This is page numbers 6417 - 6500 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 indigenous.

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Member's Statement 1591-19(2): Eulogy for Adam Yeadon
Members' Statements

September 27th, 2023

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Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Adam Blake Yeadon was born on August 30th, 1997, at Fort Nelson BC to Barbara Bertrand and Jack Yeadon. Adam was the fourth of five children.

Adam was raised in Fort Liard where he lived most of his life. He went to Bella Coola for a couple of years with his dad and brother Jackson, but his heart was calling him home and he came back to live with his sister Donna and her husband Norman.

He was dedicated -- described as a loveable and happy child who grew into a generous young man with drive and enthusiasm. He was always willing and smiling, hardworking, and loved using the chainsaw. It was his prized possession.

Mr. Speaker, Adam was most happy when he was on the land. He was never afraid to be alone in the bush; it's where he felt his happiest and safe and connected. He was a determined individual. A perfect example was when he was 17 years old, he decided that he wanted to be a wild land firefighter so, when the plane landed in Fort Liard to take people to Fort Simpson for training, he jumped on the plane. Unfortunately, when he landed an instructor looked at him and asked him his age. After telling him the truth, his age, he was then sent home on the next plane to Fort Liard. This not did not stop him. The following year, he was prepared and ready when the call came for people interested in training. Once he took the training, it confirmed his passion to be a wild land firefighter. He loved his EFF family immensely and took his job very seriously. He was very proud to be part of the EFF community.

On February 21st, 2020, his dad's birthday, his life improved with Keena coming into his life. She remembered going for a walk that day and Adam stopped her for a chat. This moment led to them getting together and the following year they both welcomed their most beautiful baby, Aisey. Adam was such a loving father and very protective of his family. Adam was very loved by his family and friends. They returned the love he had for them.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say his colleagues built and placed a cross on the site where he passed away and will be doing a moment of silence at the start of each fire season. This was due to their respect for him.

The family would like to thank ECC for all the support they received during this difficult time, and the Premier for being able to come to the funeral. He is predeceased by his loving mother who passed away in 2006.

Mr. Speaker, he will be greatly remembered and loved by his father Jack, brothers Carl and Jackson, his sisters Crystal and Donna, his girlfriend Keena and his daughter Aisey, his extended family, friends, and the firefighting family in the community ever Fort Liard and the residents of the Nahendeh. Mr. Speaker, he will be sadly missed.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nahendeh. Our continued thoughts and prayers for the family and community at this time.

Members' statements. Returns to oral questions. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Great Slave.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize my constituent Julie Thrasher who, unfortunately, I can't see from where I sit. But Julie is a Great Slave constituent, also originally from Inuvik, and also a strong supporter in the community, often feeding and helping the vulnerable population. So I just wanted to say thank you to Julie for that work; it's well needed. So thank you; welcome.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Inuvik Boot Lake.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would also like to recognize Julie in the gallery as well. I knew her growing up in Aklavik, and she's a good friend of mine and she's like family. So thank you for being here, Julie. Mahsi.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Boot Lake. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Tu Nedhe Wiilidheh.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I just want to recognize the drummers that were here earlier at the beginning of the session. And I'd like to recognize Cody Drygeese, Lerory Betsina, Cody Liske, Daniel Liske, Randy Bellageron, Ethan Sundberg. I also want to recognize my CA Shirley Tsetta, and all the translators; it's good to see you all back again. And GNWT staff and the ledge staff. And also Pascal Erasmus who was here a little earlier. And Kieron Testart, former MLA for the Yellowknife area. Mahsi.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Range Lake.

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Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd also like to recognize Mr. Kieron Testart who is a constituent of Range Lake and I believe is putting his name forward, so welcome to the gallery. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Range Lake. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Acknowledgements. Oral Questions. Member for Hay River South.

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Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Range Lake. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Acknowledgements. Oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd ask the Premier to confirm what programs and associated funding amounts are in place to specifically support businesses impacted by the wildfires, and how quickly can we get that support out to alleviate the financial burden on our local businesses? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Madam Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

I think I'd like to defer that to the Minister of Finance. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. Minister responsible for Finance.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, at present, there's two programs already operational, and they were both stood during the midst of the evacuation. The first one I'll speak to out of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment. We changed the SEED program that a lot of businesses that are familiar with, added on a directive relating specifically to the wildfires. Under this program at present, there is a contribution amount of up to $5,000 for eligible costs that were incurred. There's also, under the BDIC, they've also had their board -- brought their board together and established a program that they're calling the Wildfire Assistance and Relief Measures Program. It's very similar, and it provides up to $5,000 again for evacuated communities, businesses, and $3,500 for those that are in business -- or in communities that were otherwise affected. And the two are working together just to ensure that they can try to maximize benefits for businesses that might be eligible under the program. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's good to hear that we do have some programs. It's not a lot of money because for Hay River and, you know, Enterprise and K'atlodeeche, you know, we've been through, you know, three major events here in the last 15 months, and it's really taken its impact -- it's really impacting businesses. So I think we have to take another look at that. But anyways, Mr. Speaker, I'd ask the Premier if any requests have gone into the federal government for additional financial support for businesses impacted by the wildfires; if so, and what has the response been? Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That one, Mr. Speaker, really does lay largely in the purview of the Premier's office. But given the multi-department nature of the evacuations and the emergencies, quite a number of departments are working together to be in touch with their counterparts. I know ITI officials are in touch with their counterparts. But beyond that, we've also all been contributing to work that's happening out of the Premier's office. And with the invitation of the federal government, knowing that we're going to have some asks, to prepare a very thorough and complete look at what kind of asks we might have and what they would be. So that is going out. If it hasn't gone out in a formal sense but, again, that's coming because of the conversations happening both out of the Premier's office but with a lot of our officials. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I appreciate that answer. You know, however, you know, like I say, we've gone through three major events in Hay River and, you know, a year after the flood, we're still -- you know, we still got a number of files that need to be actioned. And when I see what's happened here, it's going to be -- this is going to be still existing after the next Assembly, the way things are going. So I think we need to be really proactive and forceful when we're dealing with the federal government to try and get additional funds, otherwise we're going to lose residents, we're going to lose businesses, and we're going to see, you know, the NWT kind of end up being almost a third world area. So anyways, Mr. Speaker, what percent -- I'd ask the Premier what percentage of wildfire and evacuation costs will the federal government reimburse this government and how quickly can we expect to see that reimbursement? Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, at a practical level, that's Department of MACA but, really, from a government fiscal perspective, I can say that the Department of Finance is looking quite closely at what we might get. There's a sliding scale for -- under the disaster financial assistance arrangements. That's the federal program that applies to all provinces and territories. When you get to a certain level, which we most certainly have hit, you can get up to 90 percent of eligible costs. And that's the tricky part, Mr. Speaker, is that I don't get to determine what the eligible costs are. What we do is we ask for everything. But it certainly is unlikely that we will be getting everything. And whatever we do get will come at 90 percent amount. But, Mr. Speaker, we certainly will continue to adapt the response of the Government of the Northwest Territories. Twice now in the sort of preambles of questions, the Members sort of mentioned if there's insufficiency. Mr. Speaker, just like I said in COVID many times, the government continues to monitor their response, and we'll continue to do its best to adapt as we go forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Hay River South.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And, you know, it's important, I think that -- I think that we as government, and the future government, really take a look at what happened here in this last few years because when you look at what happened with the flooding and also with the fires now, the impact it had. It had -- for Hay River, it impacted the fishing industry. For communities along the waterways, it impacted access to their cargo. You know, it just goes on and on. It -- you know, basically it really impacted businesses, individuals, health -- people's health, everything. So I think it's very important that this government and future governments really take a look at it. But, Mr. Speaker, over the past four years, this territory has experienced major disaster -- disasters, and there appears to be a pattern emerging.

Going forward, what is this government, in terms of planning and costing, doing to prepare for climate change and future disasters as they occur? Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the wildfires, the floods, COVID have certainly impacted every single sector large and small. Larger businesses might have the ability to weather it better but that certainly doesn't make it any easier. It's also impacted all levels of government and it has impacted this government.

Mr. Speaker, we can't necessarily -- if I could plan for a large scale natural disaster, you'd see a budget line item for -- you know, to plan for the large scale emergency. We aren't able to plan for a large scale emergency by virtue of the fact that it's an emergency. What we can do, Mr. Speaker, is keep our fiscal House in order so that we have the capacity to provide relief and we have the capacity to provide funding, we have the capacity to support these emergent events as they occur, and to be able to stand and say look, we'll continue to adapt that response. So, Mr. Speaker, we were lucky to have forecasted a significant operating surplus this year. That has given us a cushion from which we were able to then provide a response to the emergency, and we're going to have to continue to be mindful of how we get back to that place of having large operational surpluses so we have that financial flexibility to be able to respond if or when an emergency occurs. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. My questions are for the Premier. With regard to the recent evacuations and adequacy of government supports, it's my understanding that evacuation costs are eligible up -- for up to 90 percent reimbursement under the federal guidelines for the disaster financial assistance arrangements. Page 19, eligible response costs include temporary relocation, shelter, food, clothing, rescue, transportation, and related social and inquiry services. End of quote.

So can the Premier confirm whether evacuation costs for NWT residents, including any GNWT initiatives such as the Evacuation Travel Support Program, are eligible for federal reimbursement? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.