- Her favourite word was indigenous.
Last in the Legislative Assembly October 2023, as MLA for Range Lake
Won her last election, in 2019, with 51% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Mr. Speaker, on October 2nd, Minister Thompson and I attended an event held to recognize the hard work of GNWT employees who went above and beyond to keep our residents and communities safe during our horrible fire season. At this event, I spoke about how employees kissed their families good-bye, how they worried about their own safety, as well as the safety of their loved ones, as thousands of people evacuated. I also asked everyone to remember the firefighter who this summer lost his life. These employees are heroes, Mr. Speaker. They took on additional responsibilities and stepped up to support efforts when and where needed. But they were not the only residents to step forward. People also volunteered to stay behind to protect communities and support those working on the front lines. I want to thank those people as well. Their efforts assisted in ensuring we had homes and communities to return to.
In saying that, Mr. Speaker, not everyone who stayed behind in evacuated communities was authorized to do so. I stated many times through the evacuation it is critical for residents abide by the emergency orders so as not to put firefighters and other frontline workers at risk, nor to jeopardize the effectiveness of our emergency response. Mr. Speaker, most residents left, traumatizing to all.
Mr. Speaker, MLAs are expected to be role models for their constituents and for all residents. While we all make mistakes, it's critical to acknowledge those errors and commit to improving going forward. When the MLA for Great Slave entered Yellowknife during the evacuation, she states she believed that she had permission to do so. However, when it became clear that the Member was not authorized to support the fire efforts, by remaining in Yellowknife she undermined the hard work of many people and brought her office into disrepute. No MLA is above the law, and all Members must abide by emergency orders in place to protect residents. That is our work.
This should come as no surprise to anyone as we dealt with breaching of orders previously in this Legislative Assembly. It is clear to me, Mr. Speaker, that the MLA breached the Code of Conduct by choosing to remain in Yellowknife. And as such, I will be supporting this motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table the following document: Strengthening the Non-profit and Charitable Sector External Advisory Committee Final Report. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Cochrane's Reply October 6th, 2023
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.
Question 1633-19(2): Kosmos 954 October 6th, 2023
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I committed to earlier in the line of questions, I will follow up with the Prime Minister. I believe things that fly out of the sky are not the territorial government's responsibility. It's the federal government's responsibility. Again, it's -- it was horrible to hear the story of resident in Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh and what happened to them. As for a public inquiry, Mr. Speaker, on that I can't make a commitment. This is the last day of session. There's a protocol that no new initiatives unless given notice to Members. So I respect that. But I think that it is something that perhaps the Member, when he's re-elected again, should be asking the next leaders in Cabinet, if he's not a Member of Cabinet. If he's a Member of Cabinet, he's going to have to ask himself. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Question 1633-19(2): Kosmos 954 October 6th, 2023
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don't have information on hand of specific things we've done for specifically for the Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh righting regarding cancer. But I can say that I do know that the stats of people in the North, the stats of Indigenous people, do have higher rates of cancer. And that's concerning. It's concerning to me. It should be concerning to all of us in the North. The direct reasons for that could be varied. Definitely a link to smoking. You know, it was a lot of people back in the day that -- mining has always been a critical resource in the Northwest Territories. There were a lot of people that were exposed to substances that we didn't know much about, arsenic in the capital city. My father worked in the uranium mines and actually died of cancer himself, so. Never did tracing of that. But there were many things. So I think that what I want to say to residents is that it's really important that you do regular checkups. And, Mr. Speaker, I hate to preach, you know, and not do it myself because I'm conscious that I'm not -- the worst of taking care of myself but as soon as I'm done here, that will be one thing I do is a full checkup. And I would support any resident, especially Indigenous people because of the rates of cancer, please get regular checkups. Early detection when it comes to cancer is the key. So, Mr. Speaker, that's what I'd like to say. Thank you.
Question 1633-19(2): Kosmos 954 October 6th, 2023
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Member stated, I did write to the Prime Minister. I did ask him for more research on it or the research that they have. The Member shared his story with me, the story of community members. But I know that there must be some research out there. So I did ask to see it. Again, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the last time I met with the Prime Minister -- it's really hard to get meetings with the Prime Minister to start with, but the last meeting I had was in Edmonton and it was during the evacuation. And unfortunately, I focused on the fires and the lack of infrastructure and the needs of the North. So I do assume that before the end of this government, I will meet again with the Prime Minister, and I will follow up to see if there's any research that he can provide us or any work that they're doing to address this issue. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Question 1633-19(2): Kosmos 954 October 6th, 2023
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to start by thanking the Member for bringing this issue to my attention. As I stated when he first asked me the questions, I hadn't heard of this incident. So it's always good to learn more. I always say that, you continue learning for the rest of your life. It's important. So I do thank you for bringing that to my attention.
At that time, I made a commitment to the Member. I don't know if it was the first time he asked or the second. But for sure, I made a commitment that I would bring it to the attention of the federal government. I take it to heart when horrible things happen to anyone, especially the residents of the NWT. So I did, took the time, sat down, and penned a letter to the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, that was before the evacuation. It's been fairly busy, and I haven't heard back from the Prime Minister's office on this topic to date. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery October 6th, 2023
Mr. Speaker, I am going to read out a whole bunch of names today. I want to start by recognizing the family of Edward Sangris that are here to acknowledge his services as a Yellowknife Dene chief for the past 16 years. I apologize if I say some of the names wrong. I'm going to try my hardest.
His son is here, Gordon Sangris. His daughter-in-law, Roseanne Sangris. His daughter, Vanessa Sangris. His son-in-law, Heston Cardinal. His grandchildren, Alicia, Sysa, Maddie, Daylina, and Gordon. I also see his wife in the gallery. Welcome. We also have his in-laws. Elaine Baillargeon-Betsina, George Betsina, Randy Baillargeon, Cyna Dauherty, and Afrie Baillargeon. Thank you, Vanessa, for providing the names, and I apologize if I said some of them wrong. But thank you; it was an honour to work with your father and your relative.
I also want to recognize one of my favorite nephews in the whole world and a city of Yellowknife councillor, Mr. Garrett Cochrane. Thank you for being here on our last day; end of my political career, beginning of yours. Go boy.
One of my best friends is here in the gallery. Ms. Arlene Hache, who has been strong with me for many, many years and one of my strongest supporters. I am so looking forward to regaining our friendship, being able to go for coffee again. It's been a long time. My heart is with you.
My staff, Brenda Fowler. I ask for a bodyguard all the time since I've been here, and they never gave me one. The closest I could get was Brenda Fowler. She's my bodyguard, and she's the keeper of my calendar. Trust her with my heart. Alex Kincaid is our hockey STAR. She needed those skills to be able to keep up on the BFs coming through the Premier's office. Kenna Gosselin, our go-getter. She's going places. She's young and dynamic, and she will go far in the government. Keep her. Shaleen Woodward, my right hand. James Tolley, Shaleen's right hand. Mira Dunn, another treasured friend of mine, the daughter of Arlene Hache, the woman that I worked with for many years in the Yellowknife Women's Society, a woman that cares deeply about people and honoured to have been able to spend time with her. Going to go for coffee with you too after. And Miranda Bye. Is Miranda here? Miranda worked with me as a ministerial advisor in the Legislative Assembly. This woman is dynamic. She's an Indigenous woman from the Northwest Territories. She will do wonders for the Northwest Territories in whatever position she fulfills. So thank you for being here, Miranda.
Communication staff, many of them, and phenomenal people. They took a beating through this Assembly. Everybody kept saying more communications, more communications, more communications, working day and night. You look pretty good, though, actually, working for all that time. And, again, some of them I might say their names a little bit wrong but I'm going to try my hardest. Egatta Aggie, is he here for me. Gokenska -- I should have that down. We were on every night on the TV but I'm still pronouncing that wrong. Jackie McKinnon lent me her red shall. I'll never forget. Jack Miltenberger, a newer Member to the Assembly. Great addition to the team. Nicole Bonnell filled in for Andrew when Andrew left. I didn't think someone could fill his shoes, but you got big feet. You've done a good job. And Kenneth, who also works in communications. Again, a go-getter. Like I said, she started in our office, moved over to communications. She's going places. And Krysta Pidborchinski. I'm sorry if I said your name wrong. I try my hardest. But the communications team was so vital throughout this government. The staff was so vital. Those who have come, those who have left, sincerely owe you a huge debt of gratitude. Thank you for being you. Thank you for working with us. Thank you for serving the residents of the NWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, one of the unique features of our governance system in the Northwest Territories is the importance of Indigenous governments. Indigenous governments deliver programs and services to their members, run businesses, and engage in a range of intergovernmental activities. Being a leader is challenging, and today I want to acknowledge former Chief Eddie Sangris.
Chief Sangris was born and raised in Dettah. I remember him as a child coming to Yellowknife by dog team. He spent 23 years as a heavy equipment mechanic. I wish I had known that; I could have used some of that service over the time. He was elected as a councillor for the Yellowknife First Nation, a role that he held for 12 years.
In 2007, Mr. Speaker, he was elected as the Dettah chief, a role he remained in for four terms, 16 years. During this time, Det'on Cho companies have flourished. The Yellowknife Dene First Nation housing strategy was developed, and the community has weathered many challenges from COVID-19 to this year's wildfires.
Being a leader frequently means being away from family. Today, his family is here with us today as we recognize his 26 years of service to his communities. Eddie, we wish you all the best, and we thank you for your tireless advocacy for your community members. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr . Speaker, I'd like to, first of all, say that myself and Cabinet, and many of the Council of Leaders, are extremely proud of this bill. I think this is the way of the future. It's exciting. It's scary. It's challenging. And it's about time that we took these steps.
I'd also like to clear for the record, Mr. Speaker, I was accused yesterday and today of not attending assemblies. Mr. Speaker, throughout my term as Premier, at any time that any Indigenous organization, government, has invited me to their assemblies, if I had been free I would have attended. As with other Members, if our schedules allow, we have attended. I do not impose myself as Premier into assemblies where I do not get invited. So if I was not invited, then I did not attend. That is just what I was learned growing up as basic manners - don't go to a party unless you're invited.
Mr. Speaker, I'd also like to clarify that this was being accused of my legacy. When I first started in this Assembly, Mr. Speaker, I never even knew what the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples was. I never put it as a priority. I never knew it. It was brought as a priority of all 19 Members. I soon learned what it was and became extremely proud of it and a champion of it as well because it is the right way.
So, Mr. Speaker, this is not -- if this is passed, this is not my legacy as the Premier. This is the legacy of this 19th Assembly. This states that we believe in the rights of Indigenous people and forever I shall be grateful to all Members who support this bill and the work that was done on it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
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