Shane Thompson: Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods

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Mr. Chairman, traditional ways of life are a very important part of the social, cultural and economic fabric of communities in the Northwest Territories.

Traditional livelihoods help keep cultures strong and sustain practices on the land. This supports food security, provides individuals with valuable income-earning opportunities, and sustains a strong traditional economy throughout the territory. Supporting sustainable livelihoods is a high priority for our government, and today I would like to highlight some of the investments and achievements that we are very proud of. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has expanded its programs this year to strengthen existing support for people to access land-based activities and continue traditional practices.

ENR worked closely with the Department of Education, Culture and Employment to adapt the existing Hunter Education Program, which is now offered as a credit program in NWT high schools. This program, developed in partnership with Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations and respected anglers, places safety and respect at the center of the training offered to new young anglers. Current high school students, who will be the next generation of anglers, will take the new course this winter in a pilot program at nine NWT schools.

Mr. Speaker, we know that supporting culture is also important for healing. ENR worked with the Department of Justice to develop a trapper training program that will be offered to inmates at the North Slave Correctional Centre. This training will help participants become familiar with trapping regulations, the Authentic Mackenzie Valley Fur Program, how to set traps and prepare pelts, and a variety of field and survival skills. It is not only an opportunity to reconnect with traditional ways of life, but also to develop practical skills that participants can use when they return to their communities. Although the rollout of this program has been delayed due to COVID-19, we look forward to starting offering this new program soon.

Mr. Speaker, we also continued to help families settle in the territory through many new and existing programs.

In January, ENR provided nearly $180,000 for 17 projects under the second installment of the Take a Family On the Land program. This funding will support 17 organizations to help people get out into the field with the person they consider family.

Mr. Chairman, the GNWT also continues to support the NWT On the Land Collaborative, which brings together government, charitable, corporate and other partners to provide financial support for projects throughout the NWT that promote the development of traditional skills on Earth. In 2022, the NWT On the Land Collaborative will invest nearly $1 million in 54 projects across all regions of the NWT. I would like to acknowledge that the NWT On the Land Collaborative has been recognized by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association with a partner award for its innovative work. Our government congratulates all partners of the On the Land collaboration for the exceptional work they do each year and for this well-deserved award.

Mr. Chairman, while we are proud of the programs offered by ENR, we recognize the importance of reviewing them regularly to ensure that they continue to effectively support land-based activities.

To that end, we recently spoke with hunters, trappers and other anglers in the Northwest Territories about the Long-Time Community Fisherman’s Assistance Program.

We received valuable feedback on what is working well and where the program can be improved. A What We Heard report, with eight recommendations for improvement, was shared publicly in January 2022. The intent was to solicit additional public feedback to ensure we got it right. ENR is currently working to update some elements of the program and will use the information provided to continue this work.

Mr. Speaker, these investments are intended to help fishers, families and local leaders continue to encourage sustainable lifestyles. I would like to acknowledge the extremely important role of Elders, knowledge holders, Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations in their efforts to develop traditional activities and ways of life.

Our government will continue to provide support as part of our efforts to strengthen the traditional economy, create employment opportunities in small communities and increase food security for residents of the Northwest Territories.

Thank you, Mr President.

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