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Good evening everyone, and welcome.
Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututht First Nations.
I would also like to take a moment and extend regrets from the Premier of the Northwest Territories, Caroline Cochrane for not being able to join us this evening.
She had planned to welcome everyone this evening and I know she was looking forward to speaking with many of you – but was unfortunately called back unexpectedly and had to return home this evening.
It has been a busy few days here in Vancouver, and though the Premier was called away, she was able to lead some important conversations this week in meetings that Minister Thompson and myself have joined her in, as well as participated in some important announcements that I will touch on shortly – and for that I know she is grateful.
As many of you know, coming to Roundup is important for our government and as the new Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment and Minister of Infrastructure – it was especially important for me.
Coming this year as the Minister responsible for this important sector – it was essential for me that as many opportunities as possible were seized to formally introduce myself to the members of the industry, meet with some of our partners, and most importantly, hear directly from exploration companies who are already doing business in the North to find out how we, as a government, can better support them.
I think I bring a unique perspective to the table and one that I am hoping can be leveraged as our government works to increase the resource development sector in the North.
I am, as I like to call it, a boots-on-the-ground Engineer by trade and have first-hand experience about what it’s like to do business in the North.
I have been on the other side of the table - working with partners and the government, applying for permits, trying to navigate the procurement process and much more. I also understanding firsthand the importance of making sure mining in the North is done safely, having worked on the Giant Mine project for a number of years.
I understand that the NWT has some challenges, but because of my experiences, I have some ideas about ways they can be improved – starting first with strengthening our partnerships and continuing to facilitate the relationships between Indigenous and public governments and industry. This will be key in progressing this sector in a safe and sustainable way.
Our partners are one of our greatest assets in the North and I want to take a moment to highlight and celebrate some of the partnerships that, I believe, are leading to new opportunities in our mining industry.
First, I’d like to recognize the leadership of Cheetah Resources, Det’on Cho Corporation, and the Yellowknives Dene. Their contract, to begin Canada’s first rare earth project, with the first Indigenous-led mine site, could be a game changer - not just for our territory, but our country.
I also want to congratulate the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation for the release of their regional mining strategies earlier today.
These strategies will serve as roadmaps for industry looking to explore, and action plans for Indigenous governments as they seek to attract investment on their terms.
And finally I’d like to highlight the partnerships we have our neighbouring territories and Canada.
On Sunday, the Premier participated in an announcement for the Invest Canada North Initiative. A brand new partnership - backed by the Government Canada and supported by Canada’s three territorial governments and the industry representatives that make up the North’s mining and exploration sector.
These kinds of partnerships are leading the way back to prosperity in our territory.
That’s really the purpose of coming out in force to events like these: to build relationships and seek out new partnerships which will benefit our territory. Collaboration will improve our collective fortunes.
I want to close my remarks tonight by reiterating what many of you already know – that this is an exciting time for the North.
For the first time ever, we have a gender-balanced Assembly governing our work, and the only female Premier in Canada.
Other female leaders such as the City of Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty and Grand Chief Bobbi-Jo Greenland who I believe are both here tonight, are also contributing to the excitement of the North and the batch of strong females we have leading the way for the next generation.
We’re also going to start to see some of our transformative projects take shape – which is something to look forward to.
The Slave Geological Province, Mackenzie Valley Highway and Taltson Hydro Expansion are projects that will connect our communities, green our economy and support exploration companies as they look to the North to do business and access our rich mineral deposits in a way that is environmentally sustainable.
I am excited for the future of the NWT and proud to be standing here today in this role as Minister of ITI and Infrastructure, but also as part of a government that is committed to working together, hearing concerns and then trying to solve the problems based on all the information collected.
I hope many of you will be part of our future and I’d like to you for being here this evening. I look forward to meeting and speaking with as many of you as possible tonight, and in the future.