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Last in the Legislative Assembly May 2005, as MLA for North Slave

Lost his last election, in 2007, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committee Motion 24-15(3): Recommendation To Divert Funds From Chipseal Projects To Highway Reconstruction, Carried February 28th, 2005

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My understanding was because of our fiscal restraint, that all of a sudden it disappeared. But we're in a different situation now. For the last few years your camp over there in my area has been crying, but nobody's been listening to them because the top-down people weren't talking to them and listening to them, even though they were crying. Now they're starting to cry. I see them day to day over here. So hopefully the Minister will seriously consider reinstating the need for that particular camp. If he could do it in this 2005-06 fiscal year, good; but, if not, then the next business cycle. Thank you.

Committee Motion 24-15(3): Recommendation To Divert Funds From Chipseal Projects To Highway Reconstruction, Carried February 28th, 2005

Well, maybe I'll get our research department to look into it so I can maybe assist the Minister and show it on the org chart and what year the changes occurred. I'm sure his department can find that out, too. But it is those two positions and I'd like to ask the Minister if he would consider reinstating those two particular positions. The reason I'm saying this, Mr. Chairman, is that these two positions were very fundamental to the operation of the camp and the five people we have there in permanent positions, a lot of them usually go on holidays and we have to hire more casuals. Especially now, Mr. Chairman, with the mining industry and tourism industry, they're taking up all kinds of people and it's hard for our camp to maintain the operators. I think right now is a critical time to reinstate those two positions for that particular camp.

Committee Motion 24-15(3): Recommendation To Divert Funds From Chipseal Projects To Highway Reconstruction, Carried February 28th, 2005

As I indicated earlier in my general comments, Mr. Chairman, with regard to positions, particularly in the Tlicho section under page 10-26, we have only five full-time and two casuals that are budgeted, for a total of seven. I guess my question to the Minister is, a number of years ago, I don't know the exact year, but the highway camp at Edzo had a mechanic position and a clerk position. For some reason the department had wiped that off the org chart for that particular camp. I recall those mechanics being there and I knew them years ago, but they haven't been filled and all of a sudden I'm looking for them and they're not even on the org chart. They had a clerk position to do paperwork, to answer the phones, to pick up mail for the camp office there and to do errands and so forth. These two positions were never filled and I'm wondering why they all of a sudden disappeared from the Tlicho camp.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters February 28th, 2005

Mahsi, Mr. Chairman. I am going to touch on a number of issues, rather than deal with specific issues.

First of all, Mr. Chairman, with regard to the Deh Cho Bridge Corporation, I concur with the committee's report in relation to the comments they made. I am in agreement that the cost is escalating and the current estimate was $57 million, but it could go as high as $75 million, by what we hear. I would like to caution the department that, at the end of the day, we are going to end up paying for that bridge. If the cost escalates as they are predicting now, it's going to be us, the travellers, because the toll they are going to put on there is going to be more. I concur with what the standing committee is saying on this and we have to nail down a number we can stick to, a maximum dollar figure, so we know what the costs are going to be.

Mr. Chairman, with regard to airports, I want to make a few comments. I agree with what the committee said with regard to the combined-service building that is anticipated to be done at the airport here in Yellowknife. I guess the department should also consider the highway camp, so it's all in the same general area. I think the committee, if I read the report right, is suggesting that too.

With regard to the CARS program, Community Aerodrome Radio Station program, Madam Chair, it's going to be given over to a private contractor effective April 1st. I would like to encourage the department to work closely with NAV Canada and whoever the new contractor is going to be, to ensure that services continue to be delivered at a high level; and, that the northern contractors and northern employees are used to carry out this work as we have been doing with our government.

The other area I wanted to touch on with regard to airports is I wanted to know, Madam Chair, if the department had any discussions with the Dogrib Rae Band pertaining to the airport they have at the Edzo site. I know it's a privately-owned airport, but has there been any consultation or discussion to see if we could turn it into a public airport, as Wha Ti or Rae Lakes or Wekweti? The initiative has been taken on by the community, because the department was reluctant to put in an airport. This is

one of the few communities that bend over backwards to get their airports off the ground and they have done it successfully. I am just wondering if the department has discussed this with them. It takes money to operate a private airport. I want to know if there has been any discussion at all to see if we could move or assist them in terms of funding with their O and M or even to try to make it into a public airport, as we do in other communities.

With regard to highways, Madam Chair, and winter roads, I know the department is doing a lot of work in this area in other regions. I am more interested in the North Slave area. The winter road goes to the outlying communities of Wha Ti and Rae Lakes and also to Wekweti. My understanding is that Wekweti does not get a winter road on an annual basis. It's usually every other year, if I recall right. I wonder if the department had any discussions with the community, because I know that at one time the community was suggesting that maybe a new route should be undertaken, so that they would be connecting onto the other winter road that we have going to Wha Ti and Gameti, rather than going through the mine right now; going through Lupin. I wonder if the department had any discussions with regard to that.

The other area I wanted to touch on, Madam Chair, is highways; again, pertaining to our highway camp that we had in Edzo. Over a number of years, the department has been reducing the PYs in that particular camp. The people who are currently there have managed to stay quiet and not go against the department with what they are doing, but my understanding is they don't 'have a mechanic to service their equipment there, they don't have a clerk to do the paperwork there. They have a supervisor and, if I recall right, there are only four or five permanent jobs there.

I was there this weekend and I had the opportunity to talk with some of the staff. They would love to have it back as we did years ago when we weren't in a financial constraint with our government, but they never got those positions back and they are hurting right now. They are coping with what they have now. When equipment breaks, they will have to either bring it to Yellowknife or get someone out there. That's a big concern to me.

I am going to be following up in the next go-around, Madam Chair, so that we enhance that particular camp to the level we have here in the Yellowknife camp. My understanding is the Yellowknife camp has more PYs than we do at the Edzo camp. Even in the Minister's riding, his camp has more people than we do here.

So I just wanted to put the Minister on notice that, even though the department has been requesting that they reinstate these positions, nothing has been happening. I hope, through the next business cycle we go through, he takes a serious look at implementing these PYs back into that camp; especially the mechanic and the clerk position. There are other operators or trades people that were cut previously.

I am really concerned about the services that are being provided from that particular highway camp and the number of people who are doing the job. They are doing the job from Edzo all the way to Chan Lake and beyond. They are limited with the number of people over there.

Moving on, Madam Chair, I just wanted to say that I am glad that this Highway No. 3 work is going to continue on. Finally, it's going to be finished within another year and there will be a paving program starting at the other end, with the work that's been done this past summer. We are going to be seeing the conclusion, finally, of Highway No. 3 coming into Yellowknife.

Madam Chair, those are some of my general comments, but once we get into detail, I may have more comments. For now, I would like to ask the Minister to respond to some of the issues that I raised. Mahsi.

North Slave Sports Report February 28th, 2005

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to give the sports report from the North Slave. Mr. Speaker, I attended the Great Slave Snowmobile Association's 2nd Annual Behcho Ko Extreme Snowmobile Racing event that was held over the weekend in Rae. Unfortunately, the cross-country race from Rae to Wha Ti had to be cancelled due to weather on Sunday. However, Mr. Speaker, many other races and events did go ahead and were very successful.

The event was well attended by North Slave residents and also attracted people from Yellowknife and around the lake and, I believe, even from Alberta. Everyone had a good time and enjoyed all of the races that occurred over the weekend.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all the sponsors, organizers and volunteers for putting together another successful event. I look forward to next year's snowmobile event again. Thank you.


Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters February 25th, 2005

Mahsi, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I will be speaking in support of Bill 15. As I said earlier today in my Member's statement, it has been a long journey for the Tlicho people to get here. This bill is the final piece of legislation needed for our agreement to come into effect. It is the part that lays out how health, social services and education will be delivered in the Tlicho region. These are core programs that have a tremendous impact on everyone's wellbeing, personal growth and ability to take advantage of opportunities life brings. It's very significant that they are now being put back into our own hands after so many years.

Mr. Chairman, our elders, leaders and negotiators have come up with a very thoughtful and wise approach, that will allow us to take over and expand these important programs gradually as we build our capacity. I guess you could say, Mr. Chairman, for now we will have the same car, but what will change is that we will be the ones in the driver's seat. In a few years, we may want to trade it in for a new model, and that will be our decision. Our people's access to services will not be disrupted in any way, but I think, as the decision-making power changes hands, they will start to see more of the Tlicho values reflected in their everyday dealings with the new agency. At the same time, they are assured of the same funding and standards as everywhere else in the Territories.

Mr. Chairman, the children of the today are going to grow up in a very different world than I and my peers did, or that our elders did. They won't be dealing with a lack of cultural understanding or outright racism in the education, health and social services systems that we experienced. The Intergovernmental Services Agreement provides for a cultural coordinator who will advise the Tlicho government, the GNWT and Canada on how they can use their respective powers in ways that respect and promote Tlicho language and culture. This will be a very key role, Mr. Chairman. Fifteen or 20 years ago it was not something I would have imagined was even possible.

The children of today will never see the Tlicho people as depending on an outside government to tell us what to do. I hope that they will grow up proud and taking for granted their entitlement to govern themselves according to the Tlicho ways, and to have their language and culture reflected in programs and services. The sky is really the limit for this generation, and I hope they realize that.

Mr. Chairman, I don't think we can say enough thanks to the elders, leaders and negotiators who put their heart into their agreement and legislation for us. So I would like to express my appreciation to them once again. I would also like to thank all the Tlicho who would have liked to have been here in the gallery to witness this historic occasion. I'm looking forward to celebrating with them in the near future, and to the rest of the Tlicho people as we pass yet another milestone. I also want to thank the Minister and the government for bringing this bill forward, and the Standing Committee on Social Programs for their supportive comments.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to sharing with all other Tlicho people the work of implementing the agreement and showing the rest of the Northwest Territories and Canada what we can achieve and how far we can go as self-governing people. Mahsi cho.


Historic Journey Of The Tlicho People February 25th, 2005

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, on August 22, 1921, with the signing of Treaty 11 by Chief Monfwi in Fort Rae, my people started on an historic journey to find and define their place in Canada. We've recently marked some very important milestones of this journey, including the signing of the Tlicho agreement and passing of legislation in this House and the House of Commons.

Last year, this Assembly passed the Tlicho Community Government Act and I hope we will be passing another milestone later today. Mr. Speaker, a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of sacrifices went into getting the agreement and legislation developed and in place. The pride that the Tlicho people have can be measured by the number of Tlicho citizens with us here today in the gallery.

The Tlicho agreement is modelled for a future self-government agreement between First Nations and Canada. Mr. Speaker, I don't have time in this forum to thank everyone who worked on making these agreements a reality. I would, however, like to recognize the fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and children who made the best of the situation whenever their loved ones were away from home working for their people. We owe them a lot of debt and gratitude and thanks for all the missed birthdays, anniversaries and graduations.

I would also like to recognize those elders who did not live to see this agreement come to pass. You are in our thoughts and prayers on this joyous occasion, and your spirit and guidance got us to where we are today.

Whenever Tlicho people get together for special occasions, we dance. There will be some dancing going on today to celebrate the conclusion of the debate on the Tlicho Government Agency Act, as the last part of the puzzle.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you and my colleagues in this Assembly for your support of the aspiration of the Tlicho people. It shows that consensus government can work.

It is a new day for my people, Mr. Speaker. We have authority over our own affairs. We have the ability to protect our language, culture, heritage and environment. We are ensuring the future for our children and grandchildren as a distinct society within a cultural mosaic that is Canada. Mahsi.


Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters February 24th, 2005

Mr. Chairman, enhancement at the territorial level for $500,000; where are they doing this?

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters February 24th, 2005

Is the Minister saying that the number of people that we have on the frontline, that you feel they are serving the people to their best ability? I'm hearing something a little different, particularly for the outlying communities; not particularly Rae, because the income support is there only periodically. When they're in need, some people don't have phones and they have to go to the band office and start to phone Rae, and if there's a need, it causes some logistical problems where they can't get in touch with the income support worker. Thank you.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters February 24th, 2005

Mr. Chairman, active positions on income support under the Tlicho heading, we have only one full-time and one part-time. Could I ask the Minister where these two positions are located? I think the Tlicho region requires more than one-and-a-half positions to serve the four Dogrib communities. Thank you.