Bob McLeod – Devolution Signing Ceremony – Legislative Assembly Great Hall

May 26 2014
Salt River First Nation Chief Frieda Martselos and Premier Bob McLeod

Salt River First Nation Chief Frieda Martselos and Premier Bob McLeod

Elders, leaders, colleagues, ladies and gentleman, thank you for joining us here today.  I would  like to recognize and welcome  Chief Harry Deneron of the Acho Dene Koe First Nation, President Ernie McLeod of the Fort Liard Metis Local #67, Chief Frieda Martselos of the Salt River First Nation and Sub-Chief Robert Sayine of the Deninu Kue First Nation. Iwould also like to recognize my colleagues Ministers Lafferty, Miltenberger, Beaulieu and Ramsay and MLAs…..

We are here today to welcome three new parties to the Devolution Agreement. It is a good day for the people these Aboriginal governments represent, and for the people of the Northwest Territories.

Devolution had been a goal of the people and the Government of the Northwest Territories for many years. I am proud to be part of the 17th Assembly that has made this goal a reality, along with our partners in the Government of Canada, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, the Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Tlicho Tłįchǫ Government. We are pleased to see our partnership grow today and welcome the additional strength that the Acho Dene Koe First Nation and Fort Liard Metis, Salt River First Nation and Deninu Kue will bring to it.

Devolution gives all of us who live in the Northwest Territories new opportunities to work together to create the kind of territory we know this can be.  A territory able to realize its full potential.  A prosperous territory that creates jobs and economic opportunities for all its residents.  A territory where strong, well-resourced governments provide the programs and support their people need to achieve their aspirations for themselves and their families.

Through devolution, the people of the Northwest Territories have gained new powers to manage Northern lands and waters through responsible, balanced resource development and to ensure that the people who live here can meaningfully participate in, and benefit from, economic development in this territory.

We have gained access to new sources of revenue that will be put to use on behalf of all residents and communities. To ensure that as many people as possible enjoy the benefits of devolution, our government has committed to sharing a portion of those revenues with participating Aboriginal governments. We have also created the Intergovernmental Council that will give participating governments new opportunities for working together on land management.

The Intergovernmental Council will provide a territorial-wide perspective on resource management issues based on legislation and land use plans. This model of intergovernmental partnership with Aboriginal governments, is the only one of its kind in Canada.

I believe that with resource revenue sharing and the intergovernmental council, the Northwest Territories  has set an example that all Canadian governments should be striving for. The days of a divided society with second class citizens are over. We have a future together, we are stronger, together. The lesson for the rest of Canada is that it can be done, the people of the Northwest Territories have done it, the rest of the nation can follow our lead.

At the beginning of the 17th Assembly all MLAs recognized the importance of working with Aboriginal governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories developed an Aboriginal engagement strategy called Respect, Recognition and Responsibility. That strategy has served us well and is bearing more fruit today.  I believe that the sharing of resource revenues from balanced development and the establishment of the intergovernmental council show how committed this Assembly is to our stated goals.

Partnerships were critical to negotiating devolution and will be the key to successfully implementing it. As we continue to exercise our new authorities, we will begin to see opportunities for better serving the people of the Northwest Territories and reflecting their views and priorities. The active participation of our partners will be essential in helping us identify these opportunities and ways to capitalize on them.

Our government has said that we hope that all Aboriginal governments will join us at the devolution table. To that end, we continue to work with remaining Aboriginal governments to find ways to welcome their participation that are consistent with the goals and values of each party. Today’s signing reflects that work and underlines our commitment to creating effective Northern partnerships that will benefit all our people.

Our government has long believed that decisions about the North need to be made by the people those decisions affect. The people who live here and know this land the best are the ones best placed to decide how we should manage our land and resources, according to Northern priorities and values. Our territory has the potential to create prosperity for all its residents, and to contribute to national prosperity as well. Joining together to make the best decisions possible for our people is our path forward and I am pleased to welcome our new signatories today.

 

Thank you.