Last in the Legislative Assembly March 1999, as MLA for Aivilik
Won her last election, in 1995, with 46% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Member's Statement 64-13(7): Appreciation Of Support March 25th, 1999
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I was saying, I felt like a foreign object so many times when I am being told that I am the only woman in the Nunavut government, but the decision was made by the people of Nunavut. This is a decision that was made by the people and it has already been discussed and it should no longer be open for discussion.
I would like to thank every one of my staff who have been very supportive and loyal to me, I respect them highly. I have gotten to know a lot of them, which I have tried to do. I appreciate them for the last supper that they had for me, where I just started crying because I appreciated the time they had for me and the organizing that went into that supper. I would like to thank each and every one of the Nunavut Members who will be going to Nunavut with me and also to the western Members who voted me to be on Cabinet. Thank you for your confidence. I hope I have done you well and I hope I have served your communities well. I hope that I have served the aboriginal leaders here in the west well, I hope I have listened to them and understand their determination and aspirations.
I think we are lucky in a way that in Nunavut we have 80 percent aboriginal. I am very happy that we will be speaking our language in our Nunavut government. It is my language, I dream in it, I think in it, it is part of me and I will be so glad to speak without thinking. When you have to speak English, it is a little bit more difficult because you have to think before you speak so that you are not using the wrong words. When you are speaking your own language, it is like you are in paradise or something, it is a completely different world. I do not know what paradise is like, but it certainly feels like that to go home to Nunavut to speak in my own language, to live in my own culture, to govern the people with the language they understand, the majority of them. I do know it is going to be a public government, it is going to be the people's government. I do know that and everybody should feel welcome to our government.
There will be non-aboriginals in our government and they will be as welcomed as anybody else. We are partnerships, they are family to us, but when you speak your own language, it is a different experience.
Thank you so much, all the staff upstairs, all the staff downstairs. You have made my life a lot easier. I would like to say goodbye to all my friends that I have made here in Yellowknife, in the western Arctic. I would like to say thank you to my Mom and Dad, they believed in me, and the Ministers that I sat with, they believed in me also and I appreciate them. Whoever takes my seat here, all the luck. Thank you.
Member's Statement 64-13(7): Appreciation Of Support March 25th, 1999
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was just going to say thank you very much and goodbye, I am going home tomorrow. I would just like to mention a few people who have helped me here while I have been here. The first person I would like to say thank you to and I do respect this man very much, as I have a lot of respect for David Hamilton. When I became a Minister, I was given the portfolio of Municipal and Community Affairs and I wanted to do my best for my Premier, Mr. Don Morin. I do appreciate all the advice and support he gave me. He just treated me like a human being, I was not treated like the only female on Cabinet. I am still not the only female in Nunavut so there is a lot more of us out there, we just cannot get to the seat very fast.
I would like to thank everyone that I have worked with, the staff, Mr. Hamilton, who I have a lot of respect for and all the research staff, the staff in my office, my past secretaries, and my executive assistants.
It seems to be graduation day for me today. I thought I was going to last for two or three months on Cabinet, but I have lasted this long and I do appreciate all the support I have received from my western colleagues and my Nunavut colleagues, more from my western colleagues because I did not really get along with some of my Nunavut colleagues. I hope we do get along better in the future government.
Anyway, I would also like to say thank you to Mark Evaloarjuk, I really appreciated his friendship, his understanding, his wisdom during Nunavut Caucus meetings, in and outside of the meetings. I guess, at this time, I also would like to thank my husband whom I really appreciate a lot and I have a lot of respect for. I think he is the only husband I know of who would play the guitar for his wife because she is too tired from travelling and needs a good sleep.
Just recently, my 15-year-old son Trevor, last year I guess he had learned to play the guitar and because of my travelling, I have not kept up with what has been happening at my home. Tom was away from town, I went to bed, and I heard somebody playing music and I did not realize, I thought it was a CD playing and I went out and it was my son playing the guitar for me so that I could have a good sleep. For that, I appreciate my boys and my husband. Without their support, I think I would have surely failed. We need a support system as women and I appreciate their support.
I really do get tired of being told that I am the only aboriginal woman and also the only woman in Nunavut. I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.
Mr. Speaker, on two other occasions I advised this House that there is a real need for change in the area of community fire protection. Consistently high rates of fire loss, including the loss of life and the loss of major public buildings in communities across the north continue to illustrate this point. Mr. Speaker, our fire loss statistics are still well above the national average. These high rates jeopardize the availability of reasonable insurance coverage, not to mention the risk to human life. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs has developed a Territorial Strategy for Community Fire Protection. This protection strategy is the best approach to introducing changes to the current fire protection system. Areas requiring immediate attention are included in the department's business plan for the fiscal year 1999-2000. For future years, MACA will work with its stakeholders to determine the fire prevention needs of communities.
Mr. Speaker, the department is focused on improving current conditions. Changes include additional firefighter training, financial support to communities, fire inspections and fire prevention. Communities will be supported as they develop proper control systems to make sure construction projects meet fire safety requirements. MACA works with the Northwest Territories Fire Chiefs Association to provide fire- fighter training programs for community volunteers and professional firefighters. It must be pointed out that this government is only one of the partners involved in improving the overall condition of the Northwest Territories fire protection system. Communities and local fire departments also play a critical role in maintaining adequate fire protection. Elected officials and community fire chiefs can also provide the leadership to guide the development and maintenance of effective fire departments.
Mr. Speaker, the department needs the support of key stakeholders in finding solutions to improve fire protection at the local level. Since most fires can be prevented, an important part of the strategy includes the continuation of public education campaigns. When lives and property are at risk, it is everyone's responsibility to help find solutions. Fire prevention must be a priority for communities, parents and families as well as government.
Mr. Speaker, MACA will continue to work with its partners in fire prevention to improve the overall fire protection system. I am confident that the Territorial Strategy for Community Fire Protection is the step in the right direction. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Tabled Document 17-13(7): Municipal Finance Review March 24th, 1999
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker I wish to table the following document entitled Municipal Finance Review. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to provide an update on the Municipal Finance Review. The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, in partnership with the NWT Association of Municipalities, are doing this joint review. For many years, community governments have raised concerns about the provisions of MACA's funding programs. Community concerns include the fairness and equitablitity of current funding arrangements, a desire for greater flexibility in how funds can be used and the elimination of needless red tape. The Municipal Finance Review presents an opportunity to redesign the financial relationship between the community and territorial governments.
Mr. Speaker, the department and the association have continued to make progress on many key financial issues. In June, 1998, an introduction to the Municipal Finance Review and the Building Key Concepts document were presented to the association members. This initial information was important for the members' early consideration.
Since that time, working group members have expanded on each of the financial issues and prepared a third document entitled, Understanding the Funding Distribution Options. This discussion paper covers four key areas and begins with a description of how things are currently done, explains why changes should be made, and proposes options for further consideration.
Mr. Speaker, the NWT Association of Municipalities and the Nunavut Association of Municipalities reconfirmed support for the joint Municipal Finance Review at their annual general meeting held in Cambridge Bay earlier this month. Two motions were passed that support the progress made to date and call for the continuation of the review. I have also received a letter of support from the Review's Steering Committee recommending that MACA's partnership with the Association of Municipalities continue.
I will be tabling parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Municipal Finance Review this session. Mr. Speaker, I invite all Members to take the time to review these documents and discuss them with their constituents. Any comments, concerns or other feedback from Members would be very much appreciated.
Next steps include part 4, the consultation phase, where we plan to consult with community governments and a number of other stakeholders on the proposed municipal financing options. I am hopeful that after division, both this government and the new Nunavut government will proceed with the consultation phase, which would last until fall. This will ensure that feedback and advice can be consolidated and presented to the territorial governments for consideration.
Mr. Speaker, the Municipal Finance Review can achieve greater authority, flexibility, accountability and financial stability for community governments. It is my hope, Mr. Speaker, that the two new governments will continue with the Municipal Finance Review and build a new financial relationship with community governments. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Question 10-13(7): Lease Increases In High Arctic Communities March 16th, 1999
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We did some consultations for quite some time in the beginning of this three years of this government with the communities and also through the NWTAM, so I do know that the hamlet councils have also been consulted on the land reform initiative. Thank you.
Question 10-13(7): Lease Increases In High Arctic Communities March 16th, 1999
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We did a land reform initiative which authorized the communities now to set their own rates on land leases. Under the Nunavut Land Claims, the authority has been given to the hamlets to set their own land leases, so it is now up to the communities to decide how much money they have to collect from the property owners of their communities.
(Translation) Thank you, Mr. Speaker, also my colleagues, my fellow MLAs who are able to attend the meeting here, also the Premier-elect, I would like to welcome him to our Legislative Assembly; and I would like to thank my constituents in Rankin South, also Whale Cove. I will be representing them at the Nunavut Legislative Assembly and I would like to thank them for electing me on February 15th. I would like to congratulate the communities that I was representing, Repulse Bay, Chesterfield Inlet and Coral Harbour. I represented them in the previous Legislature, and I will be asking to represent Baker Lake and Rankin for electing them, and I would like you to be pleased as well, for having me in this Legislature. Thank you. (Translation ends)
Item 21: Third Reading Of Bills December 9th, 1998
Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nahendeh, that Bill 24, Community Employees' Benefits Program Transfer Act, be read for the third time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Item 9: Replies To Opening Address December 9th, 1998
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to speak because this is possibly the last opportunity I will speak in this Assembly. I suppose this can be described as my parting comments to the Western Territory. I will probably take
ten minutes of your time, so it is not going to be a long reply. While I know this sitting has been very emotionally draining for everyone in this House, I have had the opportunity to watch this government work at its highest level. I can personally say it has been a real learning experience for me and very interesting.
I have a few observations I would like to share. Mr. Speaker, I have had a chance to see leadership in action and also seen how a leader is taken down. We all have our own ways of dealing with our leaders and I think in the old days if there was ever a conflict and the people were divided, we still respected our leaders. The fact that they were put there in the first place is really important and that was the key to the survival of our people.
We are supposedly working under a consensus style of government, but the fact is we are operating like a minority government under a party system. The principles or values of a consensus system of government have eroded significantly over the past decade. People watching the House proceedings the last few months may be concluding that the consensus system of government does not exist any more. I think the new government of Nunavut will have to show very early that it has an interest in policy making and not in fighting. There has been a lot said about public perception. I must say that these words made in this House and repeated over and over in the media seem to have a more southern meaning. Things are different in the communities I represent. In my language "public perception" has a closer meaning to "gossip" than anything else. In this political arena, we are measured against gossip and that is the bottom line. I think that maybe "public perception" has been assumed for the entire NWT and we have to watch out for that. Public perception in the communities I represent and the leaders in my constituency is very different from what I interpret to be public perception in the larger communities.
No one can doubt that the media has a role to play in both creating and interpreting the public perception. It is a great responsibility. I must say that the media is one player in this situation, they do not necessarily speak for every member of the communities, especially the small ones. Sometimes the media should remember that too much one-sided criticism makes people in communities think twice about the media and their reporting. Sometimes the criticism has the opposite effect of making people show support for their criticised MLAs. Having said that, I have seen examples of balanced reporting in the Inuktitut language and I commend the following people for their work. Their names do not occur in any particular order: Louie Taparti, Emaline Kownak, Leeza Ipeelie, Paul Innquat, Rassi Nasulik, Annie Ford, Jeannie Arreak, Charlie Panigoniyak.
I have also seen many organizations that say they represent the entire NWT, rarely set up offices or even visit the eastern Arctic. I also note that headquarters are usually in Yellowknife. Again, I know there are exceptions, but in many cases we see these groups when it is convenient on some issue. I hope that in Nunavut this will change and these groups will be closer to the communities and be more recognizable.
I am looking forward to hearing from the panel reviewing the process for the Conflict of Interest. In Nunavut we will have real interest in the process. Almost everybody is related to each other and with small communities in Nunavut, it will be even more important to know how to respect the process and as well that the process is right for Nunavut. Just about everybody is related to each other in one way or another in our municipalities in the smaller communities. Elected people can sometimes be brother and sister, aunts, cousins, fathers, uncles, whatever.
I am also very excited that the working language of the new government will be Inuktitut. English is not my first language. I just learned it when I went to school not too long ago, but it is my current working language. That can be hard looking for the right words. I think I sometimes sound blunt and I usually sound very rude and mean because I cannot find the right words in English. I envy the people here in this Legislature, the MLAs, who were born with English as their first language. The whole world is at your service.
It has been an honour to work with my MACA staff, my past deputy ministers, David Ramsden, Penny Ballantyne, and now Bob McLeod. I work with a very good, honourable bunch of staff. My office staff here who is presently working for me Hayley Simms, Dan Schofield and also Brian Menton who was my EA in my earlier days and also my previous secretaries and my secretary now, Millie; my colleagues in Cabinet and in this Assembly and to represent the people of my riding. I want to commend each individual Minister, Jim Antoine, Charles Dent, Stephen Kakfwi, John Todd, Kelvin Ng, Goo Arlooktoo, and of course, Don Morin. They are a good group of people to work with. I would also like to thank the Members here for having given me the opportunity to be a Minister in this government. People watching may notice that I am wearing two flying geese on my outfit today. These were given to me by John Tinashlu, my campaign manager in Repulse Bay, when I got elected, who said that I should wear them because they are a symbol of what leaders should do, take a bird's-eye view of things and not consider issues or people narrowly. He said sometimes when things are tough you start to disassociate or isolate yourself.
I want to recognize also at this time, before I conclude my statement, Minister John Todd, who has contributed significantly and has worked extremely hard for his constituents and the people of the Territories. He is family to a lot of us in the east. John has always been there for me when I wanted to discuss something with him, and we have had good debates in his office, especially during my time as a new politician. If this was hockey, he would be Wayne Gretzky. He always manages to score, even if he seems to be falling. He is an extremely good skater, he is a good player in politics, and I have been privileged to work beside him.
At this time, I also would like to recognize Don Morin. When Don Morin was running as Premier in this Assembly, I did not know each individual person here in the Assembly except for John because he is from the Keewatin. I told Don I was here, I had won in the by-election so I had a chance to observe him a little bit and also the other Members who were here at the time. I had to base my vote on how I observed in that last Assembly and what I saw in this man was that even under a lot of stress and a lot of criticism, he was able to stand up and smile and know it is going to be another day. He was able to stand on his own two feet and be a leader. He showed me that even under criticism, maybe sometimes personal attacks, you have to make sure you can show yourself as if everything is okay.
I would also like to thank my husband for his support over these years, who has earned an Inuit name given to him by my mom, which just means somebody who has a lot of patience. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
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