Last in the Legislative Assembly September 1995, as MLA for Mackenzie Delta

Lost his last election, in 1995, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried June 22nd, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This bill makes it easier for aboriginal languages to be used, both as a language of instruction and as a subject. The previous Education Act didn't allow that to happen. We are allowing that to happen, along with the district education authority, to choose the language of instruction from kindergarten to grade 12, not just kindergarten to grade 2, as it is now.

Presently, there are high school courses that have been developed and are now being offered in Deh Cho as part of the language courses. We are working on these issues and, obviously, there are two elements to this: one, the issue of instruction; and, the issue of language classes.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried June 22nd, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is not intended to be a barrier. This is intended to ensure that there is quality assurances for the communities. I can advise the Member that Innuqatigiit and Dene Kede allow all communities to teach aboriginal languages without any barriers. The curriculum has already been approved. So there is already a basis on which we can teach languages. On the issue of teaching the total program, all elements, we require qualified teachers in our own languages. There are two different issues. That is why I can advise the Member that the teacher education program is, in fact, to make those teachers available. The honourable Member has some of the more qualified aboriginal language educators in the Northwest Territories. Yet, he knows that we don't have enough of them and that is why, beginning this year, we are going to establish the community education program in this community. We have done it in North Slave, the Beaufort/Delta, we are going to be doing it in the Sahtu and Deh Cho this year. We have done it in the Kitikmeot, Keewatin and Baffin, south and north. We have had really great success in the Keewatin; probably, in terms of return on our investment, the highest percentages. Right now, over 50 per cent of the teachers who are hired to teach in the schools in the Keewatin and close to 50 per cent in the Baffin. So we know the success of the community teacher education program and we are starting to see it in the Dogrib communities as well.

That is what our intention is. We are hoping that by the year 2000, as we stated here, 50 per cent of our teaching force will be aboriginal people where we can deal with question of quality assurances in teaching all subjects in the languages.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried June 22nd, 1995

Again, Mr. Chairman, if I might very clearly say, the matter of language of instruction is the language in which you teach all subjects. That's what it is. If Mr. Antoine is saying that he has teachers in his region who can teach the subject math totally -- calculus, trigonometry -- sciences, biology, chemistry, in the language, then we will deliver the program.

But based on that, though, there is a need to ensure that, if you do have the teachers, that you have enough of them. If the issue is language as a subject -- in other words, having someone come in to teach the language so that you can teach children to learn to speak the language properly -- that's a totally different issue, and that can be done in addition to the languages of instruction. Those are two different things. That's what we are talking about when we deal with language of instruction.

Committee Motion 101-12(7): To Amend Clause 71 Of Bill 25, Carried June 22nd, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The matter that is being considered here is the matter of language of instruction. It is the language in which all the subjects are being taught. That's what it is. It's not the language as a subject. They are two different things. You have to have teachers who speak the language who can teach all the subjects in a language; you have to have the materials with which you teach the children and you have to have the appropriate numbers of students in a class in order for you to deliver that program. This is a matter of quality assurance. It's necessary so that we can have the materials and programs responsive to ensure the success of students. So, in that sense, that's the whole purpose for which we have teaching and learning centres across the Northwest Territories. That's why we have the community teacher education program, which we are, in fact, going to be implementing this year in the Deh Cho. That's the whole purpose of trying to accomplish that, so that we can have more aboriginal teachers who teach the actual subjects in the school in their own language.

The other thing is that this decision is not made solely by the principal. The community leadership is involved. Part of that also includes, under sections 117 and 118, the requirement to consult on these issues and get the advice of the community.

The other point is that this legislation allows the potential for the very consideration that the honourable Member is raising. If he's concerned that the chief is not in charge or that the council isn't, in future, there is a potential where that leadership can assume responsibility for education. So this legislation allows that to happen.

There are two components the honourable Member is confusing, I think. One is the matter of subject and the other one is instruction, and you can't confuse the two because they are two totally different bases on which we teach.

Committee Report 11-12(7): Report On The Review Of Bill 25 - The Education ActBill 25: Education Act June 22nd, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On my immediate right is Carol Whitehouse, legislative council; on my immediate left is Hal Gerein, deputy minister; on the far left is Gail Joyce, director of policy and planning; behind me on the right is Janet Grinsted, senior policy advisor; behind is Eric Colbourne, assistant deputy minister of educational development.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address June 22nd, 1995

I think it's just a dream, and I guess we all have dreams. His just happens to be a great big nightmare.


I say this in jest. As I said before, sometimes we take a great deal of criticism being on Cabinet, but to all my colleagues, I just want to say how pleased I have been. It has been my honour to serve with you. I think that every one of you on Cabinet should consider all the work you have done on their behalf, and on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories. If I had anything good to say it would be they have much to be proud of. You all deserve their support. That is all I wanted to say. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Item 9: Replies To Opening Address June 22nd, 1995

Yes. And, Mr. Pollard, if necessary, you can get angry. We don't always want you to walk in like a robot.


Stephen, the suggestion that has been made is your sense of humour is lacking. I guess a joke a day would help improve your sense of humour. If nothing else, speak to Mr. Whitford about jokes, although my recommendation would be Mr. Tuccaro.

And, of course, my good friend Don -- at least Rena's best friend -- I think you should listen to the song, "Don't let smoke get in your eyes."


That would be a good one. And, I think, certainly, the summer will allow you to put a little shine back on that Teflon you are said to have.

Silas, of course, the man. You should watch your profanity in Cabinet. This guy doesn't say too much sometimes, but when he does, he's clear about what he means.


And, of course, Nellie, the Premier. Don't worry about John Todd being the Premier.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address June 22nd, 1995

The fact is, we have all been fitted with hearing aids by the Premier, so we can hear you.

Item 9: Replies To Opening Address June 22nd, 1995

My honourable Member says tolerate, and that's probably the word that's necessary.

I must say again that whenever we come to this Assembly, it is with a lot of uncertainty and trepidation, but the success of our work doesn't always come from our ability to stand up and shout, rant and rave at each other. It comes from our ability to be practical, pragmatic; and, often from a willingness on our part to compromise our positions, because, while we have constituents to represent, we all still have a responsibility to recognize that our final responsibility in all our decisions is to all the people of the Northwest Territories, not simply our constituents. Sometimes that is misunderstood by our constituency.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say something to some people who have worked for me since I became a Member. Robert Redshaw, who many of you know, worked in this Assembly long before he became my executive assistant. He worked for Members of the House, he worked for subcommittees, he worked on the plebiscite, and, in my view, is a man with great character who is now in England supporting his wife who went back to school. He also sacrificed his time to me on behalf of his family. So I want to thank him for his contribution.

The young lady who is now my executive assistant is Jill Swann, about whom, every time I travel to the communities, everyone says is so conscientious and considerate on the phone. I am pleased with the work she is doing, and I am pleased that people across the Northwest Territories who speak to her think so highly of her without necessarily having met her.

Mr. Speaker, I want to also thank Shelley Muller who is my secretary now, and to Heather Bibby and Kathy Boyd, who previously served me as secretaries.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to say something to other people who have worked with me for the past several years, the leadership of the Gwich'in Nation: Willard Hagen, Robert Alexie, Jr., Dolly Carmichael, Chief Grace Blake, Chief Joe Charlie, Chief Freddie Greenland and Chief James Firth. Every one of those people knows that we have had some disagreements, but whatever happens, it always seems that we rise above our differences to support the collective will of the Gwich'in people, and, in some respects, that's an indication of the practical and pragmatic leadership that now rests within the Gwich'in.

I also want to thank other people, people like James Ross who was the former chief. I want to thank other chiefs who are from that region.

I just want to say to you and through you, Mr. Speaker, that I want to thank Hal Gerein, deputy minister of Education, Culture and Employment, all the staff in the department: people like Chuck Parker who is president of Aurora College; Mr. Welch; Mark Cleveland, the former president; and, the chairs of all the boards of education in both Nunavut Arctic College and Aurora College.

Of course, there's John Quirke and the staff of Safety and Public Services, every one of whom I believe serve a very difficult role in government, because in that department, we're responsible for regulations and safety factors, much of which are legislated. It's often difficult for people to appreciate the responsibility they hold. They sometimes find them difficult to get along with, but in my view, they do the work professionally and with the commitment to ensure the safety of all people, no matter who they are.


I wanted to say thank you to Bob Simpson, who both Mr. Koe and I know, who assumes a great deal of responsibility in the work he does as a Gwich'in member of the Aurora board of governors and as chair of the Mackenzie Delta/Beaufort board of education. He does all kinds of things for the Gwich'in, I don't know sometimes how the Gwich'in Nation would do without Bob Simpson. He does a great deal of work for us and I wanted to take this time to thank him.

There are others, Mr. Speaker. I think young people aren't recognized often, maybe because they are not often seen in public. I would just like to take this time to thank them for the support they've given me and the support they've given to my community. I would like to commend them, particularly a young lady who does a lot of work in the Gwich'in language, by the name of Eleanor Mitchell, who probably never thought four or five years ago that she would be in charge of the language centre in Fort McPherson. Now she has taken it upon herself to participate in the development of that language, and this is with a great deal of support from people in the community and also support from people in this Assembly doing translation for us today, Mr. Speaker. People like William George Firth and Sue Look. Without their support in the development of languages, I think it would be very difficult.

There are many others, Mr. Speaker, who contribute to my role in this Assembly. It has not always been a very good time in this Assembly. There are days when you wonder if you're going to get through the day or even the term. Some of the reasons come from difficult family situations, like deaths in the family or family crises that you have to pay a great deal of attention to. All of us have said good things about our families and I guess it would not be right of me to not recognize the contribution of Sasha, Janine, Rena and, of course -- as his mother calls him -- Richard Liam, that young fella born not too long ago. And, of course, my partner and friend, Geraldine.

As family people, whether or not we're mothers or fathers, we realize how important it is for them to be around when we have crises and difficult times in this Assembly. I think we all, as Members, want to say how much we appreciate their support and, of course, how much we continue to love them.

I wanted also to thank, Mr. Speaker, through you, all of our translators who do a wonderful job in this Assembly. It was not so many years ago that we had no aboriginal Dene translators in this Assembly, and our only translators were Inuktitut-speaking translators. I think we ought to be proud of the things that go on now because of our Dene translators who have come a long way, but it is not without respect and consideration for the Inuktitut translators. Often we watch the news late at night or the proceedings of this House and we see them in the Dene languages and Inuktitut. They do a wonderful job for us outside of this House and, as a result, provide more information to people in the communities. I want to say thank you, through you, Mr. Speaker, to all of them who do work on our behalf here.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to pay tribute again -- as many others have -- to who I consider to be our esteemed Clerk.


I say that with a great deal of support for the work he does. I want to recognize the assistant clerk today, Doug Schauerte, who does a great deal of work for your committees.


I also want to thank, through you, Mr. Speaker, all of our Assembly staff. I have had a chance to work with the researchers, hopefully for the last day, through the Education Act and all the pieces of legislation I've had to pass through this House. Sometimes they have made it difficult for me but, by God, they've done good work for the committees. I think they deserve a great deal of applause.


I want to again thank all the staff. I want to thank you and at some time, Mr. Speaker, I would like you to send a letter to all staff members on behalf of all the Members of the Assembly saying thank you. I hope you will send it individually, and not just necessarily send one letter, so it applies to all of them.

The other thing I wanted to say, Mr. Speaker, is I have a few suggestions for my Cabinet colleagues. Mr. Todd, my suggestion to you is don't shout too often in Cabinet.


Item 9: Replies To Opening Address June 22nd, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to take this opportunity to reply to the opening address. I wanted to do generally what Mr. Ng did yesterday, and that is to try to show my respect for the work that has been done by many people who have worked with me during my tenure as a Member of this Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, there is always a great deal of criticism that is often directed at Cabinet Members, and the situation during this session has been no different. But I want to say this, Mr. Speaker, despite our report cards -- and I guess they have been provided to us -- I just want to say to all my Cabinet colleagues who have served with me for the last three years or less, if nothing else, you deserve an A plus because of the time, effort and commitment that you have given to the people of the Northwest Territories. Serving in Cabinet is a very difficult task, and often, unless we say yes to Members, we are considered as being opponents to Members.

We have other factors that we have to consider in making our decisions. So not everything we do is right in the minds of Members, but I can say, without equivocation, having served with all of you, that you have done your job -- at least in my eyes, because I have had an opportunity to work with every one of you -- with diligence, consideration of all the facts, a view to trying to be fair and an effort to do the best for all the people, including your constituents. Often times, the work we do in Cabinet is at the sacrifice of our families and at the sacrifice of our constituents. So I want to commend every one of those who have served in Cabinet for their commitment to those principles.

Mr. Speaker, to you, having served in your capacity as Speaker, to Mr. Ballantyne and to Mrs. Jeannie Marie-Jewell, it is often said that being a Speaker takes away your ability to speak in this House on behalf of your constituents, and I want people to realize that your responsibility is far more than just sitting in the House and applying the rules in this House.

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that your responsibility is one of representing, to the people of Canada and to the people in the north, our Assembly and all Members in this Assembly. You not only keep the rules, but you ensure that the people know about this Assembly, how it works and all those things that are good about it.

At times we think there is nothing good about an Assembly. I often listen to Mr. Lewis who articulates the importance of a forum of this nature. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that a forum like this allows every Member an opportunity to rise and speak in opposition to those issues that some Members may feel are important, without having to feel that they are opponents. They can rise and speak their mind without having to think that someone may do things that are bad or, for that matter, at another time not support their efforts. I think that is an important consideration. I also want to say that there are other Members who have spoken about this issue in this House.

Mr. Speaker, I came to this Assembly some fifteen and a half years ago. It's interesting how many changes have occurred in this Assembly. There are three of us who have been here since 1979, and the dean of our House, Mr. Ludy Pudluk, who has been here for almost 20 years now. I have seen a lot of changes in this Assembly. Sometimes I reflect back and realize that when I came here four years ago I thought we had a group of people who were probably the most educated of all the Members that have come to this House. After four years, I wonder if we were educated, or maybe people like Ipeelee Kilabuk, Mark Evaloarjuk or Charlie Crow could have taught some of the people here a few lessons in diplomacy and dignity. I say that not with a great deal of animosity or anything, but I think that often we fail to realize how important it is for us to treat each other with some sense of respect or at least consider the facts before we...