Caroline Cochrane: Advancing Reconciliation Through Collaborative Development of Legislation

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — March 9, 2023

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Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the recent addition of the Legislative Assembly’s Process Convention related to the introduction, consideration, and enactment of bills under the Intergovernmental Council Legislative Development Protocol. I do not often get to express appreciation for the work of the Legislative Assembly as led by you Mr. Speaker, and supported by the Clerk and your staff. This new process convention is another example of the Northwest Territories leading the way in collaboration with Indigenous governments.

Devolution of lands and resources gave the Government of the Northwest Territories the opportunity to do things better. One of the commitments made was to work collaboratively in the development of land and resource legislation and policies through an Intergovernmental Council with Indigenous government partners. This was done to ensure that the interests of Indigenous peoples as they relate to lands and resources are well considered as this government undertakes its work, and to encourage further collaboration and harmonization as Indigenous governments create their own laws respecting lands and resources through self-government.

In December of 2020 the Legislative Development Protocol was implemented to guide collaboration among the Executive branch of the GNWT and Indigenous governments in the development of lands and resources legislation. That protocol provides a consistent approach for the parties to follow, but it necessarily stopped short of directing what happens when a bill is developed and put forward to the Legislative Assembly.

The work done by the Legislative Assembly and the Intergovernmental Council Secretariat to develop a process convention addressing legislation drafted in cooperation with the Intergovernmental Council, is the first of its kind. It demonstrates the NWT’s leadership in working collaboratively with Indigenous governments.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to this process convention being utilized so that when lands and resource legislation is put before this Legislative Assembly, MLAs have the benefit of hearing directly from Indigenous governments. As Standing Committees undertake their work and consider potential improvements to bills, Indigenous governments will be informed and may attend and participate in reviews. This is an example of reconciliation in action, and I wish to thank the Legislative Assembly for its support of our shared goal of advancing reconciliation.

Good work, Mr. Speaker!

Merci. Mr. Speaker.