Two MLAs are pushing the GNWT to launch an inquiry into last summer’s wildfire crisis.
Kieron Testart, MLA for Range Lake, and Sheryl Yakeleya, MLA for Deh Cho, have introduced a motion to the 20th Legislative Assembly for the creation of a public inquiry into the fires that forced much of the NWT to evacuate from their homes last year.
Should the motion be allowed to move forward, four individuals will be assigned to look into the ways that the GNWT responded to the wildfire situation. They will be investigating the responses of both local and Territory-wide governments, and the choices they made in regard to emergency management.
This motion falls under the Public Inquiries Act, which allows for an inquiry request to be made for any matter of public concern. The four individuals who will lead the investigation will have two members selected by the Cabinet, and two members selected by Regular Members. These individuals will be able to call upon witnesses, produce documents relevant to their investigation, and force the attendance of any required person to the inquiry.
Having served as an essential worker during the fires before his election, Kieron Testart holds a unique point of view on what happened. He stated that this motion for an inquiry is “a necessary step to restoring public trust in our government after a chaotic and unprecedented crisis for our territory.”
He added that Northerners are still suffering from the events of last summer, in both individual and collective traumas. He hopes to allow those who have been the most affected by the fires to share their stories of what happened, and that their recollections will pave the way for actions to be taken that will improve public safety in the event of similar disasters in the future.
As the representative of Enterprise, Sheryl Yakeleya stands for the community that was most damaged by the fires. She states that the people of Deh Cho have been asking for a clear and transparent investigation into the fires that destroyed many of their homes.
She added that many of the residents of the Deh Cho area have lived in the Northwest Territories since the earliest recorded days, and that they deserve a look into the decisions that were made during this emergency.
We have reached out to Sharyl Yakeleya for an extended conversation on this inquiry.
The motion for the Inquiry will be debated and decided upon on Thursday, February 8th.