The Northwest Territories Premier has issued a Red Alert.
In a statement this morning, Bob McLeod says the true identity of the North is disappearing with the “re-emergence of colonialism.”
“Decisions about the North should be made in the North.”
McLeod blames the South.
“For too long now policies have been imposed on us from Ottawa and southern Canada that, despite good intentions sometimes, and ignorance other times, are threatening our economic potential and the decades long work that we as a government have taken on Indigenous reconciliation,” says the NWT Premier. “Whether it be ill conceived ways of funding social programs, or new and perplexing restrictions on our economic development, our spirit and energy are being sapped.”
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McLeod says the Northwest Territories is built on the history of Indigenous peoples. Five of the seven NWT cabinet ministers are Indigenous, McLeod included. According to the Premier, reconciliation was a fact of life for our government years before it gained national prominence; however, everything the Territorial and Federal Government have built over the last several years is in jeopardy.
“New funding approaches that distinguish between peoples may help to improve outcomes on reserve in southern Canada, but could divide Northern communities, threatening the services and programs all NWT residents have come to expect and enjoy,” McLeod states. “Policy makers need to understand that what works in the south doesn’t always work in the North before they make decisions that could stretch the social fabric of our communities thin.
“Restrictions imposed on our vital energy and resource sector – 40 percent of our economy and source of middle class jobs and incomes for many of our people – are driving companies away, and with that go the jobs that sustain healthy families and community life. Staying in or trying to join the middle class will become a distant dream for many.”
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Premier McLeod states that he is happy that the Federal Government is adopting some of the principles the Indigenous leaders have laid out out of their own aspirations and values. McLeod just doesn’t want to see the hard work being undone.
“Northerners, through their democratically elected government, need to have the power to determine their own fates and the practice of decisions being made by bureaucrats and governments in Ottawa must come to an end. Decisions about the North should be made in the North. The unilateral decision by the federal government, made without consultation, to impose a moratorium on arctic offshore oil and gas development is but one example of our economic self-determination being thwarted by Ottawa.”
McLeod offered to for himself and the Cabinet of the Northwest Territories to meet with the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples. He wants to share what he feels is a considerable amount of experience and expertise with respect to the Indigenous reconciliation.
“The time is upon us to reset the course of the North. Meaningful reconciliation requires it, and the dream of a true north, strong and free, depends on it.“