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Bob McLeod: Self-government Agreement-in-Principle for the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells

Mr. Speaker, on January 16, 2019, I had the honour of signing the Self-government Agreement-in-Principle for the Sahtu Dene and Métis of Norman Wells, alongside our negotiating partners, the Government of Canada and the Norman Wells Land Corporation.

Reaching this Self-government Agreement-in-Principle represents a significant step in the journey towards fulfilling the obligation to negotiate self-government in the 1993 Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement. More importantly, this Agreement-in-Principle represents a key milestone in the journey towards self-government and self-determination for the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells.

Mr. Speaker, the work of negotiating and concluding land, resources and self-government agreements can be challenging, but it is essential if we are to build the Northwest Territories and Canada that we all want to be a part of. A territory and a country where our long history of working and living together is protected, and where the rights of Indigenous peoples are protected for future generations.

While there are similarities between self-government agreements in the Northwest Territories, there are also many unique aspects that take into account the different needs and self-government priorities of the communities. Simply stated, a “one size fits all” approach does not work here in the Northwest Territories.

The Agreement-in-Principle for the Sahtu Dene and Métis of Norman Wells is a good example of our commitment to negotiating self-government agreements that reflect the unique realities of each community. The Agreement-in-Principle considers how to implement the inherent right for the Sahtu Dene and Métis of Norman Wells in a community where they comprise a smaller proportion of the overall population. This Agreement-in-Principle is flexible and forward-looking, in that it allows for changes in the governance model, as the population demographics change in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud that in the Northwest Territories we have a shared history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people living, working and governing together. This is reflected in the fabric of our communities, in the languages we speak, and in the cultural and business decisions we make.

This milestone achievement is something that should be celebrated by all Northerners, not just residents of Norman Wells and the Sahtu region. That is because we know and believe that completed agreements are the basis for realizing our true social and economic potential by clarifying and providing certainty with respect to Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.

With one milestone reached, the parties are already looking ahead and have commenced negotiations on a final self-government agreement for the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells. Completing these negotiations continues to be one of the most powerful and meaningful ways that we can demonstrate our commitment to reconciliation, and to empowering our people to be self-sufficient and self-determining.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to acknowledge the hard work by the negotiating teams who have helped get us to this important moment in history. Congratulations to all of the parties on this momentous achievement, and most importantly, congratulations to the Sahtu and Dene and Metis of Norman Wells.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Hepatitis A in Chesterfield Inlet

21 February 2019 

Public Health Advisory

Hepatitis A in Chesterfield Inlet

The Department of Health advises residents of Chesterfield Inlet that there are still cases of Hepatitis A in the community. Residents should take extra precaution to help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. You can get the Hepatitis A virus by eating contaminated food or water or through contact with an infected person’s feces (stool).

People infected with Hepatitis A can have a wide range of symptoms. Some do not get sick at all, though they can still spread the infection to others. A person typically gets sick 30 days after being exposed to someone with the virus (can range from 15-50 days). Symptoms can include:

  • fever;
  • loss of appetite;
  • stomach cramps; and
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

Please take the following steps to help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water after using the washroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.
  • If you think that you have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not prepare food or pour water for others.

If you are a caregiver or babysitter for anyone who has had Hepatitis A, please go to the health centre to get the vaccine.

If you or someone in your household is showing symptoms of Hepatitis A, go to your health centre immediately as soon as you begin to feel sick.


Media Contact:

Sara Arsenault
Communications Specialist
Department of Health


NIGA Mourns the Loss of Grand Portage Tribal Chairman Norman Deschampe

Washington, D.C. – February 20, 2019 – The National Indian Gaming Association joins the rest of Indian Country in mourning the loss of Grand Portage Tribal Chairman Norman Deschampe.

According to Chairman Deschampe’s obituary, he walked on to the Spirit world on February 9th at his home of a heart attack, just a few weeks short of his 66th birthday.

Norman Deschampe was first elected to the Grand Portage Tribal Council at the age of 23 and went on to serve more than 40 years in tribal leadership — including 27 years as chairman.

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. said, “We are saddened to hear about the passing of Norman Deschampe. His life-long leadership and dedication to the Grand Portage community and all of Indian Country will never be forgotten. He lived his life devoted to the people in his tribal community. Chairman Deschampe was a personal mentor and role model to me and so many others. He was one of the finest leaders of our time.”

Deschampe, also fondly known as “Baby boy”, was born and raised on the Grand Portage Reservation, who loved his home and was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather, and leader.

After attending Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota and the University of Minnesota-Duluth, in Duluth, Minnesota, Norman returned to Grand Portage, where he was elected to the Grand Portage Tribal Council, which began his lifetime legacy as a tribal leader, serving as tribal chairman for a majority of his career. His total tenure included serving on the tribal council for 45 years, 27 of those years as the tribe’s chairman. He also served as the President of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and on the board of many other organization.

Norman was a devoted family man. He had an immense knowledge of the outdoors and was extremely generous in passing along his knowledge. Deschamps loved to take his grandchildren fishing. He took great pride in teaching his children and grandchildren how to hunt, fish, trap, and anything else that could be done outdoors. He loved to share stories of Grand Portage and his family. Rarely would you talk to Norman without hearing a joke or a story that would make you laugh.

He is survived by his wife Debbie, four daughters Carrie (Rodney) Wilson, Anna, Tina, and Sarah Deschampe (Erik Redix), Grandchildren Emilee, Owen, Jaden, Biidaash, Paxton, Grayson, and Aanakwad. Siblings Mary Ann Gagnon, Larry “Fish” Deschampe (Janis), Rosie (Rick) Novitsky, Allen (Diane) Deschampe, Sally Deschampe, and Marlene Deschampe; many nieces and nephews and all those who shared in his life.

Norman was preceded in death by his parents Norman Sr. and Irene (Hendrickson), and two infant brothers.


Alfred Moses: Cannabis Conference for Community Governments

February 20, 2019

Mr. Speaker, from January 16 to 17, 2019, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs brought community government leaders together to discuss cannabis.  This was our first opportunity for such a gathering since cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018.

Mr. Speaker, the legalization of cannabis presents challenges for Northern society.  The purpose of this conference was to look for local solutions for community governments as they deal with this new reality.  Our focus was on presenting as much information as possible for local leaders, with the right experts available to answer as many questions as possible.

The first part of the conference addressed the legislative framework for the management of legal cannabis.  I wish to express my thanks to the following departments or agencies who made their officials available: the Department of Finance, who presented on their legislation and the new retail process; the Department of Health and Social Services, who presented on cannabis smoking control and health promotion efforts; the Department of Infrastructure and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who presented on changes to the Motor Vehicles Act and associated efforts to manage impaired driving; the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission and the law firm of McLennan Ross who led an excellent session on labour relations and human resources; and Municipal and Community Affairs’ staff, who presented on community-based planning, zoning and bylaw-making authority.

The conference included a keynote speaker from Manitoba who brought a national perspective, as well as a speaker from Colorado with an international view.  In addition to the presentations, our conference organizers also provided a wide range of resources for delegates to take away and continue their learning.

Mr. Speaker, I believe there are lessons we can take away from this conference.  First, despite the State of Colorado legalizing cannabis many years ago, they are still dealing with the effects of this change today, and there will be more for us to learn going forward. Second, we know that despite providing considerable information and resources to community leaders, there is a thirst for even more information and a need to continue this discussion locally in our communities.  Finally, we heard from communities that while cannabis is now legal, there are still many impacts of drugs and alcohol that are having a continued effect on our communities and our residents, especially our youth.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that our government is continuing an aggressive public awareness campaign in the coming year.  I especially commend the efforts of the Department of Health and Social Services, with community-based workshops, as well as social marketing efforts using cutting-edge techniques such as augmented reality.  All of this is aimed at supporting our youth as they deal with this change, and I am grateful for these efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I believe community leaders were pleased with the information they received at the conference.  The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs will assist communities on issues related to community planning and local controls and from a human resources perspective as they establish proper policies for their workplaces.  We have only had legal cannabis for a little over five months.  We cannot expect to have all the answers today, but Municipal and Community Affairs will continue to support our communities and our residents as we all adapt to the reality of legal cannabis in the coming months and years.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Nunavut Economy Forecasts Continued Growth, while Health of Nunavut Inuit Decline

(Feb 20, 2019 – Iqaluit, Nunavut) The Nunavut Finance Minister has presented a budget that is virtually the same as previous years, an indication that the Government of Canada is continuing to underinvest in the Territory.

George Hickes reported the Territory’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown approximately by five percent annually since 1999 and growth in the economy is expected to remain growing by that margin into 2026.

During the Territory’s healthy economic growth we have continued to see statistics indicate declining quality in health among Nunavut Inuit. We are seeing an increase in the use of social assistance in non-decentralized communities with no plan on how to distribute the wealth across the Territory.

Since 1999 approximately 190 homes have been constructed annually. Statistics indicate Nunavut needs at least 250 new units annually in order to end homelessness and over crowded housing in Nunavut. The Minister has reported that 100 new social housing units will be constructed with no explanation as to why fewer units are being constructed.

“While it is encouraging to see additional investment in on the land treatment of addictions and trauma, it appears the Government of Nunavut budget continues to have a focus on balancing budgets as opposed to meeting the needs of Inuit in the areas of education, training, health and housing. We must see the Government create systems that allow Inuit to benefit from the economic growth the Territory has seen and will continue to see. The distribution of wealth in Nunavut needs to be addressed. We can not expect much change in the territory if we continue to see the same budget year after year,” said NTI President Aluki Kotierk.

“Thankfully we have the Nunavut Agreement to protect Inuit rights in Nunavut because 20 years after the GN’s first budget it is clear the Government of Canada needs to invest Nation-building dollars in the Territory. Until we receive this investment the Government of Canada is forcing the Minister to choose between balanced budgets and healthy people. On a day we should all be planning for an improved Territory, we find ourselves having to point out yet again that Government of Canada needs to invest in Nunavut or see their precious budgets suffer under growing social assistance and social housing needs,” concluded Kotierk.


For further information:

Franco Buscemi
Interim-Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated


YT Government: Ten regional economic development projects slated for local companies

February 20, 2019

For the second year in a row the Government of Yukon is using all 10 of its $1 million trade agreement exceptions to boost regional economic development in the territory. Projects selected this year will grow local industry through infrastructure upgrades, building construction, consultant design services and safety improvements. Only Yukon companies are invited to bid on these tenders.

The selected goods, services and construction procurements range in value from $300,000 to $997,500 for a total of approximately $7.35 million. These projects were selected for their potential to provide local employment, opportunities for skill development, industry capacity and market development.

These trade agreement exceptions support regional economic development in the territory and ensure Yukoners benefit from government spending. We worked with industry and First Nations to develop better project selection criteria this year to maximize economic benefits to Yukon communities. This is just one of the many ways we are working with industry to improve procurement in Yukon.

Minister of Highways and Public Works Richard Mostyn

Quick Facts

  • Yukon is one of eight jurisdictions in Canada that can use methods outside the procurement rules in the Canadian Free Trade Agreement for a limited number of procurements that support regional economic development. The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement provides a similar exception for regional economic development.
  • Yukon was the first jurisdiction in Canada to use this trade agreement provision last year. The 10 projects from 2017-18 totaled $3.8 million.
  • Projects selected for 2018-19 exceptions under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement and Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement include the following.
    • Public address system replacements for Porter Creek Secondary School and Vanier Catholic School – construction, Whitehorse
    • French First Language Secondary School owner’s design team – consultant services, Whitehorse
    • Modular classroom for Golden Horn – design build, Whitehorse
    • Concrete road side barriers – supply and delivery, Whitehorse
    • Bridge construction – Lee Creek and Dominion Creek, Dawson
    • Concrete road side barriers –  supply and delivery, various locations
    • Concrete barriers – site preparation and placement, various locations
    • Craig Street hydraulic tower replacement – construction, Dawson
    • Andrew A. Philipsen Law Centre holding cell improvements – construction, Whitehorse
    • Elijah Smith Elementary School lighting – construction, Whitehorse
  • Project selection is based on refined criteria developed with input from both industry and First Nations.


Janine Workman
Cabinet Communications

Katy Mead
Communications, Highways and Public Works


Robert C. McLeod: Barren-Ground Caribou Numbers

February 20, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I know you and all the other Members here understand the importance of barren-ground caribou to our communities. Caribou are central to the way of life in the North, and have sustained people here for many generations. This is why together, this Legislative Assembly made a mandate commitment to improve food security in the Northwest Territories through the effective co-management of wildlife, including caribou.

Part of achieving this commitment requires recognizing that caribou are a shared resource and that we need to work with our co-management partners including the federal government, Indigenous governments, regulatory boards, industry and other stakeholders to make shared decisions.

Mr. Speaker, last year the Government of the Northwest Territories carried out population surveys on five of our territory’s barren-ground caribou herds: the Cape Bathurst, Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula, Bluenose-West and Bluenose-East, and Bathurst caribou.  The results of those surveys were not favourable, and in November I shared the details of those results with Members and the public.

What we learnt, was that while populations of the three northern herds have stayed relatively stable, unfortunately the Bluenose-East and Bathurst caribou herds continue to experience significant declines.

These results were alarming, in that both of these populations have been reduced by half or more over the last three years despite extensive co-management actions between the GNWT and Indigenous governments and renewable resources boards to support
barren-ground conservation and promote herd recovery.

Mr. Speaker, we know that these results were concerning to the public and the GNWT shares this concern.  We know our communities are struggling without caribou, and that many families have already sacrificed a lot to help the herds recover. As you know, there has been no harvest of Bathurst caribou since 2015, and harvest of the Bluenose-East herd has been significantly reduced. However, the caribou continue to need our help.

In the months since I shared these results with our co-management partners and the public, I have been meeting with Indigenous leaders and affected communities to talk about the low caribou numbers, and hear their ideas for how we can work together to take care of the herds.

I want to particularly thank the Tlicho Leadership who have emphasized the importance of strong collaboration with the GNWT to address this urgent situation. Our two governments have been working very closely together over the past few months to consider what we can do to help support the caribou.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of ENR and myself are committed to meeting with as many of our co-management partners and Indigenous governments as we can to discuss this issue. At the end of January, I travelled with Tłı̨chǫ leadership to Whati, Wekweètì, Gameti and Behchokǫ̀. I also met with the Chiefs of the Yellowknives Dene, and my officials met with First Nations and Métis leadership in Fort Smith. Earlier this month, ENR also held meetings with Lutsel K’e First Nation and the North Slave Métis Alliance on
February 18, 2019.

One of the suggestions we continue to hear at these meetings is that more needs to be done to deal with predators, namely wolves, and I agree.  That is why the GNWT has increased the incentives we offer to wolf harvesters in the North Slave region, specifically on the wintering grounds of the Bathurst and Bluenose-East caribou.  The enhanced incentive program is meant to encourage harvesters to take more wolves on the ranges of the Bathurst and Bluenose-East caribou. At the same time, we are also looking at what more we can do together with the Tłı̨chǫ Government to reduce the impacts of predators on caribou populations.

But predators are only part of the picture, Mr. Speaker. For the last few months, the GNWT has been working closely with the Tłı̨chǫ Government to draft two joint management proposals: one for the Bathurst caribou herd and one for the Bluenose-East.

These proposals lay out the actions our two governments are proposing to take to help the herds recover, including harvest management, habitat protection and increased research and monitoring.  The proposals also reflect the recommendations in the Bathurst Caribou Range Plan.  This Plan is in the final stages of approval and will ensure we are managing activities on the land in a way that supports the recovery of our caribou herds.

Both proposals are now with the Wek’èezhìi Renewable Resources Board for review.

Mr. Speaker, in the Sahtú, the GNWT continues to support a community-based approach to conservation planning for the Bluenose-East caribou herd, centred around Délįne’s caribou conservation plan. This is a plan that has been endorsed by both the Sahtú Renewable Resources Board and the GNWT.

This is the process outlined in our established co-management system, and we have complete confidence in both Boards to make smart, effective decisions in the best interest of caribou and the people of the Northwest Territories.

I have also been speaking with my colleague in Nunavut, as the calving grounds and important post-calving areas for both the Bathurst and Bluenose-East caribou are in Nunavut.  I am making arrangements to meet with Premier Joe Savikataaq this spring, who is also the Minister of Environment.  My hope is for us to sit down with Indigenous leaders from both sides of the border to talk about what steps we can take to help our shared caribou herds.

Mr. Speaker, I know this is a passionate issue for many.  We need to avoid the temptation to point fingers and instead focus on working together to make decisions that support the caribou.

We know from both science and traditional knowledge that caribou populations have undergone sharp declines and rapid increases in the past.  We all have a role to play during this current low and the GNWT will continue to work with all of our co-management partners, through established wildlife co-management processes, to help ensure caribou can continue to sustain present and future generations of Northerners.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Government of Nunavut will wait to air its concerns about airline merger – Nunatsiaq News

February 21, 2019

Medical, duty travel contracts won’t be impacted by merger, says Nunavut’s transportation minister

The Government of Nunavut has let the federal government know what it thinks about a pending merger between Nunavut’s two major airlines, but Transportation Minister David Akeeagok says the public will have to wait a bit longer to hear the territory’s concerns.

The GN made submissions on the looming merger of Canadian North and First Air to both Transport Canada and the Competition Bureau. Those documents will be released in one final report, Akeeagok told the house on Tuesday, Feb. 19, in response to a question from Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak.

“The proposed merger between Canadian North and First Air is an issue that affects every single resident of Nunavut given our isolated communities’ reliance on air travel,” Akoak said. “Can the minister indicate what position the Government of Nunavut took in its formal written submission to the federal Department of Transport?”

Read More:

Yukon and Alaskan officials discuss cross-border opportunities

Premier Sandy Silver met with Alaska’s new Governor Mike Dunleavy and Senator Lisa Murkowski in Juneau, Alaska, on February 19 to discuss cross-border opportunities.

This was the first time Premier Silver and Governor Dunleavy have met since the Governor’s election to office in November 2018. The meeting included a discussion of topics of shared interest such as infrastructure, economic development and the growing northern tourism industry.

Premier Silver’s schedule during the three-day trip included meetings with Alaska’s Lieutenant Governor, Commissioner of Transportation, Commissioner of Environmental Conservation and Senate Majority Leader Mia Costello, with Alaska’s Senate and House of Representatives.

Global Affairs Canada and the Government of Yukon also co-hosted an evening reception for Alaska’s legislators on February 19. The Canada-Alaska Friendship Reception included remarks from both Consul General of Canada to Pacific Northwest Brandon Lee and Premier Silver.

These meetings happened as Government of Yukon representatives along with Yukon businesses and entrepreneurs were attending the Innovation Summit. The annual event is organized by the Juneau Economic Development Council and brings together hundreds of professionals from leading industries.

We have a strong history of co-operation between our territorial and state governments and I am confident that will continue with Governor Dunleavy’s new administration. This summit further highlights the limitless opportunities for our two regions to work together. We have many common interests and we are committed to working with the Government of Alaska, the Government of Canada and Indigenous Peoples to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

Premier Sandy Silver

Quick Facts

  • Premier Silver last met with Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski in 2017 during a Council of the Federation trip to Washington.


Janine Workman
Cabinet Communications

Ben Horowitz
Communications, Executive Council Office


College announces new program for front-line Yukon First Nations education and employment personnel

February 20, 2019

WHITEHORSE—Yukon College has announced a new program starting in September aimed at preparing students to take on front-line roles within First Nations education departments and other organizations in Yukon and Northern Canada.

The Community Education and Employment Support certificate program (CEES) has been developed through an extensive community engagement process, with input from the President’s Advisory Council on First Nations Initiatives and a working group featuring representatives from Vuntut Gwichin, Champagne Aishihik First Nations, Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and Kwanlin Dün First Nation. 

The program will cover various topics including case management, project management and event planning, communication, professionalism and ethics, wellness and self-care and computer and office fundamentals. The program will wrap up with a self-directed capstone project in the student’s community to practice many of the skills learned. 

Students will complete courses online and via video-conference from their own community. However, in September the program will begin by bringing all registered students together in Whitehorse for one week to build face-to-face connections between students and instructors, introduce students to supports integral to their success, learn skills for trauma-informed engagement and discuss the various front-line roles and how they work together.

“The new CEES program will increase capacity by building on the resources that already exist within First Nation governments and communities,” says Tracy Kane, Education & Employment Officer for Champagne Aishihik First Nations. “It brings together the skills, knowledge and experience from within these positions and explores what it is we do and how we can do it better. This program justifies the already strong education and employment support services we have in place and enables us to offer better support for our citizens.”

Providing education or employment support at a community level requires a diverse skill set. You are supporting people to develop goals and create a plan to achieve them, connecting people to appropriate supports and funding sources, organizing events and training programs, managing budgets and writing reports – while maintaining healthy self-care practices that enable you to do such incredibly important work,” said Faith Whiting, CEES program instructor/coordinator and former adult educator and employment support worker.

The program is open to people already working in an education and employment support role who may be seeking to expand their skills and capacity as well as people interested in taking on such a role in their community. 

Graduates of the Community Education and Employment Support program will be equipped for jobs such as community education liaison coordinator, education support worker, education outreach coordinator, employment training officer, post-secondary coordinator and employment support worker.

Applications are open. For more information go to or contact Faith Whiting at 867.456.8562.

For further information, please contact:

Faith Whiting

Instructor/Coordinator, Education Support Program
School of Health, Education and Human Services
Applied Arts

Catherine Bradbury

Chair, School of Health, Education and Human Services
School of Health, Education and Human Services
Applied Arts

Michael Vernon

Communications Coordinator
College and External Relations


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