returns to written questions. Replies to Commissioner's address. Member for Frame Lake.

Mr. O'Reilly's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6882

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. Where's the Kleenex? Just in case. It would probably be easier to do this without an audience today.

It's been an honour and a privilege to serve the residents of Frame Lake and indeed all the people of the Northwest Territories. Frame Lake is an amazingly diverse riding. I have lived in the riding for 30 years, and I love it. I need to acknowledge some people that have supported me and indeed all of us while we have been here for the 19th Assembly, most importantly, all of our families that loaned us to this great institution to make decisions on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories.

Thanks to my wife Suzette and our adult children Amber and Rene. You were often subjected to my debriefings and rants but also served as patient sounding boards. I could not have done this without you.

Thanks to all our fantastic staff that keep this place ticking over for all of us. They always tried to make us look good with varying degrees of success. They are the unsung heroes of democracy, and few will ever know the sacrifices and hard work they do for all of us and the public. I acknowledge that I can be hard on our staff but have always complimented good work and never asked for anything I wasn't prepared to do myself. I would also like to recognize and sincerely thank Craig Yeo and Michael Burchill who faithfully served as my constituency assistants and helped many residents with care and respect.

Thanks to my colleagues in this House. You have had to put up with a lot from me. I am the slowest and pickiest eater, have a healthy skepticism of some traditions, and rarely hold my tongue. That being said, I think you would have to agree that I do my homework and more; I've been honest and respectful, admitted mistakes, and remain open to persuasion and new ideas. Like the Speaker said, I will tell you what I'm going to do. I'll give you notice first. I will tell you want I'm going to do. And then I do it. No surprises.

People do not send us here to agree with each other. Differences are healthy and lead to better decisions even if it is a difficult journey. I know that Cabinet thinks I'm rather sparse and miserly with my accolades for their work, so listen carefully. Although this Assembly was often frustrating, I felt and believe that this time around we actually had a Cabinet that was interested in working with Regular MLAs. So hats off to all my Cabinet friends for trying to work with us on this side. My sincere thanks.

Also thanks to our public service who faithfully carry out our direction no matter how crazy that may be at times. During the 19th Assembly, the COVID pandemic, floods, and then fires had a huge impact on our ability to get work done and to work together. Many important initiatives, legislation, and policy changes were delayed. The pandemic also changed the way we conduct our business. In my view, some changes have been positive while others much less so. Our reliance on video conferencing was helpful but came at the expense of personal relationships and communications.

We've had some difficult personnel matters that we've had to deal with in a very public fashion; however, as painful as that was, we learned from those experiences. Our systems work, and based on lessons learned, we put in place various changes to allow for faster but fair decisions and off-ramps. I urge all NWT residents to exercise their right to vote carefully and thoughtfully, send respectful, hard-working people from a diversity of backgrounds and interests and experience to ensure that public consensus government continues to work.

I especially want to recognize those Members who do not live in Yellowknife. You've carried a much larger burden. I have the luxury of going home every evening, and even if it's very late, being with my friends and family. But I want to thank you guys for the additional sacrifices you had to make.

I want to commend you, Mr. Speaker, for the promotion and support of the Assembly in all our official languages. Mahsi. I also need to recognize the progress that has been made in using all of our official languages in this Assembly and the dedication of our interpreters to make sure everyone can better understand what is said in this place. Merci, mahsi, Marci, Quana, and Thank you.

The OpenNWT website continues to provide a great record of Legislative Assembly debates. That data shows that in all I spoke 350,000 words in each of the 18th and 19th Assemblies. Can you believe it? I believe the only ones who spoke more words than me were MLA Abernethy and MLA Wawzonek. A search of all remarks shows that the most-used word spoken by me was "thanks."

In this Assembly, my office provided services to 104 constituents needing help with GNWT-related issues. I brought forward three private members bills over two Assemblies, two which were successful or incorporated into government bills.

We have accomplished a lot together, Mr. Speaker, in this Assembly, and here are a few highlights:

We changed the way that resource management bills are reviewed so that it is a collaborative process with Indigenous governments. The only place in Canada and perhaps the world that does it this way. We have our first product of that process, a new and better Forest Act based on co-management and sustainability.

We changed the Fiscal Responsibility Policy -- maybe not as much as I wanted -- and practices to begin to limit perpetual over-budgeting on capital and increase transparency in our finances.

We improved the Ombud's authority through a Private Member's Bill. A special thanks to MLA Johnson for that initiative.

We improved Cabinet's carbon tax with mandatory public reporting and revenue sharing with community governments.

We passed legislation to better implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which will change the legislative and policy agendas for future public governments. More work is needed to ensure everyone is at the table and that Regular MLAs are involved.

We laid the foundation for an expanded and improved postsecondary education system for the NWT to help us build a knowledge economy.

Much work remains, including action on our climate and caribou crises, poverty, system-wide improvements to education, universal child care, improved services for seniors, completion of Indigenous land rights agreements, and getting our housing out of core need.

That's my advice on priorities for the next Assembly. Focus on one large infrastructure project, the Mackenzie Valley Highway that connects communities, and do it in an incremental fashion to ensure that communities benefit. Treat housing as a large infrastructure project. Connect all of our communities to affordable and reliable internet services. Build community and household energy self-sufficiency. I think that should be your infrastructure goals for the next Assembly.

One of the first issues the next Assembly will have to deal with is a review of the fires and emergency management. Please make sure it is an independent third-party comprehensive review with public participation, resources, and access to expertise. A terms of reference should be collaboratively developed among the Council of Leaders, Cabinet, and Regular MLAs.

This is not about finding fault but learning and adapting to a changing world with a climate emergency and collaboration between Indigenous and public governments.

Throughout all of my time here, I applied a laser focus on transparency and accountability on legislation, policies, and processes. Public government has not just a responsibility but a duty to ensure the public has an opportunity to see important documents and decisions and to participate in decision-making. This lens can and must be applied systematically across everything this government does. We can and must do a better job of actually implementing the Open Government Policy.

One last challenge, Mr. Speaker, please find ways to better explain in plain language what happens here, how we make laws, how consensus government works, and the difference between the Legislative and Executive branches of government. Make more of the work that happens here public and accessible.

Never say never, but my current plans do not include becoming a candidate in the election for the 20th Assembly. It's time for a break and to spend more time with my family. I'm not going to go anywhere, and I'll probably poke my nose in here just to annoy you once in a while. If you ever want my suggestions or advice, just ask. I can honestly say that I've never worked as hard in my life. I did my best to bring my experience, integrity, and creativity to this job.

Thank you for the opportunity and challenge of serving as the MLA for Frame Lake. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. O'Reilly's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6883

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Replies to Commissioner's address. Member for Monfwi.

Ms. Weyallon Armstrong's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6883

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as an elected official, I believe it is my duty to utilize every avenue available to speak up and advocate for my constituents. For that reason, I would like to use this time to respond to the Commissioner's address before the end of the 19th Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, there is only so much time allocated to MLAs to make a Member's statement on each day during session so there is not always enough time to share information with my colleagues. Therefore, I'm going to share my view on a variety of topics that I have not yet had the chance to speak or expand on.

First, Mr. Speaker, I wanted to say that my prayers and thoughts goes out to the people of the NWT and my constituents that have lost family members and friends over the last four years.

Mr. Speaker, when I got sworn in on August 5th, 2021, there were three elders who were here with me in the Legislative Assembly, no longer with us, 99-year-old Elizabeth Michele, 94-year-old elder Philip Dryneck, and my God sister and elder Maryann Football. It is in their honour I continue the work that I do.

Mr. Speaker, I know how difficult it is to lose people that we love. May the Creator help those that are grieving and help us on our healing journey. As a community, we need to continue working together to support each other so we can move forward.

Mr. Speaker, one alarming trend which I and other people have noticed in recent years is the increasingly high numbers of young people who are dying prematurely. We are all very concerned about what is happening in our communities and need to do more to support young people in areas of mental health and addictions. Our elders say it should be younger people burying older people, but in recent years it has been the opposite and this trend seems to be happening across the entire NWT. This should be a priority of the next Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, there are some additional points I would like to share regarding the Behchoko fire, which is numbered Z7015.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, this fire was reported on June 28th. However at that time, ECC said it did not consider this wildfire as a threat. I believe that initial assessment by ECC was a mistake because if ECC had addressed that fire sooner, then we could have prevented a lot of damage. Mr. Speaker, the GNWT fire management policy and control burns, the last one that I am aware of that happened in North Slave region was August 25th, has caused the NWT over 4 million hectares of land burned and that amounts to eight times the size of Prince Edward Island.

Outside of Yellowknife, the majority of the people are Indigenous. It is the Indigenous people who have a unique and powerful connection to the lands of the NWT. These lands have sustained us for thousands of years. Mr. Speaker, it's so disappointing that nowadays everything is measured in terms of dollars. We love our land more than money. For us, our land is priceless. We love our land along with all the plants and animals that live here. So it hurts us, it pains us, when we see such a giant swath of land burn due to wildfires. Not only do these fires destroy homes, cabins, and other structures, but the fire also destroyed sacred sites and traditional lands that are of tremendous value to many Indigenous people across the NWT. As I've said before, there are traplines destroyed. There are hunting grounds burned, millions of hectares of animal habitat lost, and countless animals lost in these forest fires.

Mr. Speaker, that is not even truly considering the human impacts that these wildfires have on people. To the communities who have had had to evacuate this year alone, I know of many people who feared for their lives when they had to evacuate. People did not know if they would get out of those situations alive. Also, Mr. Speaker, considering there is zero cell service on Highway No. 3 between Behchoko and Yellowknife, there were several people who failed to receive the emergency alert to evacuate when the wildfire was getting dangerously close to the cabins and homes along the highway. It is in situations like those, when cell service is essential to have, therefore the NWT is in desperate need of cellular service to be installed on that highway. If there had been cell service, maybe people could have prepared better prior to evacuating.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, when I ran in the by-election two years ago, there were several priorities that I campaigned on which I intended to address upon coming into office. The main issues I wanted to work on was housing and mental health and addictions.

I have worked closely with this government and the Tlicho government to improve programs and services to the four Tlicho communities and other regions as well. Since being elected, Mr. Speaker, I have advocated for a treatment centre to open in the NWT based on the needs of the people and in the regions, for more home ownership opportunities for NWT residents, and for improvements to be made within the child welfare system, among others.

Mr. Speaker, in order to solve the problems facing the NWT, we all need to work together. We need to work together both within this House and with all levels of government, including Indigenous government. If we all work together, then I truly belief that we can all move forward in a good way. Only by working together and supporting one another can we make things better.

Looking ahead, Mr. Speaker, as we near the end of the 19th Assembly, I believe now is the right time for me to formally and publicly announce my intention to seek re-election in the 2023 territorial election as the MLA for Monfwi in Tlicho region. I know there is still much work to do. God willing I will be fortunate enough to be re-elected, I will continue to advocate for people and work on the issues that is most important to our regions.

Mr. Speaker, if elected to the 20th Assembly, I will continue to advocate for people's homes to be be repaired, additional housing units to be built in Tlicho communities. I will also continue to advocate and find ways to make life better for children and families, mental health, their mental health and addictions, as I believe we must do everything we can to improve and the quality of life of our future generations to ensure they will have a bright future.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, I want to add that the new collective agreement for the UNW, Union of Northern Workers, must be a good deal for the employees of the GNWT. Our government must look after their employees, ensure that they have fair pay increases because they have to be able to feed their families as well. As someone who worked within the GNWT public service for 28 years, I know that it can still be hard to get by and put food on the table. Even in a dual income household, there are still difficulties people face.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank, with the utmost respect, all of the firefighters, Canadian Armed Forces, first responders, and volunteers who helped battle all of the wildfires across the NWT this summer. I know that I have been critical of the government on several issues but I do not put any of that fault on the people on the frontline. Firefighters put their lives on the line every time they go out in the field. So on behalf of the Tlicho region, I want to thank all firefighters for their efforts in protecting the people and communities of the NWT. Without you, there would probably be nothing left standing across our territories and regions in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all my colleagues for their contributions and collaborations during the 19th Assembly. While I may not have served a full four-year term, I have learned a lot within the time that I have been in this House. And I intend to continue to cooperate with Members on both sides of the House in the 20th Legislative Assembly. And, Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank all the staff here at the Legislative Assembly who have helped me transition into the position of MLA midway through this Assembly and also to the interpreters/translators from all the regions for keeping our language alive. It is thriving.

Most importantly, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my husband Kevin and families for being there for me. And I'd like to thank all my constituents and residents that have taken the time to share their stories and concerns with me over my term. It is hard to speak of our tragedies and trauma. I really do appreciate that they have trusted me enough to share them with me so I can do a better job. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ms. Weyallon Armstrong's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6884

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Replies to Commissioner's address. Member for Kam Lake.

Ms. Cleveland's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6884

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to start by honouring all of the artists who gave me permission to purchase and honour their work in this House. Mr. Speaker, I stand in front of you today wearing the same earrings that I wore my first day in this House. These earrings are vintage beads set one by one in tanned moose hide by local artist Jessie Lafferty. Jessie's work is pristine, with focused and deliberate skill. In every design, stitch, and finished piece, she carries the mastery of her great grandmother who passed her skills to Jessie. Art is beautiful, but it is far more than a thing of beauty. Art connects people to themselves, is a conduit of healing. Art connects people to one another. Art connects people to culture, land, and elders. Art is an important to our well-being as it is to our shared and individual histories, Mr. Speaker. And Jessie's art marks generations of love, storytelling, healing, and beauty through art.

I believe that art helped me solidify my journey in this House. While my experience as a public servant was invaluable to my understanding and knowledge of government, I believe it was my private industry business experience and the connections with residents afforded to me through my art-based business that solidified my honour in serving the residents of Kam Lake. Jessie's artwork were my good luck charms during the 2019 election and followed me from forum to forum and helped me start my journey here. It's important that we never forget where we came from in these roles, Mr. Speaker, and celebrating northern artists every time I step into your House was, for me, an important reminder of my roots as an artist and entrepreneur and the intimate connections fostered with residents.

Mr. Speaker, my greatest gratitude today starts with the residents of Kam Lake who trusted me to serve them over the last four years. I want to sincerely thank every single one of you who reached out with issues, concerns, and lived experience through e-mails, phone calls, and in person meetings. Working with residents was and truly is the best part of this job. You have made me a better northerner, and I am forever grateful to you.

Mr. Speaker, during the Commissioner's February 2020 address, we had not yet seen a global pandemic or record floods and wildfires spurred by the climate crisis. And as the Commissioner reflected on the mandate of the 19th Assembly, she said, quote, our plan puts people first and recognizes that government succeeds when we support the success of every person in the territory. It is a holistic plan that takes into account the physical, social, wellness, and employment needs of residents. We know that people need a strong and secure foundation on which to grow beginning with the basics of food, shelter, and health. End quote.

This very core foundation was dismantled for so many residents during evacuation. So I would like to start there, Mr. Speaker. Residents' evacuation stories are drastically different.

First, Mr. Speaker, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude to the frontline workers. Folks on the ground did an amazing job both within the private sector and multiple levels of the public sector. For many, that grind has not stopped as they continue to plug away at this year's fire season that got a jump on spring, ravaged the summer, and pushes into fall. So thank you to firefighters, essential workers, volunteers, and all who stepped up. I'd also like to extend a thank you to many other parts of Canada who welcomed evacuees and even offered something special to those who found themselves spread from coast to coast, but especially to Alberta who went above and beyond for NWT residents.

Mr. Speaker, yes, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude. But you can have both gratitude and at the same time anger, sadness, and frustration for what went wrong, the traumas, and losses of residents, and the numerous asks that went unfulfilled. Mr. Speaker, as this government still works on this year's fire season, the next one is only six months away. The next Assembly needs to prioritize public safety and emergency management. Every year of this Assembly has been marked by unprecedented events but at what point does unprecedented become expected, and we accept that our changing world is marked by new highs and lows where the name of the beast might change, but the demands it places on this government are to be expected. In addition to a clearly required emergency business continuity plan to support residents, this government also needs to determine how it supports its workers who are the ones that show up to the frontlines time and time again.

The week of evacuation, I came across a handful of public servants serving different roles in our community. They were undersupported, they had not slept all week long, and were all at their breaking points. People who should have stayed did not, and this left multiple public servants in dire positions, from nurses sleeping at hospitals with no relief, to public servants working solo trying to operate critical infrastructure without the staff, to staff working without tools to serve residents or the authority to create them. But the term essential worker, Mr. Speaker, does not mean lone wolf, working 30 days straight with no reprieve, and then expected to return to work as normal on the 31st day with compensation no different than colleagues who didn't work. This government has a number of public servants who have shown up crisis after crisis in this Assembly, and they are burnt out.

Mr. Speaker, this government needs to sort out its emergency communication and cannot continue its siloed approach. It currently relies on Cabin Radio to consolidate information from multiple social media pages and regurgitate it in digestible form. If Cabin Radio closed its doors tomorrow, crisis communication would be hooped.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard multiple calls and commitments in this House for a fire season and evacuation review. The review needs to be independent, transparent with included itemized costs, and include input from departments, anonymous public servants, NGOs, and the public. Mr. Speaker, not all evacuations were built and supported the same. There was no equity. I recently saw a quote that read, quote, survivors aren't only healing from what they endured but the ways they were treated when they asked you for help, end quote. These stories need to be captured and solutions implemented. What happened this time can never happen again.

But, Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Northwest Territories has no substantive preventative plan to address climate change, no cautionary plan to address changing environments, and no plans for business continuity during an evacuation of our capital city.

Private industry is the backbone of this territory and continues to show up in a big way for residents. I am truly worried for our private sector here in the Northwest Territories. They have weathered storm after storm in an environment that, while resilient, has its breaking point. Through COVID, inflation, and rising interest rates, then evacuations, our private industry is suffering. We need more business, more entrepreneurs, not less, Mr. Speaker. And thriving business communities across the Northwest Territories are markers of a healthy economic environment. And let's be honest, thriving business communities are one of the strongest job securities for public servants. So learning how and not if you can support local industry not only puts food on Northerners tables, but ultimately puts food on your own.

Mr. Speaker, it's not only private industry whose bottom line is in jeopardy. This year, this government had to literally pull back the couch cushions to afford its fire season and subsequent evacuations all but draining the surplus they had worked hard to leave the 20th Assembly. I am worried about the financial state of this government paired with the expectations of Northerners. The 20th Assembly is going to need to continue addressing the continuing costs of this year's wildfire season. Already underfunded municipalities have incurred significant costs as a result of this season, and residents cannot afford to cover these additional costs. The municipal funding gap needs to be a greater focus in the next Assembly. In addition to wildfire expenses, much of the North's infrastructure is coming of age at the same time. This is going to cause significant strain on multiple municipalities concurrently while simultaneously putting added financial pressures on this government as it works to maintain its own assets. This government needs an infrastructure deficit plan, Mr. Speaker, because we cannot afford to have our arenas, schools, or housing fall into further states of disrepair.

This, Mr. Speaker, does not even touch on the continued increasing funding demands on much of the remainder of the system, including education, health care, infrastructure, and yes, MLA O'Reilly, that includes affordable housing. All these northern issues are national issues because they all ultimately relate to Arctic sovereignty and Arctic security. The next Assembly is going to need to make difficult decisions, and the 20th Assembly needs to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations. Psychologists Adam Grant says, quote, when you have an open mind, a challenge to your ideas isn't an attack on you. It's an opportunity to learn something new. End quote. My wish for the next Assembly is to find the balance of spirited debate.

But it isn't all doom and gloom, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in each of these, there are great opportunity. Yesterday Bill 85, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, passed third reading in this House. This marks a historic event and I am both excited and curious to see how this will impact the work of governments. The Education Act will move to phase 2 of a complete modernization of education legislation that stands to truly help support students to become, in the words of Chief Jimmy Bruneau, strong like two people. I am impatient but excited for the work of the homelessness strategy, integrated service delivery, and housing solidifying its place in a social envelope department. To accomplish this work, we need a public service that empowers residents service representatives and not government gatekeepers. And successes need to be measured in outcomes for residents, not outputs by department. I hope to see a 20th Assembly plan that continues to put people first.

Mr. Speaker, the status quo doesn't work anymore. Not for programming, not for service delivery, not for budgeting. But to challenge the status quo, the public service needs to be empowered to work outside the confines of their cubical. People are naturally creative. Not all creative draw, sculpt, paint or bead. For many, their creativity is born in how they see the world, how they interpret solutions, and how they communicate. Some corners of the public service need permission to get creative. Mr. Speaker, there is much work to do but is work worth doing.

Well, Mr. Speaker, this has been an interesting work environment. Nothing could have prepared me for what the inside of this building would be like. I want to thank my colleagues who invited me to their homes, argued passionately about our political differences, and invested in discovering our commonalities. We do not get paid to pick our colleagues, Mr. Speaker, but we do get to serve our constituents by learning about one another and leveraging one another's strength to serve our collective goals. I want to share some of what I am most proud of from our communal committee work.

As Regular Members, we excelled at being stubborn together during budget negotiations thanks to our chair, MLA O'Reilly, and our deputy chair MLA Semmler. In those negotiations, we achieved strong winds that impact all of our residents from funded items like housing dollars to client experience navigators, to business supports, to policy and legislative pushes that will continue to help shape future Assemblies. I was always thankful for our ability to stick together in those moments that mattered to the people we serve.

Mr. Speaker, I was also thankful for our relentless pursuit of holding NWT housing accountable. We heard the Minister say this week that 600 million housing dollars were committed to this territory in the life of this Assembly, and I know we, on this side of the House, played a role in that as well as changing the core values and policies of Housing NWT with our housing motion.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to reflect on more of our work of committee. I had the honour of serving my colleagues as the chair of the Standing Committee on Social Development. I have to say a huge thank you to the multitude of staff that supported our committee work, especially to those who endured the workload of social development. I look forward to our social development meeting later today. I'm totally kidding, and I'm glad you all laughed. We decided at the start of our term that we wanted to work different, Mr. Speaker. My proudest markers of our work were our intentional inclusion and elevation of youth voices in our work. I'd like to thank Home Base YK for their support on this.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, we ensured that we applied three key lenses to all of our work. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice, the Truth and Reconciliation Calls for Action, and the Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I hope these are both practices that continue in the 20th Assembly.

There are no shortages of opinions about people in politics, Mr. Speaker. I didn't grow up wanting to be a politician. I grew up loving the North, its people, and believing in its great potential. And I still do. Mr. Speaker, as we get closer to election, I have had the opportunity to sit down with many NWT residents considering putting their name forward. I want to thank them and congratulate them on even considering it. One of the most common questions is what makes it work. And for me, the answer is support - supportive residents, family, friends, and mentors. This is not a job you can do alone. You need people who will tell you the hard truth, challenge your belief, foster your growth, and sometimes stand you back up, dust you off, and send you back in.

We rely on people outside this room, Mr. Speaker. My support network starts with Leslie Straker. Leslie and I first met when I was a toddler. She worked with my parents in the architectural and engineering division for public works. Her career spanned 30 years of public service where she had the privilege of working with people like John Quirke, now clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. She worked here in this building in the Nellie days. And she worked for executive before she retired, or tried to, in 2019. I have one ask, Mr. Speaker, and that's that none of you in this building tell her that this is not what retirement is supposed to look like.

Leslie's compassion, empathy, knowledge of government, and keen communication skills make her an asset to my support team. I could not have served the people of Kam Lake without her. I'd also like to thank her husband Randy for putting up with our late night phone calls and middle of the night text conversations.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank my fan club. It has two active members - my mom and my dad. Mr. Speaker, I'm fairly confident that I could fall down the stairs of the Great Hall and that my mom would high five me for a great landing. My dad would turn around and offer me advice on how to improve my tuck and roll based on 14 scholarly articles he's recently read. I appreciate that about both of them. I want to thank my younger brother for teaching me compassion and never letting me forget that I am short. I'd like to thank my older brother who tells me when I'm wrong but makes me crumble when he reminds me that he's proud. I also owe an apology to all of his staff who have had to listen to every day that we are in session in their workplace for the last four years.

Session is a crazy time. We are often in this building 12 plus hours a day, working through constituency issues, committee work, and work in this House. As a parent and one with a travelling spouse, I owe a huge amount of gratitude to my in-laws, Bev and Johnny Bowden, who have both prioritized my session and committee work schedule so that I always knew my children were cared for on our late nights.

Mr. Speaker, over a decade before I ran, a woman campaigned door to door here in Yellowknife and was told she shouldn't be running, she should be home with her children. Four years ago when I ran, questions of if I could give this role what it needed and still be a parent with the same values made their way back to me. Another person told me, you know, your kids are only young once as a concession for why I shouldn't run. I felt that, Mr. Speaker -- or I felt that, Mr. Speaker, yesterday as the MLA for Yellowknife South and I updated a four-year-old photo of our five kids in front of the Legislative Assembly. And I still feel that. But I think every working mother, also known as mother, feels that as do fathers and as do caregivers.

In reality, Mr. Speaker, I spent the Assembly chasing the MLA for Nahendeh for the most constituency issues, e-mails sent to Cabinet, sat as the chair of social development supported by my very supportive committee members on this side of the House, and together we reviewed the most pieces of legislation. And later today, I hope to see my Private Member's bill move through third reading.

Before I ran, I spoke with past politicians and the children of past politicians. Their perspective of those who grew up in these halls were incredibly important to me as I made my decision to run. While each of them acknowledged that sometimes they resented sharing their parent, none had regrets and all acknowledged their own growth and unique experiences inside this building. I want people to think about putting their names forward to know that with a solid support team, you can do this job. And I want to thank my colleagues for their role in helping me create a space for my children in this important work.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for welcoming my youngest child Dalyn during our weekend board of management meetings after he had already shared me during busy weeks. I sincerely appreciate that. I want to thank staff for their animated conversations about politics with my oldest son Jackson. But this Assembly's support of my family extended beyond the walls of this building. I want to thank my colleagues for relentlessly cheering on my middle child Owen, and for those that welcomed all of us into their homes and constituencies. Mr. Speaker, I am a mother, and it is my most important job. But we all wear multiple hats. None of us are defined by only one. My kids are both my greatest weakness and my greatest strength. And I want to thank them for sharing me with this role.

Last, I cannot pay enough gratitude to my husband, the first husband of Kam Lake, Yellowknife bud. In all seriousness, Mr. Speaker, I could not have survived this term without his unwavering support. On hard days, he was the one who picked me up, dusted me off, and sent me back in. Throughout this Assembly, he has worked full time, completed his MBA, sprinkled his normal quiet service in our community, and continued his love of volunteer for kids sport. I am incredibly proud of you. He is my champion, my confidant, and he is my lobster. When I told him I wanted to run for MLA and that I wanted to ask for the trust of the residents of Kam Lake he simply said, then do it. And for that, I am forever grateful.

Mr. Speaker, this morning a staff member joked, we can't miss you guys until you leave. So colleagues, I think we have officially worn out our welcome, and I wish all putting your names forward in the upcoming election the very best. And I want to thank those spreading their wings for all of their service in the last four years.

Ms. Cleveland's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6886

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Replies to Commissioner's address. Colleagues, we will take a short recess.

---SHORT RECESS

Ms. Cleveland's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6886

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Replies to Commissioner's address. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Ms. Cleveland's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6886

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Out of respect for Jackie, I think I'll let him go.

Ms. Cleveland's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6886

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. To our elder MLA, Member for Nunakput.

Mr. Jacobson's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6886

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Elder statesman, yeah, I've been here too long. No, Mr. Speaker, as we end the 19th Assembly, I just want to take a moment to reflect on my time serving in the House. At the time, I've been an MLA for Nunakput for three Assemblies. You know, Mr. Speaker, I was first elected in the 16th Assembly in 2007. The Members I was elected alongside with, you know, I just want to honour them today because I've been through a lot before prior to you guys. You know, Michael McLeod, Wendy Bisaro, Glen Abernathy, Paul Delorey, my favorite Speaker and the guy who took me under his wing, just like I took you under my wing, Paul took me under his wing because -- and Paul told me, he says, you know, Jackie, he says I'm doing this because of your uncle Vince Steen, because when he was first elected, Paul, my uncle Vince took him under his wing and took care of him. So when Paul took me under his wing, he took me to the board of management. So it was -- it's a good -- it was a really good friendship, and he was my -- he was my mentor, and I really respect Paul Delorey for what he's instilled in me in honour and being steadfast in your beliefs.

My co -- at the time when I was -- is Jane Groenewegen, Floyd Roland, Robert McLeod, Dave Ramsay, David Krutko. David Krutko was a battlelacks, just like you, Mr. Speaker. He was one of my good friends. Outspoken and always wanted right -- to do right for the people that we represented. And he always said that to us, steadily reminding us. And my good friend Jackson Lafferty. And Kevin Menioche, Sandy Lee. I've never seen Sandy in a long time. I'm going to have to reach out to her. But Norman Yakeleya, Michael Miltenberger, Tom Beaulieu, Bob Bromley, Robert Hawkins, and my favorite Premier Bob McLeod.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all Members of the 16th Legislative Assembly for putting up with me during my first term at the office here. All jokes aside, though, I learned a lot during my first term, especially my fellow colleagues I have a great deal of gratitude and respect for, all from the Members of that Assembly. Moreover, Mr. Speaker, there's an Assembly of Regular Members that was a part of the following committees I sat on. You know, board of management, priorities and planning, government operations, and deputy chair of economic development and infrastructure and at that time, in the 16th, Mr. Speaker, on the 16th I was very happy to see several new developments in my riding of Nunakput. In those days it was -- it's a while ago, but I did a lot for my people. And us as a whole did. This includes the new RCMP detachment but I won't go without saying Calvin Pokiak, the MLA prior to me coming in, he had a big part to do with that too. And I want to thank Calvin for his service. You know, developments in Nunakput communities, the Sachs Harbour detachment in 2008. That year we built Paulatuk in 2010, we had a youth centre built. Tuk hosted, you know, our first hockey clinic in 2011. Ulukhaktok, a new community centre for the community included a youth centre in March 2011. Terminal buildings were replaced in all of Sachs Harbour, David Nasogaluak Jr. Airport in Paulatuk, and then Tuktoyaktuk, the James Gruben Airport, in 2011 as well.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, over the course of the 16th Assembly, I did 224 Members statements. Of those statements and topics, I spoke about still what I'm talking about today - housing shortages, housing issues such as mold, safety levels, housing maintenance and repairs, elder care such as proper facilities in our communities, proper medical service, long-term care, medical travel, mental health, youth sports, doctor shortages including lack of housing for nurses, the shortages of lack of housing and income support our schools -- I'm thankful for the Assembly over the last few years for getting my Mangilaluk School. Thank you, Madam Premier, and Cabinet, for that. For Mangilaluk School, 2007's the first time I brought that up. And how that came up is I went to the school one day. They have 38 staff and they only had one bathroom. But we're going to have quite a few bathrooms so it's going to be good, in the new school, when it's done. Yeah, so the support for schools such as lack of counsellors, you know, mental health supports for our youth, high school dropout rates, the addictions and substance abuse, the economy such as high cost of food, fuel, power, lack of employment in our communities. We're resource rich and cash poor in our riding for oil and gas. And I wish the moratorium would be lifted.

But, you know, one thing we did get going in that Assembly was the highway, Inuvik-Tuk Highway. I remember when I was the Speaker, I started when I was -- in '07, we started. Myself, Mervin Gruben, Russell Newmore, Kurt Wainman, and we lobbied hard, and I -- like, I think I -- at the Explorer Hotel for one month straight one time, 30 days at least for that road, getting stuff ready to get it done. And that Assembly got it through for me. And they were -- and one thing I'll always remember, when they were reading it in to the House at the time when I was a Speaker -- I was a Speaker that time -- I was giving those guys tea and cookies that night. I'll always remember that. And I always joke about that.

But, you know, Mr. Speaker, I was elected in the 17th Assembly in 2011 in that term, as Speaker of the House. That was one of my proudest moments in my life because I was the first Inuvialuit Speaker. And I was mentored by the -- to me, the best Speaker the NWT Assembly ever had was Paul Delorey. And you too. But you're after me. All joking aside, Mr. Speaker, you know it was special to speak have -- be the first Inuvialuit Speaker. I served as Speaker of the House of that Assembly. And the pleasure of working with Mike Nadlii, Wendy Bisaro, Glen Abernathy, Robert Bouchard, Jane Groenewegen, my deputy chair -- or my deputy Speaker at the time, Alfred Moses who I missed and he was part of the Fab Five that time when he came in. I remember that. That was a good time we had with Alfred. Robert McLeod, David Ramsey, yourself, Mr. Speaker, Jackson Lafferty, Kevin Menioche, Darryl Dolynny, Norman Yakeleya, Tom Beaulieu, Bob Bromley, Robert Hawkins, and my favorite Premier Bob McLeod. So where am I -- four -- boy, got long ways to go yet, Mr. Speaker.

Anyways, Mr. Speaker, because I'm telling a story. In the 17th Assembly, among my accomplishments I presided over as a Speaker, a role in the chair of the board of management Assembly. I also at the 17th Assembly, the GNWT -- GNWT of the day began construction of the Inuvik-Tuk Highway Project, and it was a project that was talked about for -- and come, really contemplated for decades. And it was done. You know, every time I drive on that, it's surreal because the efforts and that we put into that road prior to me, it was my uncle Vince Steen that tried so hard for the road and, and that's one of the biggest reasons I'm here today is my uncle Vince Steen that -- that encouraged me. At that time, I was the mayor of Tuk. Encouraged me to run and put my name forward in '07. And that's how I became into the -- as an MLA. You know, I'm very proud of that project. And that was talked about. And as MLA for Nunakput, you know, again, with that project, was -- we were like the A Team, myself and Mervin Gruben and Russell and Kurt to get that done. There was so much work that went into that project.

Mr. Speaker, on the Assembly once again, I was very happy to see developments occur in my riding. Environmental Remediation Project done in Tuk in November 2012. Environmental remediation in Sachs Harbour, same time, to improve safety and sustainability, also in March in 2013 the project funded to mitigate homelessness that provided support and help soup kitchens in the communities I represent, food banks, programs, shelters, food rescue. On May 2013, trapping workshop was held in Ulukhaktok and helped trappers succeed in the fur market and be up to date regulations and standards with technology. And finally, in Ulukhaktok in 2015, the Ulukhaktok was three schools awarded $50,000 pilot project for resiliency program, resiliency and program for students.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, after the short hiatus from the House that time, I was elected once again in the 19th Assembly and now, what do you know, these last four years our territory's been through quite a lot. We've had global pandemics, record breaking fire season, several floods, locally for two years now resupply barges. I'm really happy we got a resupply into the communities for this year. I thank the Minister for that, Minister Archie. And I don't have to worry about the communities not having any food. And delivering the materials up the Mackenzie River. So that's a whole different thing now. We have to really look at that because there's almost no river water running. Nunakput communities are normally does every year that the reasons why the barge could not make it in deliveries due to impacts of climate change, Mr. Speaker. Various natural disasters I've mentioned, which several disrupted service in several communities. In addition, Mr. Speaker, throughout the 19th Assembly, as a Regular Member, I was a part of the following committee, board of management thanks to you, accountability and oversight, rules and procedures. I was the chair, and I want to thank my colleagues on -- Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Simpson Sr.. thank you, guys, and Rylund, for all your support. The committee -- if I missed anyone, I'm sorry. The rules and procedures chair during some Assemblies as well as chair of economic development and environment. And I really want to thank my co-chair Mr. Ron Bonnetrouge for stepping in for a lot this year because we've been through a lot and travel's hard to get sometime, and a lot of family -- personal family matters I was dealing with. And also Mr. Kevin O'Reilly. Thank you, Kevin, for stepping in and helping me and getting my briefing notes when I called you. Thank you. But, you know, and additionally throughout the 19th, I did 132 Member's statements. This covered such topics as housing again, cancer screening, public housing, rental arrears, marine transportation, power rates, COVID plans in communities, power corporation, isolation, the community harvesting assistance programs, as well as evictions to use the power limiters, anti-bullying, income support claw backs, mental health, dental, medical travel escorts, barge schedule, youth, youth sports, offshore drilling, oil and gas, I hope that comes back. We're resource rich and cash poor. Elder care such as long-term care. And that's one thing this -- this Assembly coming forward, we should be looking at smaller health care facilities in the communities instead of sending them to central locations.

Mr. Speaker, and the safety issues of our communities, such as Frank Gruben's been missing. And the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. You know, it was an honour for me to be here when we -- and it was Ms. Semmler and yourself to be a part of the unveiling of the statue. And that, it hit me hard because I have an auntie that went down that and was affected by that. And, you know, when something like that happened, it just brought up a lot of emotion and a lot of memories. And I currently want to thank my colleagues of 19th Assembly for both current and former ones since the by -- by the by-elections, you know, with the Members, you know, again, my -- Kevin, Katrina, R.J., Rocky, Diane, Lesa, Caitlin, Fredrick, Jackson, and then we got Jane. I'm really blessed to have Jane here. She's been a steadfast supporter of small communities and working with us. And, you know -- and working for the people. And she -- she's just awesome. I'm really blessed. Shane Thompson, myself, Caroline -- Caroline Cochrane, thank you for your service. Paulie Chinna, thank you. Freida -- Freida's, yeah, steadfast and probably walking Rambo. You know, and then my friend -- my good friend, still is a good friend, no matter, is Steve Norn. And then brought us Richard. And Richard, you've been steadfast in your commitment to your people that I thank you for that. Richard Edjericon. Julie, thank you. You're the Minister that answered my calls the most when I had health care issues, everything. I want to thank you because you're going to get the Nunakput award for answering your phone from me. But I am thankful. And then Katrina too, like thank you for all what you do in supporting of our small communities. You've got a good heart and you just want to do what's best. And you keep up the good work.

Mr. Speaker, throughout my time in office, I've always sought compassion, honest to speak the power on behalf of my constituents. I want to thank the residents. I know it's been a great honour for me and privilege to serve as MLA at the Legislative Assembly. I want to thank the people of Nunakput that put faith in me in choosing me to be their voice. Don't worry, I'm not done yet, got quite a bit here.

You know, the things -- you know, the little things are going to -- I'm going to miss, you know, are like being here as an MLA from the communities, we're always alone. We work here from eight in the morning. We go home last night at, what, 9:45. And it's just like going to ourself. You're always alone. You never have family. That's probably the toughest thing I've done through the 12 years, Mr. Speaker, of being an MLA is the part of being alone. You know, I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do -- I just work. Never stops. And for myself, I think, you know, the people that I did visit, I'm just going to tell you I'm going to miss you. You know, my friend Grant Beck. Thank you for being there for my, Grant, and your 200 dogs, and we had some good times running dogs, you know. Kirk and Lizzy Fabien, thank you for all the meals, hot cooked meals you cooked for me and invited us over. Also, Charlie Kudluk and Lourdes, thank you for always cooking for me. My sister Pauline makes the best lasagna in the NWT, I know that. And Diane and Myhala Newmark, thank you for always, you know, thinking of me with suppers, late nights. You know -- I'm going to save this one last for you guys here. You know, my family. You know, I want to thanks my brothers and sisters for all my support, my nieces and nephews. You know, as a Member from small communities, most -- you know, we're away for most holidays and stuff like that. The time and pressure that's put on our family and our spouses, and that's the -- is our backbone. Just like you, Mr. Speaker, you know we have children at home. I've sacrificed -- I've sacrificed, Mr. Speaker, my four oldest -- sorry. I sacrificed my four oldest kids for serving my people, and now I got a 10-year-old son. I've been -- I've been gone too long. You know, the -- and I've been blessed -- I've been blessed to do what I do. You know, I got to thank God every day that I wake up and be able to help people and put me in a position like this to do that. For my daughter Chelsea and my son-in-law Justin, Kristin, Matthew, Akeeko, Mitchell, Jema, Miekala, Joseph, and my granddaughter Addison and my son -- or grandson Alexander, and the people that -- my elders before me. Some are still here when I started and some are gone on my list. I got to thank my dad for being steadfast and listening to the stories from him and always telling me to work hard because nothing's gonna to be given to you. My mom Bella, that was my role model, and I see that in my wife, same thing. Georgina and Barney, my biological mother, and Barney my stepdad, Masazumi, he was an awesome man. My brothers Joemboy, Fred, that's all I have left. When I started here, I had six brothers here. And my sisters Pauline, Judy, Martina, Mavis, thank you. We've been a lot -- there's been -- and my uncles -- one of the proudest things too is when I leave this building, it's not only me on that wall, Mr. Speaker. It's going to be my uncle John Steen Sr. was the first MLA for Nunakput. You know, my uncle Vince Steen was a Member here and a Minister. And they did both good work, steadfast and hard. And I tried to go that way. And, you know, and keep that -- I guess it's like a family tradition. And then my uncle Vince again, like I said, he's the one who talked me into running for this. I thank him for that. And rest in peace.

I want to thank -- like I said, I started off with a lot of people back home. Eddie Gruben, Persus Gruben, Bobby Gruben, Mabel Noksana, Stanley Keevik, Jeannie Keevik, my good friend David Nasogaluak, William Nasogaluak, Jimmy Momagana. Thanks Elsie and -- Elsie Klengenberg and my uncle Joseph Uliqsik and the family. And one of the -- and when I first started, put my name forward, I -- I was in Sachs Harbour for a few days and that was with one of my good friends Andy Carpenter. I'll never forget him. I sat on the board of directors with him with IDC for a lot of years, and he did so much for the people. And Andy was one of my go-to guys and my good friend Keith Dodge.

Mr. Speaker, all the mayors in my communities. In Tuk, you got Erwin, Ryan for the community corp. You got Ray and Larry in Paulatuk. And then you got Pat in Ulu for the community corp and Josh Oliktoak in Ulu. Thank you for your service. Thank you for letting me work with you over the years that I've been with you. You know, as a Member, again from the small communities, take -- you know, they should really take -- walk in a mile in our shoes for the stuff that we have to put up with. Like you said it earlier today, so easy to judge people. My job as an MLA, I don't judge nobody. 90 percent listening, 10 percent doing the rest. And I take that to heart. I've been a really proud Member of this Assembly, Mr. Speaker.

You know, the community that is so easy to sit at home and put stuff on Facebook of people not happy. We got to break that cycle, Mr. Speaker. People got to want to -- you know, I always say honour the past, live the present, create the future. And that's what we got to do. People got to want to help themselves. We can't do everything for them. And they got to take the bull by the horn and do it. We can't be doing what we're doing. A lot of this stuff that we're doing, it's been -- the stuff that we deal with in the communities, the amount of funerals that we've gone to -- and I've been to a lot of funerals when you could sing off the handbook and not even need the song sheet. And we're caring. We care for our people, Mr. Speaker. We care for them to make a difference in their lives and the youth. And, again, with our youth, every -- it's so easy to say our youth are our future, our youth are our future, but that's all they say and they don't a back up anything. You got to support them because we got to be hitting them in the communities in the -- when they're like grade 5 and 6 and 7 and instill in them work ethic. Not just video games. Work ethic. And I know you work with your sons and that with fishing and everything, and they're hardworking young men, they're not little anymore, like when we first started. And just like mine, you know, I -- I don't have to do nothing for hunting no more. I got my son. I'm really blessed. And I have all my children.

You know, the most -- again, we -- I'm going to go through this one now. My favorite seat mates I've had since my three terms is Bob Bromley and Wendy Bisaro. Bob Bromley, I called him Big Bopper. Wendy Bisaro, I called her Mother Superior because she was just remind me of some of the nuns in Grollier Hall. But my next favorite seat mate's Mr. O'Reilly, yeah. And I'm really thankful for all of you that, you know, we've been through all what we've been through.

And for myself, you know, I wouldn't be able to do this without my wife. My wife is my rock. I'm so proud of her. She's been putting up with so much. Me being away. Thank God for FaceTime, you know. And we've been -- we've been through a lot. Our family's been through a lot but we're still standing. And I'm still going to do good things. I'm not done yet. I'm so blessed to have you in my life, Jenny, and I want to thank God for that. And I still remember when I got you in lunch line at Grollier Hall. She walked ahead of me and when I seen her at lunch line, I said after you. We were 16 years old. And we've been together -- I'm 51 now. I know I don't look it. But, Mr. Speaker, it's been an honour and a privilege to serve with you.

And this one thing I want to say to my Members, I know I've been hard on everybody. I know that. But I kept it -- I tried to keep it professional. And I checked it at the door. We're all human beings. We all have families. We all got to work together for the betterment of the people and make the right decisions to come and -- the next Assembly, when they come, you know, I -- Mr. Speaker, I wish them all the best because today I'm telling you I'm not going to be running for re-election. I've come to -- I've come to a point in my life that I've outgrown -- to myself I've outgrown this place. I want to go home. I want to be with my son Joseph. He's ten years old. And the rest of my children, my grandchildren now. And, Mr. Speaker, I never had to be here the last term any -- this term anyway. You know, I -- I'm blessed. But for myself, I'm -- there's a new chapter in my life. It's my family. I want to go home. I want to run fish net. I want to run ski-doo, hunt, you know, and have a good time and run my dogs. Yeah, and be a pooper scooper. Because I poop the scoop quite a bit here too. But, again, Mr. Speaker, the staff, thank you. Mr. Rutland, Kim, Mr. Ball, thank you. I'm very thankful for all that you've done for me. To all our interpreters, thank you so much. Quyananni. To all our staff in the back from EDE, we're still number 1. And just remember one thing, folks, just remember one thing, today when I walk out of that door, the next time I'll be here on official Assembly business, is when I get my painting unveiled. You're not going to get away from me yet. Every time you walk through the door of that building, the second pillar says Jackie Jacobson. So just remember, I'm not going to be wasting my time watching this next Assembly. I'll be out doing my other things, what I -- what's important to me. But for myself, my family, I got to put my family first. I got other opportunities coming, which I'm really blessed with that I'm working on. But right now I want to spend some time at home and reconnect with my community and getting back into local politics. If they need help, I'll help them. And I'll still be a strong advocate for Nunakput. And just remember one thing, Nunakput's number 1.

And another thing, I always said, eh Kevin, what's good for Yellowknife is good for Nunakput, yeah. And now what's good for -- and what's good for Ottawa is good for the NWT. Mr. Speaker, quyananni.

Honey, I love you. And now we're going to get out of here pretty quick. So no, again, thank you. Colleagues, thank you. Bless you all. Thank you for all the hard work you've done. It's been a -- it's been a west wind with four-foot waves all the time, but we did it. You could say you did it. And thank you for your service. Thank you. Quyananni.

Mr. Jacobson's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6888

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Replies to the Commissioner's address. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Mr. Edjericon's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6888

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don't know if I could top that. Thank you very much for that, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, thank you. No, I'm just thinking, you know, I've been in Aboriginal politics most of my life. I was on the other side of the table fighting the fights in the trenches for our people. On July 25th, 1900, my great grandfather signed a treaty along with Chief Drygeese, Chief Snuff for Treaty 8. And Mary Rose Sundberg that's here, she's the descendant of Chief Drygeese. And that's why they call this area Chief Drygeese Territory. And so I just want to reflect a little bit about how I ended up being here. And I always think back about my grandmother who always said, you know, you got to help people. Ever since as a child, that's what we've been doing. I often think about my uncles. At a very young age, they taught us how to work. You know, I remember my younger brother and I, we were outside, and he made a sled for us, and -- and a nice sled. And he told me, I bet you can't push your brother around. We were just little guys. So we did. And then the next thing he said oh, I bet you can't put wood in there and bring it over to the warehouse. Oh, no problem. Oh, man. Now, and then he says well, I bet you can't cut that wood on that sawhorse. Holy man, the next thing we were cutting wood. And now that was our job. And so we learned to work at a very young age growing up in Fort Resolution. So, you know, my grandparents had a big part of -- they were a big part of my life in terms of growing up and teaching us traditional values and being honest and work ethics, etcetera.

So our family in Fort Resolution is a big family. We come from a place called Buffalo River. It's, and our last name, if you look at it, if you -- the name that I have now, it was done by the Catholic Church, Edjericon. But when you look at it in the Chipewyan way, it's Jerthicon, you know. But when the transition happened, they couldn't spell it so they wrote it the way it is today. That's what you see here. So I just wanted to just mention that.

But, Mr. Speaker, you know, yeah, I've been involved in a lot of politics, and maybe that's why I am how I'm here today in terms of being so aggressive is that I was on the other side of the table fighting the fights. You know, I fought for housing, education, lot development, anything and everything you can think of, I was part of with YKDFN. And I had a privilege of working with really good chiefs there. And one thing we don't do enough is that, you know, we don't thank our chiefs. You know, when I left being a chief, you know, a few people came up to me and said thank you. But, you know, my colleague here talks about being here late and everything else. I been there, done that, the same thing. I've been up and working 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock in the morning. I'd negotiate three IBA agreements worth hundreds of millions of dollars of mining industry, and -- but after a while, it's tiring. But today I just want to mention as well that, you know, we honoured Chief Eddie Sangris here today, which is good, because I've worked with Eddie, played hockey with Eddie. And they come from a long life -- a long line of chiefs in YKDFN, along with Jonas Sangris. And that family's pretty big. So it is good that -- you know, I just want to say to them that, you know, thank them for their service, and all of the councillors that do this. But I want to say this to all people up and down the Valley, mahsi to all the chiefs and council that -- and the elders that are no longer here. I've been to so many funerals and I think I been to two weddings in my lifetime. And I been to funerals all the time. And it's tiring. But, anyway, that's how we grow, and I'm starting to think I'm like an elder now, you know. But anyway, it's just -- it's that feeling when you say thank you. It's really good. And I know I just want to say that to all the chiefs and band councillors up and down the Valley.

And when I first got here and I walked across that door, I didn't know what I was getting into. I know when I was a chief, I used to come and meet with the Premier or Ministers and that kind of thing. We had good relationships. But back in the '90s and 2000s, we did a lot of good stuff for Dettah and N'dilo as well. And at that time, we were dealing with people like Premier Joe Hanley, you know, and he was our MLA. So it was a really good time. But today, you know, when I walk through these doors here, you know, I'm trying to understand how this whole institution works. And what I know is we got a $2.2 billion budget. We got $1.6 billion coming from Ottawa -- sorry, for the deficit that we're in, capped off at $1.8 billion. But 75 cents on the dollar comes from grants and contributions. And so essentially the financial situation we're in today, I could say that we're broke. It's how we have managed and moved forward. And so when we talk about consensus government, I'm still trying to deal with that because at YKDFN chief and council meeting we're in, we sit amongst ourselves around the table and we agree on a budget, and we -- you know, we have a good discussion and debate and finally agree on something. So to me, I thought that was consensus. But on this side when I come here, you know, then I -- we got Cabinet on that side. That's put there by the people in this Assembly. And sometimes, you know, I go home at night; I tell my wife that sometimes my hands are tied. You know, as much as I want to bring an issue forward for my constituent, then I bring it to the Minister, the Minister sends it to the deputy minister, and so on. And it goes back -- it comes back to me and he said oh well, you know, I'm sorry, the policy says this. You know, and that's disheartening for me because, you know, the issues in our community are real. Housing is real. Homeownership repairs are real. And I hear it today. And, you know, that's why when I come here, people may see me being very aggressive. But it's not about that, because I'm here to be their voice and convey what the issues are. And I know. I know all the issues at the local level. I've been there. At the regional level I've been there. You know, the Akaitcho spokesperson I was there. So coming here, it was really interesting for me but now that I understand how this whole institution works, and -- and how it functions is really interesting. But I had the privilege of working with really good people here. Good colleagues around the table. The staff here at the Legislative Assembly, really good. You know -- so anyway, I just kind of want to mention that. And I just want to say some thank-yous.

First of all, my wife is here. She surprised me. I didn't think she was going to be here, you know, and for about four years, she's been working all over the country trying to -- you know, to work on her teacher education and get some experience and that. Now she's working on her masters, and she'll be done probably by next year this time. So anyway, my wife now, I had to relearn that I can't tell jokes or how to speak properly because she corrects me. So but, you know what, she what's been the biggest supporter for me. She's my rock, you know, and we like two stepping. But anyways, I just want to say thank you to my beautiful wife. I love you. I also want to say my son, who is in Saskatoon, his family, Kelsey, Adam, Kaiden, my grandson -- oh by the way, I got two dogs. One -- pug. His name is -- her name is Sophie. Anyway, her and I watch TV. We watch Men in Black. Oh and man, she just gets excited. But anyway, and we have another dog. A French dog, bulldog. A French bulldog. And her -- his name is Rocky. So anyway, honestly, when I get home after we come here -- by the time I leave here, by the time I get home is about 10 o'clock, and she'd be just barking at me saying where were you, what were you doing, how long were you gone for. So that's -- it's like that. But anyway, I just want to just thank my wife and my family and my mother-in-law, Dolly Simon in Fort Resolution, my sister, my auntie, my uncles, all my relations up and down the Valley. And in Fort Resolution, you know, the people there it's great to -- it's an honour to actually stand here today and say that -- you know, to serve them and to help where I can. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. I don't drink or anything like that. You know, and when we're chiefs, the elders, they frown on that kind of thing. They're trying to guide you. So I'm here because of that. But, you know, I just want to thank the people in Lutselk'e, Dettah, N'dilo. And, jeez, it's been a long haul I guess, because, you know, it's like being chief all over again. Just 24/7. You think we go home at 8 o'clock and be done at five, but it doesn't work like that. And it's been tough. But, you know, when I go home, supper's ready. When my wife's doing her work, you know, I -- I cook. I clean. I do all that stuff. It's all because she's busy with her education. And I'm a big supporter of that.

So, Mr. Speaker, I just also want to say thank you to my CAs. When I first got here, I didn't know what the process was but I know is that, you know, I had the privilege of working with people like Shirley Tsetta on band councillor etcetera, and she worked for De Beers so she knows the industry side of it. So I've asked her, and it just so happens she was just laid off. So I picked her up and said come work with me. And she's been really good to me. Also, former Chief James Marlowe, he helped me out for a while. And in Fort Resolution, I have Warren Delorme and his wife Velma. They do so much for me. Whenever I'm going there and -- to Fort Resolution, they cook. They invite me to come over. When I go around through Fort Resolution and go visit the elders, they always say hey, we got soup on for you, or whatever. And we go there and eat. And if not, my mother-in-law does it all the time. You know, so that's really -- that's really good. And anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to all my constituent members for giving the support, especially the elders. This -- a few months ago we lost an elder Robert Sayine who was a Member of the MLA here, chief as well. And I'm going to miss him because he would phone me. Doesn't matter what time or night, he would say hey Rick, regarding this bill, this is what I think. Or he would give me advice. And I think he done that to Kevin as well, you know. And I really appreciate that but I'm going to miss him because, you know, his -- he's got a beautiful wife May and his whole family. You know, it's a big loss to our community. He had so much knowledge, you know. And he phoned me up one day and he said hey Rick, there's nobody on CBC Radio for Chipewyan hour. So we sent a letter to CBC and about a month later, we were up in the air. Oh, he was happy. It's because the network the elders have in the community, the elders would go to him and then he will come to me and visa versa. So I found that really interesting. So it's elders like that we're losing that, you know, I really -- it's a privilege and honour to know these elders that are there.

But anyway, again, I just want to say the other thing is when we meet here, you know, I've been to so many Dene Nation assemblies, Akaitcho assemblies, Tlicho assemblies, and we can't do it without the translators. You know, the translators here, I want to say thank you. Mahsi. You know, if it wasn't for you, you know, all this information here wouldn't get out there. So I just want to say thank you to each one of yous. And also the cooks, I know we have food brought to us sometimes and that. And I just want to say mahsi to them.

But most importantly, in my riding, you know, I just want to say thank you to Chief Louis Balsillie. You know, he calls me all the time and all kind of issues, especially during the evacuation. And it -- and also Chief James Marlowe, Lutselk'e Dene First Nation who was just recently elected. Chief Fred Sangris from N'dilo. And the new chief for Dettah Ernest Betsina. Also, I work with president Arthur Beck with the Fort Resolution Metis Council and the NWT Metis Nation Gary Bailey. So you know, I go to their assemblies. You know, we have good food. You know, we get to visit elders. It's great when I go to these assemblies. I feel grounded. Sometimes when I leave here, I -- something's off. But when I go home into the communities, I feel so grounded because when you go to the drum dance or go to have tea with elders, I feel good. But for me in the last few months, it's been really interesting because my colleague here, we talk about North Slave region and South Slave region but yet the Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh riding, we're mixed in with the North and South Slave region. Our funding that we get as a government is split into these areas. But yet, you know, I'm sitting here today as a Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh MLA. But the way it's set up in this system, it doesn't happen that way. So when we say that I get less than half a percent of $2.2 billion for my riding, but we're rolled into the North and South Slave region, so I'm hoping that will change shortly in the new future because we need to separate that because at the end of the day, once you do that, you going to see the real numbers, what is really spent in our communities. And I been saying all year, last year and a half, that small communities do matter. And we do.

Mr. Speaker, you know, we have claims in the North. We have self-government agreements. They're all constitutionally-protected land claim agreements. And in the last little while, and even this few days ago, my colleague Kevin had talked about constitutional reform. Well, in committee, when these guys -- the departments come here and they ask for more money, you know, and I go look at my budget book and everything else, every year consistently it's been going up. But really what's the benefit to my community I say? And so anyway, what I'm trying to say here is that the day is going to come when we really need to take a look how we're going to coexist here in the North with settled claims. How is this institution going to be looking like? In the early '80s, they had the Jim Bourke report. I think we need -- it's time now to really take a look at that. And as a new government coming in, that's something we're going to have to talk about.

Mr. Speaker, again, I just want to thank all my colleagues, my constituents, my CA, all the elders. I'd like to thank the Premier for your service, all the Cabinet for your service, all my colleagues for your service, and all the leaders here in the Northwest Territories for your service. I want to say mahsi.

I know that I'm probably not the easiest guy to work with, but you know what, I'm consistent and I'll follow up. But most importantly, Mr. Speaker, is that I just want to say thank you to you and your family as well. And, you know, it's a tough time, you know, for everybody in the last few months, and in -- and finally, we could breathe fresh air now, you know. But anyway, it's good that we're talking today and saying our last speeches here, and the work that we've done in our communities doesn't end. Just because we leave here, it doesn't end. So we will be working the phones. We will still be calling the department and all that stuff.

So Mr. Speaker, one more thing I was going to say is that one thing I was told never give a mike to a chief. But anyway, I just want to say that they have many -- people of Tu Nedhe community of Fort Resolution, I want to recognize the dedication, commitment, and efforts to help those in need during the fire evacuation this summer. The community of Fort Resolution was not designated an evacuation centre by the GNWT; however, the community of Fort Resolution hosted over 80 evacuees from the town of Fort Smith, the town of Hay River, Yellowknife, and they welcomed them into their homes. At Mission Island, they had cabins, the Four Season B&B, breakfasts, and the Beaulieu Hotel. During the fire evacuation, the community of Fort Resolution had no internet, no phone, no cell service for over a week. And thank you to Starlink for providing services, and they were good to us. Anyway, the community volunteers made several trips to High Level to purchase groceries and to ensure they had adequate gas and diesel supplies for the residents of Fort Resolution. During the fire evacuation, Chief Louis Balsillie, Deninu Kue First Nation, president Arthur Beck, Fort Resolution Metis Council, ran the culture camp for three weeks to provide food and traditional -- sorry, provide traditional food and activities to ease burden off the evacuees to distract them from the scary situation we were faced so they could -- would be welcome in the community during these difficult times for everybody in the community in the South Slave region. I just want to say thank you to the volunteers Chief Louis Balsillie, Carol Ann Chapman Jessica Sanderson, Brandon Beaulieu, Dolly Simon, Martina Jerome, Eddie and Dee Lepine, and they're all other communities residents who assisted by accommodating, feeding, and caring for their displaced families, members, and friends.

Mr. Speaker, the Fort Resolution Metis Council was also involved in the culture camp. Again, I want to thank John Delorme, Brandy Miersh, Alicia Sanderson, Archie Smith, Jaylyn Voice, Harlan Mandeville, Sheyda Lafferty, Kaden McNabb, Lyndon Beaulieu. I want to say thank you for your help during this difficult time.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I just want to say -- oh, I'm just kidding, another two more minutes. But anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to all my colleagues and the staff, the pages, and it's an honour to be here to serve the people here in the Northwest Territories. And especially my wife and my family. Mahsi.

Mr. Edjericon's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6890

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Replies to Commissioner's address. Member for Great Slave.

Ms. Nokleby's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

October 6th, 2023

Page 6890

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to try to do this one from the heart because for me that's when I feel like I always am able to speak my best. So I've got a couple notes here and I'll forgive -- everybody will have to forgive me if I forget to mention someone that has been there for me.

I first just wanted to start with my personal staff that had helped me through the last while starting with my MSA, when I was a Minister, Krista Elander. Also my campaign manager. And as well Colleen O'Connor who was my constituency assistant for the majority of my time here in the House. I don't think she's here, but Colleen saw me through what was probably one of the toughest moments of my life, and as well including the death of my mother, and I wanted to thank her for that time. My current constituency assistant, Maggie Mercredi, I can't thank Maggie enough. Maggie is my sounding board. Maggie is my weathervane. Maggie is my teacher, my instructor. The conversations that we have and the things that I have learned, particularly around the privilege that I hold as a white woman in this country and in this nation, I can't thank her enough for that perspective that she gives me. And I'm honoured to call her my friend as well as my assistant. I would be remiss if we talked about all the staff in this building, and I didn't bring up the security guards, the security guards who have made me feel fairly safe given that I've had a little bit of a bumpy ride here and who knows, when people get passionate about things how it's going to go. And I've always known that security had my back, plus they were the recipient of a lot of my corny jokes as I came in to the Assembly every day. So I appreciate their time. And unfortunately Bob is now gone, he was also my constituent. So I always enjoyed chatting with him.

Speaking of my constituents, they have been through a lot with me. I know that there are many that are probably not too happy with me at the moment but there are a lot that have reached out in support. I would be remiss if I didn't bring up probably everybody's favorite Canada Day parade participant Merlin Williams and his wife Joyce who have provided just a huge amount of support to me over the last four years and just keeping me going as well as providing me some of that dry British humour that I miss from all my great uncles who were Scottish and loved a good joke. Although they are Welsh so I will not, you know, conflate the two.

I think a huge thing for me has been the committee work, which I often tell people the sessional piece is not really that important to me. I find this to actually be the part of the job that I don't -- I mean, I like to get up, it's fun to put on the earrings and the clothes and etcetera, but to me the real work is the work that we've been doing in our committees and our advocacy work. And I'm really, really proud of the two committees that I sat on, besides the AOC, which was the Standing Committee on Social Development as well as the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment. Both were very lively. Both were very informative. I'm a lifelong learner. My parents the were educators, I've mentioned that many times in this House, and the things that I have learned just from being a part of these committees has blown my mind. And I know that no matter what happens in my path forward, the information and the knowledge that I've gained from that work is going to serve me no matter where I go and will allow me to continue on the path of advocacy no matter whether I sit in this House doing so or somewhere else in this territory.

This role really is about relationships. Relationships across the House, across the floor, but relationships also with our colleagues, relationships with our staff and relationships with our constituents and our neighbours. I've been very grateful to have made great friends in this Assembly. I really want to give a special shout out, though, to my colleague the MLA for Monfwi. We've had a great time sitting here much maybe to your chagrin a few times, Mr. Speaker, when we get chatting. I just want to say that the power of this woman is that she is probably the only person in my adult life that has ever gotten me to pray on a bible. And if you know me, Mr. Speaker, that is a huge thing. And I think it speaks volumes to the faith and commitment that Jane has and the heart that she has brought to this Assembly and the support that she has shown me. I am really grateful for your support and your friendship, Jane, as well to you, Jackie, we've been a big supporter in keeping me coming back into this House time and again.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't speak about all my colleagues. I've watched everybody transform and change over four years. I don't even recognize myself from when I came into this House. I remember feeling so scared and intimidated. Haylee Carlson being that bright smile to make us all feel a little bit less scared. But it's funny to me now when people talk about the intimidation or feeling like the awe of coming in here that I no longer have that same feeling of fear that I had when I walked in. And to me, as a person who has struggled a long time in my life with confidence and esteem, the ability to now walk into this Assembly and feel like I belong here is a huge growth for me and speaks volumes to the confidence I now have in myself that has been instilled in me through this work.

I would have to say to you, Mr. Speaker, specifically thank you. Thank you for tolerating my, you know, challenging of process and rules at times. I know the clerk's office has also been kept on their toes by me. I'm a firm believer that change doesn't happen unless we sort of push forward and batter, and I know sometimes my battering ram is a little bit maybe oversized for what it needs to be; however, it's always been done with the intent to make the change that's good and right for this territory. And I thank you for always having a sense of humour while you do this and while you deal with me. So much appreciated.

I had already mentioned before the translators. I am a fast speaker. I am the youngest of four kids, I had to speak a lot to get words in when I was a child, and I think that's translated on now as well as having been a consultant where time was money. We didn't have a lot of time to spend choosing our words often, and so we just plowed ahead. So thank you to the translators and the interpreters for bearing with me, but also thank you for all of your kind words of support. Many times I walked out of this Chamber after a very, very difficult day not knowing many of you from before -- or not knowing hardly any of you from before, but you have said words to me that encouraged me, that have kept me going. I don't have family in the territory. I don't have any family anymore that's of a certain vintage. And so I do really appreciate that the elders, I feel that you have welcomed me and embraced me and encouraged me and I thank you so much for that.

Sorry, I just got to find my notes here.

There are a few things that have happened here in this last one that I want to take forward to the 20th Assembly and areas I think that are important for them to focus on. My speech today or my statement today was on the infrastructure deficit. I can't stress enough what that is doing to us as a territory. When you are constantly playing catchup on things, you're spending more money to do that catchup than you would if you had the right money to begin with. That's a huge thing and lesson in consulting. In engineering, you need to put the money upfront to do so right. And so I think that's something we really need to take forward in the next Assembly is get that Mackenzie Valley Highway built.

The next piece I think that is probably the most important -- well, I say that, and then every time I say that I think of about 40 other things that I feel are equivalently important. And I think I'm a bit cursed sometimes with that bigger picture, you know, and interconnectivity ability to see that, so. Addictions and mental health. I've been a huge proponent of mental health supports. And, Mr. Speaker, I've been very frank; I spoke about it earlier today to the CBC. I struggle from depression and anxiety. And I think that has been something that when I have people that come to me in this territory that are suffering, that is the piece that I have been able to relate to them on and to really see that if you don't have safety, you don't have security, which comes into the housing piece we talk a lot about, you will not have good mental health and you will not be able to do anything in your life. It is just something that is all encompassing. The addictions, I personally try to help many people -- I've got a lot of ideas on that that I won't waste our time here today speaking about, but I think to me that has to be one of the top priorities of the 20th Assembly. I also spoke this week about proactive climate change and emergency response. As an engineer, iterative process, learning from our mistakes, living documents, standard operating procedures, all of these are things that I think are very important, things that I helped and hoped to bring to the Assembly as an MLA and something that I think we really need to be looking at and being smarter with our government day-to-day work and ensuring we're doing it efficiently.

And lastly, I just -- on this part is I wanted to speak a little bit to the federal engagement. I do say -- have seen an increase to the hundred percent dollars. And kudos to us all, I think, as a group for being able to be vocal and loud about some of the issues that we're facing. I have to say as much as COVID has been a terrible thing for us, I think in some ways it did us a little bit of good in highlighting to the federal government just really how behind the 8 ball we really are in here in the territory. And I do think some of that hundred percent dollars is a result of them finally having an understanding of what it means to get food into Ulukhaktok or into, you know, Sachs Harbour. And I think that it's important that the next Assembly utilize our unique consensus government to create relationships not only with the ruling federal party but also all of the opposition parties as well. We all know in this House that everybody comes to us on this side when they want to push on that side. So we need to be doing that more strategically as a territory and leveraging relationships with all three federal parties to get what we want and get them at each other in the House just like the municipalities do to us here, Mr. Speaker.

Another majorally important part to me in all of this, and pretty much actually the moment that I made a decision to ever get into politics, had to do with working with youth and women and advocacy of women in being in leadership roles. As I've mentioned before, and you may not remember this but I'm an engineer, Mr. Speaker, and I have spent my entire career dealing with a lack of female representation in my profession. It was from advocating for more women in the -- discipline of engineering that led me to become a politician. I remember specifically sitting with a group of Pathfinders, which is the teenaged-age girls in Girl Guides and thinking to myself about a work event I just had and wondering where was my voice, what was this. And then I looked at these girls and I thought to myself, I don't want them to become 40 years old and wondering why they don't have any voice in their government, why they don't have any say, why they still feel second class. And, Mr. Speaker, for me, that was the reason that I ran for office. And one of the best things that I've had doing here was participating in the youth parliament and being one of, I hope, the most enthusiastic pages that they've ever seen. And so to have the youth with us, to have the pages here, the youth parliament, something we missed out on during COVID, has really impacted me and to being a role model to those youth and especially young girls, that is one of the most important things I carry out of this Assembly.

And as I said before, just the transformation of myself, I'm grateful for who I've become, the strength that I've learned and, yeah, the path that I find myself suddenly on versus where I thought I was going to be maybe ten years ago.

I had hoped my colleague for Thebacha would still be here because I wanted to give her a bit of a shout out because she's always talking about Rambo so I really wanted to mention my two cats, Piper and Sophie who, honestly, Mr. Speaker, we can -- I know this is a territory that loves their animals. But when you are a single person, and I heard my colleague speak to coming home and not having their family around, that is my reality every day. So I have to admit those cats have gotten me through some tough times. And, you know, I can't stress enough the importance of the animals. And I love that we have an Assembly where we embrace that; a territory where we embrace animals as part of our life and our well-being.

I don't want to belabour on this one either, but I do want to say thank you to everybody that supported the evacuation efforts in the last while as well as those that supported through COVID. We would not have been able to do a lot in the last while without our sister provinces in the south - Alberta, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, BC, the Yukon. Everybody that helped us to take care of that, the firefighters and the army.

Last, Mr. Speaker, a couple of my colleagues here have touched upon their influences in their life and who they were and what was important to them. And I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that on October 4th, my mom would have been 80 years old. This would have been a very significant date for her, and it wasn't lost to me that it was the day that they unveiled the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls monument. My mom has always instilled in me a strong -- and my dad, a very strong passion to stand up for people who can't stand up for themselves. And so to me, it was very fitting that for her 80th birthday, I was able to stand there and do something so monumental. It is a day that I won't forget, and I was able to mark it in a different way for me than, you know, just spending a day of missing her. One of the things that my mom and my dad did for me was that they have instilled in my empathy and compassion. And that is what I bring to this role; traits, that I believe have made me the leader that I am today. And, Mr. Speaker, I'm really proud of the leader that I am today. People can say what they want to say. They can find my faults and my flaws. I've never denied them. That's the, I think, the nature of the engineers is we're just going to tell you how it is. And I take that so much to my heart, the oaths that I've taken as an engineer and as an MLA. But at the end of the day, I can tell you that I have done everything in this House with good intent, with the mindset of the people of the Northwest Territories at heart. And that will always be my motivation. If I am sitting in this House, or whether or not I'm on some other path, I know that going forward I will always be here helping and advocating. I don't see myself going back to taking water samples, Mr. Speaker. So with that in mind, I just want to say again thank you to all my colleagues. You know, I know it hasn't been easy. I have never been the easiest Member in this House, I will acknowledge that, I admit it, but at the end of the day I sure made it interesting. Have a good day, Mr. Speaker.

Ms. Nokleby's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6891

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Replies to Commissioner's address. Member for Sahtu.

Ms. Chinna's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6891

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it has been a remarkable experience to be here and to be a part of this government. In the past, I was always so critical of the government and their process but respectfully I did work for the GNWT. I worked for them for 20 years. And I gained a lot of experience at that level. I worked for several departments. I could not help but to constantly be critical and constantly ask questions about their programming and why do we work at a snail mail pace. But I tried painfully to be a part of those changes and understand their process. I wanted to be in this position. I thought of this position as -- when I was a student. I was 14. I wanted to be a politician. So I worked frontline. Always found this challenging working for the GNWT because I always had questions. I wanted them to be answered today. But then I soon realized that I come from a different generation. I'm very familiar with the history of the territory. And I witnessed evolving of this government from the beginning, watching the days and listening to COPE, the Committee of Original Peoples Entitlement, and the Indian Brotherhood, and also including the creation of Dene Nation and the original intent at that time was to enhance treaty rights and work side by side with the territorial and federal government, and finally the creation of the GNWT.

So, Mr. Speaker, today I sit here a part of history. Thank you to my riding, the pillar, the region of rich, strong, political history with innovative solutions. And with their strong political influence and partnership in the Northwest Territories, I want to start to speak about the beginning and the days of John T'sellie, being the first MLA representing the Sahtu. With his passion to work in respect of Indigenous rights and treaties, we then evolved into the days of Stephen Kakfwi, who served as Minister and former Premier, who led the territory towards the economy and fueled our territory to recognize our treaty rights but also leading into natural resources and into the opportunities to discover the interest into diamond mines, oil and gas, but most remarkable, to lead the influence to settle land claim agreements throughout the Northwest Territories. That's when we had money and flexible funding. And then I recognized the efforts of former MLA for the Sahtu Norman Yakeleya who, in his days, witnessed the completion of the Sahtu Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement. And then we move on to Danny McNeely for his influence for the Mackenzie Valley Highway.

But in my time, I reflected on two ladies who have strong influenced my career. The former MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew, secretary for state, children and youth. She became the first Indigenous woman from the Northwest Territories to represent the North and also to speak her Indigenous language in the House of Commons. And second is former female chief for the Inuvik Native Band that represented us throughout the Northwest Territories, respectfully Cece McCauley.

With all this rich history, I'm sitting here today as the first Indigenous woman to represent the Sahtu region as a Member of the 19th Legislative Assembly. Mr. Speaker, that path has been paved for me and for future leaders to walk in these footsteps and continue the legacy. Our rights, our time to work side by side.

I want to acknowledge my colleagues here in the House. I've learned so much from your leadership, your style, your skills, your debates. Together we have led the territory through the most challenging of its time and right to the very end, we're still talking about the fires and the recovery right up until the very last day. We are still working together to find solutions for the better of the Northwest Territories. And just to reflect and a reminder, the pandemic, the floods, the fires, the extreme low water levels, brought us all to have several debates and hours of sitting in the House to make the best decisions for the Northwest Territories. Of course, we did not agree with everything. We all wanted our say. We all got our say. Respectfully, in time, but sometimes more time than required, we all got the opportunity to speak.

I want to also thank from the bottom of my heart in trusting me and voting me to be elected as Minister to sit on Cabinet. It has been a remarkable experience. It has been something that I didn't expect. When I got voted in as MLA and we sat and we were trying to collaborate and trying to think of how is this Cabinet going to be structured, it is -- it's a complete honour to be sitting here as a Cabinet Minister, an Indigenous woman coming from a smaller community. We're having these discussions. I've lived them. I've been there. The conversations are pretty much about a number of us, and I'm here to represent them. Thank you to the Premier for assigning me to the responsibility of Housing, Workers' Safety and Compensation, Public Utilities Board, and Homelessness. And thank you to my Cabinet colleagues for your support and countless conversations of encouragement. I remember when I first got elected, I chose my office to be in the middle of the lawyer and the engineer. At that time, I was fascinated by their accomplishments, but then soon realized the unique and several and so many skills in this House. I knew I was going to be a part of a remarkable team and debates were going to be extraordinary. We all wanted what was best for the North. We are all passionate. We all have history here. And we all care. So today I want to acknowledge the work in each of our portfolios. And for myself, I carry, and I want to begin with housing. The historic changes we did make. The first I'm most proud of is the repaired relationships with Indigenous governments, the signed agreements, trusting our partnership and respectfully including the departments and the debates to address housing in their communities. Also, working relationships with the federal governments have improved. Together we've developed a unique approach identifying the realities of the North. With a massive $600 million in the North, 100 units, new builds, 50 new homeowners, employment in smaller communities, and a huge work that is completed by the federal government, federal applications, and the engagements.

I want to thank my colleagues on the other side, my Cabinet colleagues. We've done this together. At this time, I want to remember former president Tom Williams and former Minister of Housing Alfred Moses. I hope I continued your legacy, your commitment, and your passion for the people of the Northwest Territories. Throughout this government, it was most difficult to say my last respects and knowing I would lead this portfolio without you. I hope I did you both well. And I gave it all that I had. I tried my very best. And mahsi to both of you for your time.

To the Public Utilities Board, for all your support and your time, you've made me feel confident in the position and provided your expert advice and your knowledge. I greatly appreciate it.

To the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission, I want to thank you for the extreme knowledge and support on this file and the briefings were excellent. But, once again, thank you for handling files in such respect and passion to assist the people of the North. But most respectfully, I did experience a death in the Northwest Territories that was very tragic to my family, and I carried this portfolio and I had to show up every day to work and, respectfully, my team did not share that information with me. Thank you so much.

Homelessness, as we work towards, there are many avenues to this file we do carry. I want to thanks Housing NWT and the employees that administer this file. Your work does not go unnoticed. Thank you for coming up with unique solutions and developing the respectful partnerships.

With all this work, I don't do this alone. I had the experts. Ms. Heather Nekako, thank you for being my pillar, my strength. When times got so challenging, I felt so defeated. Your perspectives, your knowledge helped me to get through those difficult times. Thank you. Jean Yuris, thank you for your time and keeping my organized. Your work ethic is so impressive. You kept me alive. Thank you to Larissa Stewart for working with me. Until the end it's been heartfelt with all that it takes to support this office and to work together to keep each other focused. You kept the determination, at times it was so frustrating, but we did it. Thank you for keeping me on time and thank you for preparing me. And Kevin, it's been a great experience to be working with you with so much knowledge and skills to work with the people, working directly with the MLAs. You've built those relationships in such a short time, and I respect that. It's what's made a huge difference for us in this office and in the portfolio. Your friendship and expertise is very much appreciated.

And now I want to thank the people of the Sahtu who voted me to be here to represent you. I want to thank the Sahtu leadership who provided guidance and endless support. I don't have any favourites in the Sahtu, but I just wanted to acknowledge Ekwahtide Danny Gaudet and president Erutse. For when I first got elected, he said you know you're going to be the first female that's going to be sitting at this table, you got to be tough, you got to be strong, and there's no going in the corner and crying and getting emotional. You got to show up, get this work done. And one of the strongest statements that he had made is don't complain if you don't have a solution. Move on.

I also want to thank my CA Natasha Takazo who has been here and with me side by side and who has supported me extremely throughout the portfolio. The thing that I admire about her the most is that had spoken Indigenous language so our communication to the Sahtu was excellent. We were able to reach out to everybody during my term.

And I also want to say thank you to my daughter Kayla. She has taken the responsibility of her sister. She does have Mya with her in school, which gives me the opportunity to be here to serve my four years, to be focused, to be rested, and for me to fulfill my own passion, and I'm able to do this clearly. I also want to thank my supports, Verna, Lucy Ann Antoine, and Denise Voudrach. Thank you for answering my calls when things got so hectic and I wanted to find a solution yesterday and I need to get this done tomorrow. Thank you. And to my nephew Easton Dane, Jonah, Audrena, and I also want to just acknowledge Lexie who told me, Auntie, you work too much, you're never here. So she's going to bring her bag of clothes. She's going to set up a room in my house so when she gets there, she doesn't have to transport her clothes back and forth. And so heartfelt that she's waiting for me today. And our kids and our families sure take a backseat when we uphold these positions. But it's with the passion that we do have in our heart. It's what we want best for the Northwest Territories. We all come with unique perspectives, and we also come with different set of skills. When I got this position, I wanted to be -- I wanted to inspire the youth. I wanted to inspire the Indigenous people, kids, people who want to make a career change. I grew up as a foster child in the Northwest Territories, and I was -- I was thought of that I would never be successful, that I could never be educated. So I know what it's like to be sitting in those homeless, homes. I know what it's like to be sitting on the streets and people don't give you the time or day. But in this position, I want just that simple outreach, especially as a leader, just to be telling those young people even though you're struggling with addiction, tomorrow's a new day. You get up, and you try a little bit harder. You learn from today. You just keep on ongoing. Life is not meant to be lived easy. You have to have challenges because you've got to grow. You got to become the person you need to become. And the most -- the message that I have out there is that we need you. We need our young people to work with their addiction. We need to help them. We need to understand them because they need to fill our seats. A lot of us are retiring. Now there is five of us that are leaving from this table. I don't know what the North is going to look like but I hope I inspired Indigenous youth or the person at home that just wants to have a career change that has been in a position for 20 years and that wants to leave. Live your dream. It's possible. And I hope I've served you well. Thank you so much to the other side for the amount of advocation you've done for me and I mean, for the portfolio. You've given us a lot of money to work with. Not extremely, but it was enough. And we were able to get funding from the federal government. That was all from the push from the other side. Thank you so much. And there's nothing that has ever been taken to heart. Anything that has coming forward, I was looking for a solution, what is it that I need to bring back. If I can't get houses on the ground, then how can I get houses on the ground and the key was Indigenous governments. I needed to improve my relationships. And I needed Ottawa to understand and recognize those federal agreements do mean something. There is an obligation there to meet. Thank you all so much. Mahsi. And I wish everybody well in the election coming up. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Ms. Chinna's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6892

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Sahtu. Replies to Commissioner's address. Member for Range Lake.

Ms. Cochrane's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6892

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise today to talk about the relationships I formed during my time in this Assembly. I will begin with Indigenous governments and organizations. I'm proud of many things we've accomplished during this term but if I was to pick one, I would say it's forming the Council of Leaders as a place where all leaders are invited and have a place to discuss programs and services aside from those restricted to the Intergovernmental Council. As a Minister, the lack of this opportunity was one of the biggest complaints I heard from the Indigenous leaders, and it seem so easy to address. It actually was a lot of work organizing, but we did it. Great work, team.

Relationships, though, go both ways. And I've learned a lot from the many Indigenous leaders I've met over my term. One wise leader told me when I first started that I had to hear not only listen. So I worked hard at hearing past the angry words thrown at me, to hear the pain that it came from, and to do my best to find solutions that we could agree to. I was honoured when later this same leader said to his Members, this Premier not only listens, she hears. To this leader, thank you.

Other leaders gently guided me, helped me build my own skills as a leader. One of my most treasured was when I was told, Premier, the elders don't like when our leaders get angry. And I was given a precious key chain that helps me control my emotions when I'm criticized in this Legislative Assembly. I'm still working on this but each day I get better. To this leader, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Many Indigenous leaders greeted me with kindness and gifted me by reenforcing my belief that to truly be happy in myself, in ourselves, we must try to help people whenever possible. And it's never okay. It's never okay to purposefully harm others physically, mentally, or verbally. It's not okay. I thank the many Indigenous leaders I have met and remember you all for the knowledge and strengths you brought to the table.

The next relationship I want to talk about is those with Cabinet Ministers. Some of my strongest relationships over this term are formed with my Cabinet colleagues. I am grateful for each of your individual gifts that together make us strong as a team. I am proud of the work of Ministers during my term as Premier, and I'm proud of the relationships we formed during this government. Three of our Ministers were Regular Members in the last Assembly, and three came in new to this Assembly. No Minister, other than myself, had any Cabinet experience, and as said to me at the start of my first term, when you're elected as Minister you hit the ground running. Not only did this Cabinet have a sharp learning curve normal for every newly formed Cabinet, we were all, all new to our Cabinet roles, and we were hit with life threatening crisis after crisis over the entire term. Members of Cabinet, though, stepped up, and our first priority became to ensure the residents were safe. We all know that COVID, floods, and fires took any money we had for new initiatives of this Assembly. But I'm amazed at each Minister's ability to still accomplish incredible work within their individual departments.

It's hard being on Cabinet and constantly being told you need to do better. But I saw how much each of you worked, how much each of you cared, and all of you should be proud of your work that you did over this term to make the lives of residents better.

I'll now talk about relationships with Regular Members.

This Assembly was harder than others in that we were never afforded the benefit of being able to meet in person for the first two years. That was unfortunate. But nevertheless, I saw the genuine care that each of you have for your constituents, for Indigenous people, and for all residents of the NWT. Even though we didn't always agree, I saw in each of you the special gifts that you brought to this Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, it's through each of us having different gifts, different skills, and strengths that we truly represent the people of the Northwest Territories. Most of you will run again, and hopefully many of you will be re-elected. I look forward to seeing what you all accomplish in the next governments and watching your progress as some of you elected will get elected into the next Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, one of the most treasured relationships I have gained is that with employees of the Government of the Northwest Territories. I'll start with the deputy ministers. The huge workload we had as elected officials was compounded for you. Not only did you have your normal roles of guiding and overseeing the departments, you also had an exceptionally difficult term. All of you had to work many, many additional hours to implement Cabinet direction, to keep residents safe, and step up programs and services at an incredible pace to accomplish this goal. You went above and beyond in carrying out your duties, and the Government of the Northwest Territories and residents are lucky to have had you in your positions. Thank you for the work you provided and for your commitment to the Northwest Territories. To the staff within all departments, all of you were faced with having to still perform your duties during the first pandemic most of us have ever seen. Not knowing what the future would bring, you continued to keep the operations of government going throughout. Many of you also experienced the devastation of floods and/or fires personally and yet you continued to put the needs of residents before your own, and that is true public service. Each of you deserves to be recognized and to be provided of your commitments.

To the staff within the Legislative Assembly, your work to keep the Assembly functioning has been outstanding. It's hard trying to give support to 19 Members, many of whom were new to their positions four years ago. You have amazed me with your dedication to the Assembly. And even though I know you've had your own trials and tribulations, I have seen your commitments and appreciate all the support you provided to me and others as MLAs.

To the staff within EIA, executive and Indigenous affairs, I've been a Minister of many departments over my time in office, but I am exceptionally proud and impressed by the staff within executive and Indigenous affairs. Your level of professionalism, compassion, and commitment as your carry out your job duties has been outstanding. From our communications team, the regional government service officers, our ministerial and Cabinet support teams, negotiations and intergovernmental affairs team, and our gender equity unit, each of you has been vital in ensuring Cabinet functions as best as possible, the needs of residents are considered at all times, and that we continue to build relationships no matter what hurdles are thrown at us. You are incredible, and I was honoured to lead you through the last four years.

To the staff within my office, some of you have been here since the beginning of my term, and some have joined throughout the term. A few have left, but their commitment to myself and this office remains, and I can't say enough about how much your support means to me. No individual can do the work in this office alone and having a strong team is critical, and I have that in my team. There are two individuals that I want to highlight, Mr. Speaker. My principal secretary, Shaleen Woodward, and our Cabinet secretary Martin Goldney. Every position in government is critical to ensure the efficient functioning of government. However, these two positions are the most important to a Premier as their roles are to give honest, critical advice, and support. When beginning politics eight years ago, I didn't know either of these individuals but I watched their performance over the years and knew that they would be the best choices for me personally. Neither have let me down. These two individuals have been expectational in both their support to me personally and in carrying out their duties to oversee the operations of Cabinet and the bureaucracy. I am forever grateful to have been able to work with you over the years. I've met many people throughout my working career, and many I respect to this day; however, I'm very careful in calling people my friends as this title is based on loyalty, trust and love. For years, I could name my true friends on one hand and now I have to add the other hand as I consider both Martin and Shaleen my friends. And I will be there for you wherever you are, whatever you do. I hope you feel the same.

I also want to acknowledge my constituents, campaign team, and supporters. You don't know how critical you are to keeping politicians going. It's tough in the limelight all the time and knowing that no matter what you do, you'll not be able to please everyone. In an atmosphere where it's easy to target, your positive support is crucial, critical, and important in keeping each of us going strong.

My family, thank you for being you, for standing beside me throughout my term, for putting up with my neglecting you to take care of all of the residents. You've been my strength throughout, and I can't express how much I love each of you. Thank you for being you and for being there for me.

Mr. Speaker, relationships go two ways, and all of us have a duty in our roles within the public service as elected officials and our staff. Every one of us has a role in ensuring we continue to build relationships and thereby trust in our work. I've learned so much from all of you, and I thank you all for your teachings and support to make me a better leader and a better person in general. Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ms. Cochrane's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6893

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Range Lake. Replies to Commissioner's address. Member for Yellowknife South.