In the Legislative Assembly


Historical Information James Rabesca is no longer a member of the Legislative Assembly.

Last in the Legislative Assembly December 1999, as MLA for North Slave

Lost his last election, in 1999, with 7% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Reply 7-13(8) September 9th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to make a Commissioner's reply as short as possible. I rise today to get the last word in prior to leaving, concentrating on the election at hand. During our Commissioner's address, I found his speech giving me a feeling of fellowship and unity. I am very glad to see he has gone on the road, so to speak, and is spreading the word of unity and how this territory should and can work together to provide our residents in all areas on a better and more prosperous way of life. Over the last year our residents have suffered many hardships as a result of actions that we were forced to take. We have met many challenges facing us and I feel we have come out ahead. I realize there are still many issues to be resolved, and I hope I can return and again make my mark in this Assembly. It was also good to hear our Commissioner recognizing the role models in all our communities. There are the individuals that, in every community, are very important to communities who, most times, do not get this recognition.

As we go forward, we must strive to unite our territory. We all have seen what can happen when we work together. We can, while achieving greatness, it is important that we look ahead to these opportunities and we can achieve and reach for them. Our residents need this and we are obliged to provide this. One united territory will make a difference and this is what must be in the forefront of our minds.

In closing, I would like to thank my constituency for the honour of representing them in this Assembly. We have achieved much more than many ever thought possible. We must continue to look to the future and strive for a much better life for all the residents in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Member's Statement 24-13(8): Appreciation To Colleagues And Staff September 9th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to give my colleagues a fond farewell. Over the years we have had many battles as well as many good times that, I for one, will remember for a long, long time. This has been a very interesting Assembly, and as I look around at all of you I know you have all grown considerably over the last four years.

I remember travelling with my friend and colleague, Mr. John Ningark, as I call him, brother John. His humour and good nature was always welcome. I have many memories of those years. I thank you all for the privilege of meeting and sharing our lives together. In a way it is sad for us today, but our lives go on and most of us will be hitting the campaign trail, while others will contemplate what the next move will be for them and what it will mean for their future. For myself, I will once again hit the campaign trail and with some good luck and support, I will once again be back here to work for our residents

At this time, Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish my colleagues that will also be going to re-election, good luck. For those that have decided to venture elsewhere in their lives, I wish you all the best in your private lives wherever they may lead you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Member's Statement 17-13(8): Working Together During The Thirteenth Assembly September 8th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We now have been working together for close to four years, and during that time, we collectively have had many issues to deal with. Some have been a pleasure, while others have tried our form of government to the limits. We have worked together to make the best decisions possible for our residents and believe that we have succeeded. We have accomplished a great deal over the life if this Assembly, and I feel proud to have participated in it all.

We worked very hard to ensure our constituencies have a say and our communities are treated equally and fairly. However, if it was not for the staff of this building and a good working relationship that is present here, we could not do nearly as much. To this, I would like to thank all the Assembly staff and the hard work and the perseverance. They are the people that really do most of the work.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the Government of Canada for their cooperation over the last four years. Without their support, many of the issues we have dealt with could not have been completed. As I stated previously over the last four years, we have taken this government from a deficit position to one of a surplus. We have successfully witnessed and took part in the creation of two new Territories. This one item is a very historic event, and we should be proud that we were able to put together and work towards a successful division as we saw in April.

There are still many issues that must be dealt with, however, our time is up and we must move on. The next Assembly will take up where we left off, and eventually we will have a territory we can be proud of. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Member's Statement 12-13(8): Dogrib Land Claim Agreement-in-principle September 7th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, on August 9, the Dogrib Nation along with the federal and territorial governments signed the agreement-in-principle. That basically spells out what will be in the final agreement that will be signed in due course. This AIP is very significant for my people. It establishes the perimeters of the final land claims settlement, as well as establishes the framework for continued discussions and the realization of self-government.

To get to this stage in the process all three parties have worked extremely hard to provide the people with an agreement that everyone can live by. For my people it is the realization of many years of work as well as a new hope for the future. This agreement will allow the Dogrib region the ability to govern its own affairs and hopefully provide better services and a better life for the members of my region. It is the first agreement in Canada that combines the stability of the land claim settlement and the idea of self-government into one document. I believe this will be a model for other agreements to come in the future.

Over the next couple of years, while the final agreement is being completed, I hope that all parties will continue to work together and ensure the final agreement is the best possible agreement we could provide for our people.

There will be many important events that take place between now and the signing of the final agreement and through this all, change will happen. However, because we now have four areas of our Territory that have completed the settlement process, it also brings much stability to the NWT as a whole.

To close, I would like to congratulate Treaty 11 Council, the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories in taking this next step in fulfilling our dream of self-governance and control of our destiny. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Member's Statement 4-13(8): Forest Fire Outside Rae-edzo September 6th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to welcome my colleagues back to this last Session of the Assembly. We do have a few more items to deal with over the next few days and I hope we can come together and make this an memorable time for us. I would also like to congratulate Mr. Nick Sibbeston for his recent appointment to the Senate.

Mr. Speaker, on August 7, 1999, the community of Edzo experienced one of the most feared elements that this world can give. That, of course, being a fire. At approximately 2:30 pm in the afternoon lightening struck the bush just on the edge of the community. Within two hours we had a raging fire that threatened the lives and well being of our residents. The wind was blowing directly into the community and it looked like all would be lost. We are thankful to the hamlet staff and the fire department of Rae-Edzo and emergency measures staff, the Department of MACA, RCMP, Department of RWED staff and the water bombers, without all of these plus many volunteers this could have ended in a totally devastating situation. However, I am pleased to say that through the efforts of these organizations and many volunteers that came together and fought to control this, that not one person or piece of property was damaged. For this entire operation all the people involved performed to impressive abilities and I would like to congratulate everyone for the fine work they did. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Motion 26-13(7): Resolution Of Land Claims And Self-government In The Nwt July 29th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to support this motion since it is a very important motion that has come forward. I believe that it is a long awaited motion that could have come up from this House a long time ago. However, I am sure that the various organizations throughout the territories and maybe national organizations that must have brought a similar motion to the federal government, but yet nobody seems to act to it. Now certainly it is stronger and is better that it came out from this House and I will assume that most of the organizations throughout the territories might be satisfied with this government if this motion comes forward and is supported as it is. On that note, I would like to support this motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 204-13(7): Negotiated Contracts For Housing Units July 29th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on what my communities are receiving as a result of negotiated contracts for the construction of housing units. We have heard many times, over the life of this Assembly, that negotiated contracts should not continue. They do not provide the benefits of lower cost, for example, that tendered contracts possibly can achieve. I have argued, as have some of my other colleagues, that these types of contracts should remain as they do indeed provide many benefits to the smaller communities. In my region, all of our communities have negotiated construction contracts with the Housing Corporation and are starting to work or awaiting materials.

As I have said many times over, these contracts do provide badly needed employment and training opportunities in the smaller communities that have high unemployment and rates in low education levels. The residents want to work, and this is a great way to get residents working and at the same time, provide good quality homes that are also needed badly in our communities. With this, I encourage this government to continue with these types of contracts for our smaller communities so they can continue to provide the residents with employable training. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Member's Statement 197-13(7): First Aboriginal Youth Conference July 28th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this past Sunday, I was privileged to attend the opening ceremony of the first Aboriginal International Youth Conference which was being held in Rae-Edzo. Myself, the mayor, and the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories presented comments to the delegation of approximately 60 youth from across Canada and the Philippines. The focus of the conference was to bring youth together in a forum to discuss the common concerns that youth face today. I see this as an excellent forum that I am sure this is providing some direction to these participants to return to their home communities and hopefully start implementing them.

The youth of today face many different challenges than we did when we were growing up. It is very difficult for the youth to retain their language and culture, as a result they are lost between their culture and that of the non-aboriginal population. They also find it frustrating because few will listen to them. In all communities, we hear the youth are bored, there is nothing for them to do. How can the youth balance their heritage and tradition with that of this modern world?

Over the week-long conference, many discussions and workshops took place with a list of concerns and recommendations that would be presented to the community leaders which I hope will include this government. It is important that we hear what their concerns are, how we can help them develop and prosper. The youth need your support for they are our future leaders. Today, youth need to be strong like two people, retain their culture and language but also able to adapt to this modern lifestyle. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters July 27th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I too, I guess, have had the chance to make a tour at the community levels. We have heard a lot of very interesting subjects. I certainly would like to appeal to my colleagues to give good, long thought to this recommendation that we are making hoping that they will be able to support us. Certainly there is great animosity within the communities we have visited, including my home community. Making a Member's statement the other day, I made an illusion as to what might happen in the future if the bill passes on as it is, and that it was going to be a dark day in the history of the Northwest Territories. Making some illusion to my Member's statement today too, regarding the same issue surrounding it, my intention was to give a compliment to the Government of Canada, the federal government, and the territorial government as well. I certainly believe that both governments are obligated to work with aboriginal people that they serve. Certainly, they do it well to a certain extent. In most cases, I guess, aboriginal people do not agree with them. However, overall they are well in line with what they are mandated to do.

The reason why I made my Member's statement today regarding both the territorial government and federal government living up to their obligations and then believing that most of the other smaller communities and including specifically the city of Yellowknife, I guess, are not in tune or in line to work with the rest of the government, although they are a municipal government. I assume they are not totally interested in aboriginal issues or supporting it in any way. I feel that they are out there just more or less for power grabs or giving more power to the city of Yellowknife.

In our travels into the communities, I heard one time or another that some Member said that maybe the extra seats that the city of Yellowknife are acquiring through the courts, are not justifiable. It should not be. They felt that maybe the extra power should be given to the City of Yellowknife as to the aldermen, not to the extra Member, to the City of Yellowknife. I kind of believe it too, but I guess after the court ruling I guess it is not going to be likely to happen. I, along with the other aboriginal descent as I promise, I support the aboriginal intervenors such as the Metis Nation and the Dene Nation because they are my own current organization that I belong to. I certainly had to support them. That is the reason why I have defended them to a certain extent and then I came along with the committee to listen to their views out into the communities. After saying that, knowing all the comments and the pressures that we have been getting from here, and what was expressed here in this House, we certainly do not really come from our own personal point of view. It certainly has come from the people that we do represent. I, for one, do not feel that I am just out here just to represent my own personal feelings. Certainly, on behalf of the aboriginal groups out there and the organization, the last four years that I have sat here, and I have voted, freely the way I wanted, in some cases I must have voted against the government. In some cases I did not side with my colleagues as well.

However, in consultation with my community leaders such as the community chiefs and the community municipal governments, with proper consultation with those people, that is where I did my voting so that, like I said, the decision that I come to or make some conclusion to, is not simply coming from myself but actually right from the community. Like I said, I do not really speak only on my personal beliefs, but I more or less rely solely on the community representations that I have been assigned to. With that, like I said earlier on, I was just hoping that since the aboriginal organization tried their best to appeal the structure of this whole Electoral Boundaries Commissions Report and mandate, but since that is not going to be likely, so I guess with the tour that we have made, we came out with a few recommendations and then the hope that since most of the territorial government seems to be agreeing with us, and I hope that most of our colleagues will be able to accept the recommendation as we present it to you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Member's Statement 192-13(7): Support For The Aspirations Of Native People July 27th, 1999

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to make a comment about how, over the last few years, this government and the federal government both have changed their thinking in relation to the needs and aspirations of our native population. As many of you may remember, it was not long ago that our native population were not elected and totally forgotten. Many various concerns were being raised over the years. Many concerns have been addressed and others are still being worked on.

This is the point that I am saying, today we have land claims set in only three areas of our territory and one more in the final stages. Recently, on the federal level, many more claims are being worked on and many have finalized agreements. This, I believe, is a complete change in thinking than it was only a few years ago. I would also like to say this is the way of the future, and all departments should see this positive move as one of the opportunity for a strong partnership, investment, and strong human resources. The native population needs the support of the federal government and the territorial government for the initiative to ensure our voice is heard and our aspirations for self government are made a reality. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.