- His favourite word was indigenous.
Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2019, as MLA for Nunakput
Lost his last election, in 2019, with 19% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery (reversion) August 23rd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to recognize a couple of special people. I think that I have a couple of grandchildren in the gallery, Scarlett and Tucker are both young babies, and also Alyssa. Alyssa, actually, is doing amazing things. She is working with organizations like the Edmonton Eskimos. There is so much debate about whether we are Inuit or Eskimo and what that means to us. Alyssa is actually helping with that in what she does to educate people and educate people properly. There are so many misconceptions of the word, and even through this government. There is so much good work that the government does, and sometimes it's brought down negatively. Alyssa is one of the people who actually stabilized that, and I appreciate the work that she does, so I'd like to recognize Alyssa. Also, my daughter Maddy who is there. It's good to see kids around here.
Sometimes, we spend so much time being serious. We can't even sit down and have a conversation and laugh. I think we need to incorporate that into the work that we do here, especially with the advice that we get from all the professionals. I believe my mother, Helen, is in the gallery. My wife, Yvonne.
Mr. Speaker, family is so important for me. It's been the foundation of everything I do, whether it's here at home or working on projects around this world. My life before coming here was working on projects around this world educating the general public, and also advocating for Inuit in our drive to self-determination, and without family, I could do nothing of that, Mr. Speaker.
I'm grateful for my parents, who actually grew me up properly. I really give credit to my mom and dad for helping me out at a young age. They sent me away from Paulatuk when I was 15. They're like, don't come back until you have a good education or something. I still don't know what that means today, but I appreciate it. I'd like to welcome my family. Mr. Speaker, without them, I don't know where I would be today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 23rd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to recognize Mr. Pascal Erasmus. Yesterday, I mentioned that he worked for myself and Mr. Beaulieu, the representative of the riding of Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Mr. Speaker, I am going go on this again: when you have someone working for two different ridings, it really broadens their horizons. I see that in Pascal. I appreciate the work that he has done. He has written some good statements over the past couple of weeks.
Also, all the staff, there are many all over who have responded to some emails and some really pressing issues that affect constituents' social and maybe even financial ways of life. I would like to say thank you to everybody for the work that they have done and the responses that they did. They represented Ministers very well. The relationship that we have with the Ministers is that. It is in person. The real work that people do is behind the scenes. I would just like to thank them for that. I see a lot of them sitting up there behind me.
Also, Mr. Speaker, general staff. It might be a useless statistic, but I will probably walk through two doors today. I would like to thank those two people in advance who might open those doors for me. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Reflections on the 18th Assembly August 23rd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to just start off by looking back on the last four years. We have learned a lot. We have learned a lot as Regular MLAs working with Cabinet. It is not an us-versus-them system. It is consensus government.
Mr. Speaker, this past week, when we passed all of these bills, it showed how consensus government works. I am proud of that, actually. Coming from a small community, it really did voice my concerns from my region coming from the most expensive region in the territory, maybe in Canada, maybe in this world. When you think about it, the cost of living in the North is higher than anywhere else. For myself to be able to express the concerns, whether it is health, the cost of fuel.
Mr. Speaker, working with our Cabinet colleagues, I think the relationships that we have built during this time, these four years, is such a short time when you think about it. I am grateful for the conversations. I have learned a lot. I have learned tremendously from people like Mr. R.C. McLeod, sitting there in his office, whether it is having a conversation. We learn more when we talk about our family. It is a fact. We ground ourselves and remind ourselves that we are here to do a job. Representing our region is key in what we do.
Anyways, Mr. Speaker, getting down to it, I would like thank my constituents from Tuktoyaktuk, Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour. In my constituency, I have four CAs. Maybe we need to focus on them and look in the next Assembly. Maybe we need an office in every region, in every community in this territory. We have GSO offices in most of the communities in the territory. Think about that. We can represent the government better. It is not always just about us. It is about the people that we work with.
Mr. Speaker, I would just like to close in saying thank you for being the amazing human being that you are yourself. To other MLAs on this side from Tu Nedhe Wiilideh and from the Deh Cho, for keeping the language strong and alive in this Assembly.
Mr. Speaker, I hope, looking forward, that we all can work together and whoever is here next can do a better job than we did because we can always do better. We did a lot during this Assembly. I would like to congratulate everybody here and the staff for being the people that they are to make the Northwest Territories as great as it is. It is an amazing place. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 22nd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, would like to recognize Mr. Pascal Erasmus. He works with myself and Tom, and it is good to see young people like that working for MLAs who live in different regions of the territory. It really helps grow our capacity within an individual. I would like to thank Pascal for his help over the last couple of weeks, especially during the final bit of session, and also to Mr. Rylund Johnson, as well. I see that he is running in the next territorial election. I wish him luck. We have had a lot of aspiring politicians sit over the last couple of weeks, and it is good to see him in on the action.
As well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize Ms. Nora Doig from Behchoko. She is with the Community Foundations of Canada, and also Melanie Blanchette, from Community Foundations of Canada. I see that they may be starting up a foundation in Inuvik, and possibly Iqaluit, so any retiring politicians might want to go and talk to her.
Also, Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize my wife, Yvonne. It has been a ride, Mr. Speaker. We get to go hunt in my region and her region, and also representing our country on international meetings around this world, so I really appreciate her support. Honestly I don't know how I could put up with some people without her support, so I really do appreciate that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Arctic Policy Framework August 22nd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to talk about the long-awaited Arctic Policy Framework that the federal government has been working on for the last two-and-a-half years and should be unveiling any time now.
Mr. Speaker, it has been 10 years since the federal government released its first Arctic Policy Framework, so Canada is long overdue for an updated set of policy directives regarding our Arctic region. I think it is worth noting that among the many differences between our pending framework and last decade's framework is the fact that, this time around, our federal government seems to be much more hands-on in terms of engaging and consulting with Northerners. This time around, Mr. Speaker, I see the feds have reached out not only to territorial governments, but to Indigenous governments, civil society, industry leaders, and the average citizens, as well.
As we wait for the official announcement of this policy framework, I would like to share some of the key points of interest that I personally hope to see in the federal plan. Most of these ideas have already been talked about throughout various draft documents that the Government of the Northwest Territories has published from engagement sessions with stakeholders.
I hope to see a section of the framework address some of the many social issues that Northerners regularly experience, such as food insecurity, housing inadequacy and homelessness, high rates of suicide, and large gaps in education and general health outcomes.
In terms of infrastructure, I hope to see more details on how and when the feds intend to provide high-speed Internet to all Arctic communities, along with ideas on how communities can improve access to affordable and sustainable energy options. I also hope that the framework will provide support options for helping northern businesses grow and retain their wealth within the Arctic while simultaneously helping to foster stronger economic ties with southern Canada.
I encourage our Premier to advocate up to the very last minute of this Assembly on the Arctic Policy Framework. I could go on, as there are many common issues that exist all throughout the Arctic communities and in Canada. I don't know exactly what will be included in the final policy framework, but, Mr. Speaker, looking forward, I hope that all levels of government work together to improve the quality of life in the Northwest Territories and our neighbours around the Arctic. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Committee Motion 261-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Process Used for Devolution Legislative Initiatives - Preamble or Purpose Statement, Carried August 21st, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Adding preambles into every bill, I don't know if that is the right thing to do. Some of them involve many different countries, and sometimes, it is useful. In this case, there are a lot of different Indigenous groups that have differences. I don't know if they would want to see this, myself, coming from one. Just for the record, Mr. Chair, I come from the Inuvialuit settlement region. A lot of these motions are made not from Indigenous recommendation or interactions. I think they mostly come out of the capital. I see this, and I am worried about this.
I would like to assure you, Mr. Chair, that I believe in the work that the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation does, and their relationship with the GNWT is improving as well as it is improving with the federal government. I think we need to look at those and ask them how that is really working. For interpretation for us in our committees, I think some of these are just low-lying fruit, and it may cause some confusion to some Indigenous governments who are actually working hard with the government. I just wanted to share that, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
Committee Motion 252-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Process Used for Devolution Legislative Initiatives - Comprehensive Briefing on Legislative Process for Technical Working Group, Carried August 21st, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Chair. You know what, I am looking at this, and I had to look again. Mr. Chair, we have very capable research staff who are assigned to committees and do very good work. This, I think, almost takes away from them. You know, all of the educational stuff, I don't know what we are going to do. Like, say, the next government or the next committee, I don't know how we put educational stuff out there, but the next committee would have to decide that, and the next government. You know, all of this plain language stuff, we do get from our research, and it's very good. It's very high-level briefing notes and all that, and I really appreciate it. I just look at this, and I am, like, if we can't understand the language, then maybe we shouldn't be here, so I am really kind of worried about this. I am trying to convince myself that this is a high-level motion that would be useful. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Committee Motion 247-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Process Used for Devolution Legislative Initiatives - Protocols for Engagement in Development of Legislation, Carried August 21st, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I, too, worry about this, as well. I, as well, too, like Mr. McNeely, sat in intergovernmental council meetings between the Inuvialuit and Cabinet. I see the working relationship. I see there are examples out there that we see here as a government that have come through this House, funding and implementation of programs and services. I wonder about this. I wonder where this is coming from. That is my question, Mr. Chair. Seeing it in action, I don't know about this. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Committee Motion 246-18(3): Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment Report on the Perceptions Held by Northern Businesses Toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' Procurement Processes - Government Response to Recommendations, carried August 21st, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and also, thanks to committee for the work on this report. Mr. Chair, I look at all of these bills that we have been working on recently. I look at this, and it says "devolution" across it, and sometimes we see a draft, and I think, coming from Inuvialuit Settlement Region, our working relationship is never perfect, but nothing ever is. There are differences between Indigenous governments, points of view, even though they sit at borders, look at the languages. Those are different. When you have those little bit of differences within Indigenous peoples or even with the governments on the language of bills, there are some differences.
I see my fellow Inuvialuit coming to the capital to negotiate with the Government of the Northwest Territories, and I am actually proud of that.
I would like to thank the committee for highlighting all of these. Some of these are issues that need to be worked out. At the same time, as I mentioned, we all have our differences, but when we work towards something together, that is when we actually make progress. This is it.
As we move in to the end of this Assembly, we have a couple of days left. I think we have a lot to be proud of as a government as a whole. Sometimes, we don't celebrate the altogether. I think we always reference somewhere else and something else. The fact of the matter is: we are here right now, and we were here for four years. We need to look at the progress that we have made and the progress we hope to make moving ahead. I would just like to congratulate everybody on this.
Like I said, I look at all these bills and all the amendments to all these bills. I see Indigenous governments, Indigenous groups in a lot of this. I think that this is actually a step in the right direction. I just wanted to share that. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 21st, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, would like to recognize Mr. Alphonse Nitsiza. Mr. Speaker, Alphonse is one person who works for Indigenous government. I mention that a lot, and coming from that background, I have a lot of respect and I look up to Alphonse and all of the hard work he has done for the Tlicho region, especially for the outlying and remote communities. I would like to welcome Alphonse and, once again, thank him for all of his hard work. I look up to that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
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