- His favourite word was public.
Last in the Legislative Assembly June 2021, as MLA for Monfwi
Won his last election, in 2019, by acclaimation.
Statements in the House
Prayer June 4th, 2021
Masi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker -- [Translation] Masi, Mr. Speaker. Today is a special day; it's a huge day. Yesterday as I spoke, I spoke in my language. The reason I said it, I said it in my language. Today we have Mary Rose here in the audience from CKLB. I spoke with her, and they report on everything that we say and do in this House. When we represent the people, we need to talk for them, and we relay those concerns to the government.
Yesterday, as I spoke in my language, I spoke in my language yesterday on the radio. But today I will speak in English. The languages are all equal. Today, as we meet here, I will be announcing a special report. I want to say to all the MLAs and the people of Northwest Territories, and also to the Tlicho Region, my people, I want to talk to them. As I stand here, I will read my statement. I will now speak in my language. Masi, Mr. Speaker. [Translation Ends]
Mr. Speaker, we've experienced a challenging year and a half from COVID-19 here in the Northwest Territories, in Canada, and also around the world. We have lost something dear and today we face a normal full of unanswered questions. And then, Mr. Speaker, comes devastating news last week from the former Kamloops Indian Residential School - news of a mass grave containing the bodies of at least 215 Indigenous children.
Mr. Speaker, challenging times like this tend to focus on person's thoughts, on what really matters. It gets you thinking about family, how very precious family is, and about the community and how precious that is. And this leads, naturally, to thoughts about your own life and what have you done with your time on earth that you've been given by Our Creator.
Mr. Speaker, that applies to me. That includes reflecting back on my 16 years - five terms as a Member of this Legislative Assembly. Mr. Speaker, when I walked into this building in June 2005, my oldest son, Jade, was only 12 years old. Today, Mr. Speaker, my son, Jade, is 28 years old with a son on his own and a family on his own. My youngest Ty was only just born when I became a MLA. Now he is 16, studying for his driver's licence.
Mr. Speaker, we take our oath of office as a MLA. We sign on to a demanding parallel of life - an existence away from home, removed loved ones, and away from family. Mr. Speaker, while I sat in this chamber, my five kids grew up around me. During my 16 years here, I've missed so much childhood while they were growing up - so their rites of passage. Of course, not just for me, Mr. Speaker. How many babies first words, first steps, birthdays, soccer tournaments, laughters, cuts, tears of each of us - missed because of our duties as MLAs.
But, Mr. Speaker, on the flip side, there's always a -- it has also been a wonderful 16 years serving here in this Legislative Assembly, in this House. I've visited just about every community in the Northwest Territories, just every part of Canada as a Minister, and then later as a Speaker, travelled to promote NWT internationally.
Mr. Speaker, when I was approached 16 years ago to first run as a MLA for Monfwi Region, it was at prompting of the elders. Now, those same elders, at least the new generation of them, have approached me again. This time, Mr. Speaker, they're asking me to come home back to my region, back to the Tlicho. They want me to take what I have learned here and put it to work within the Tlicho government system.
As tradition demands, I consulted with my family. My family, which stood by me in my journey as a MLA, as a Minister, and also as a Speaker. My family says the elders' right. It's time for a new direction. It's time to go home.
For that reason, Mr. Speaker, today I am giving notice to this House, to the Tlicho people, the NWT as a whole, that I will be resigning my post as a MLA for Monfwi effective today, Friday, June 4th, 2021.
In doing so, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to say a big masi cho to the Tlicho communities and the people, for the privilege of representing them for the past 16 years, for the past five terms. I'm humbled by the trust they placed in me. It makes a personal sacrifice more worth it. I love the Tlicho people and the communities. For their sake, I would do it all over again.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to masi cho to my former assistant Morgan McPherson who dedicated almost ten years to helping me in various elected roles. Without her, Mr. Speaker, I would have been lost. Thank you, Morgan, for your dedication and commitment, for being a friend that I could always count on. For that, masi cho.
Another constituent assistant, Mr. Speaker, is Richard Charlo. He has been my voice, my eyes and ears, in the Tlicho Region when it came to constituent issues. Thank you, Richard, for your enthusiasm, for your cheerfulness, hard work, and your dedication these past several years.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to say masi cho to my family - my father, my sisters, brothers, aunties and uncles, for supporting me and encouraging me as I struggled to make a difference for my Tlicho people and my communities. During my 16 years here, I have lost so many close family. First my mother, 2014; then a year later, my grandma cho. Then just last year, my brother Troy. And this year, my loving auntie Therese. Their death made it more difficult in trying times but my family's love and support kept me going.
Mr. Speaker, that brings me to my immediate family. If I had an amount of success as a politician, it's them I have to thank. They get the credit. My son Jade, his wife Jessie, our grandson Aries. My daughter Cheyenne, my daughter Sahara, my daughter Dene, and our youngest Ty. Without their constant love and understanding, I'd be nothing. Then, Mr. Speaker, there is a super woman I married - Diane Marie Lafferty. In every challenge, every time, every defeat, she has been there by my side. Through every trying times, absence, every inconvenient business trip, every sitting of this Assembly, she was there covering me with the kids, reminding them of my love. If I have accomplished anything in life, it's on account of my love Diane. If my path leads to success, it will be entirely because of her.
Mr. Speaker, finally, I want to thank this institution - the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, and all their Members, past and present, I have had opportunity and privilege to serve with. Elected office is a true honour - a high calling. I will be grateful for the rest of my life for being given this opportunity.
Mr. Speaker, I will miss this chamber, the excitement, the debates as well. But new excitement beckons from outside this building, outside the city. They call me.
Mr. Speaker, it's been a blast. Mr. Speaker, good luck to all my colleagues around the room here. Continue to be the voice of the North. Do not forget who elected you. It's the people that you serve. It's their voice that should be heard in this House. So make a difference for NWT.
Masi cho and God bless.
Masi, Madam Chair. I only have 30 seconds here, but due to these issues or committing $150,000 towards a freezer, there hasn't been any engagement with harvesters. That's why we're questioning things here in the House. We need to be accountable, accountable government. And where does the issue lie? The issue lies with illegal hunting. Let's put our manpower towards that. Let's have a monitor mechanism, enforce that even further. That $150,000 can go towards that; that's what I'm saying. But obviously the Minister and the government feel -- doesn't feel the same way. So I'll just leave it at that. It's on the record. Masi.
CHAIRPERSON (MS. SEMMLER) Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Member for Yellowknife North.
Masi, Madam Chair. Madam Chair, obviously I'm not getting through to this government. I'd like to know if there's been an engagement with elders, the traditional hunters - what were their thoughts on spending this $150,000 towards a freezer? I'm not sure there's been an engagement with the traditional harvesters that go out on land every year to the area. And I go there every year. I see people hunt, and -- for their families. And so has there been any engagement with those traditional hunters? There's quite a few of them; not only from our region, from outside region too. So maybe I'll leave it at that because I'm not really getting answers that I was expecting. But has there been any engagement, Madam Chair? Mahsi.
CHAIRPERSON (MS. SEMMLER) Thank you, Member. Minister.
Masi, Madam Chair. Madam Chair, it's very difficult to accept that. The 150 caribou is obviously stored in the freezer will not be presented in court, the actual meat. It will be stored in a freezer and freezer burnt and such, and after a year, five years, nobody will want that kind of meat. Madam Chair, for $150,000 that can create a teacher position in the community or a renewable resource officer position that can monitor these illegal hunters. I think we can go more -- we can do more with this money than an actual freezer where we can have footage of -- pictures, have the pictures presented. It's always been a case where court proceedings, evidence is always pictures. It's not actual caribou in a courtroom. So I find that hard to believe, where we're pushing for this freezer into this budget area of ENR where I feel that they should be expended elsewhere. And I -- you know, the Minister came out with some arguments of 150 illegal caribou that's been hunted but it will not be presented in a courtroom. The actual caribou meat per se, Madam Chair, so. It's very hard to justify, approving this 150,000 for a freezer that's, I don't think it's needed. We've been doing without it all these years. And, yes, there's been illegal hunt, but, you know, after we do captures of all the evidence, the pictures, the case, the reports, then give out the meat. Why sit on the meat? Like, it's badly needed in the communities. We're forced not to hunt in our own backyard and share. We have to store them until such years. I'm not sure how long. So, yeah, Madam Chair, just it's frustrating sitting here and looking at this $150,000. It can be much better spent elsewhere. Let's hire more officers. Let's hire traditional hunters to work with these ENR officers. That's better well spent than the freezer. That's my take, Madam Chair. Masi.
CHAIRPERSON (MS. SEMMLER) Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Minister of Finance, did you have any comment?
Masi, Madam Chair. Just, I know we've touched on this with the Minister, the walk-in freezer for a whopping $150,000. Is it necessary to have a freezer? Because if there's meat that's seized from the hunters, usually it goes to the communities. It should go to the communities. If you have meat in a freezer for over a year, obviously it goes bad. And I think there was a process where they usually take footage of what they've seized from -- or taken from the hunters, and that's proof as evidence. And I'm just wondering why we need a walk-in freezer for $150,000 to store the meat that's been taken away from hunters that should be going to the communities. So I'm just curious, Madam Chair. Masi.
CHAIRPERSON (MS. SEMMLER) Thank you, Member. Minister.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. [Translatin] Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So the Minister and also they should be at least maybe three or four from the head office to see because you will know we would be able to work with them. At times, you know when we do speak, it's like we're not going ahead. So this is why when we or the Minister have or the members that are sitting at the head office and see -- they see firsthand and this is the way we would be able to get things going and moving and working on it right away. [Translation ends].
Masi, Mr. Speaker. [Translation] So thank you very much about coming into our home community. So, again, Minister, when you do see firsthand this is -- this is called you really know that the way it actually is. So thank you very much that you're going to be going into Behchoko about that. So most homes are not good standing right now because right now I have to say we are forever repeating and stating that the homes are boarding up, are sitting there. It's like when we do get the Ministers and the workers or firsthand to see what is going on in our homeland. Thank you very much. You would be able to see it all. [Translation ends].
Masi, Mr. Speaker. [Translation] yesterday when I went to -- when I was in Behchoko, I did saw that the way it looks about housing. So when you see houses, some are wood burnt and all boarded up. It's been there, sitting there for the last ten, 15 years, so for a while now that I've been standing here speaking about the housing in Behchoko. When are they going to be able to tear it out and give us a date, a target date, when? Tomorrow? Next week? Or next 10 years, or 15 or so? Give us a date, please. Thank you. [Translation ends]
Masi, Mr. Speaker.
[Translation] I'd just like to say, Mr. Speaker, about housing in our -- in our home communities, about housing, Minister for Housing, I'd like to -- yesterday I was in Behchoko. I sat with some few members, and I asked -- or they asked about their condition, their situation that we see. So this is what I'd like to ask the Minister of Housing. The last -- and I asked the last sitting about there's a few homes that's been just sitting there empty that has been, you know, it's all boarded up. We see that. And some other homes have been completely gone, taken down, it's don't no longer exist so this is why I'd like to ask the Minister of Housing what they're going to do with it. [Translation ends]
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery June 2nd, 2021
Masi, Mr. Speaker.
[Translation] Mr. Speaker, we have interpreters here in the House for us. On some days, we don't have the complete interpretation but interpretation is very important. Today we have Mary Rose Sundburg and Harriet Paul interpreting for the language. Even though no one is here, we are being recorded so the recordings will also be recording into the future. So I would like to say thank you to them. Masi. [Translation ended]
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