Glen Abernethy - Aboriginal Inclusion

October 28, 2013
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

(October 28, 2013) - Mr. Speaker, the GNWT is recognised as one of Canada's Top Diversity employers in 2013 for the initiatives we've undertaken to enhance opportunities for Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups. The GNWT is committed to developing and maintaining a public service representative of the people we serve across the NWT.

The Department of Human Resources, in conjunction with the Aboriginal Human Resource Council, is conducting an Aboriginal Inclusion Survey among GNWT employees, focusing on recruitment and retention of Aboriginal persons.  The survey will gather information about all of our employees’ attitudes and opinions regarding Aboriginal inclusion, and determine if there are systemic barriers that contribute to perceived low rates of Aboriginal recruitment and retention.

Human Resources, working with the Aboriginal Employees Advisory Committee, has engaged the Aboriginal Human Resources Council so we can identify the GNWT’s strengths, weaknesses, strategies, practices and behaviours related to Aboriginal inclusion.  We share the Council’s goal of advancing the full labour market participation of Aboriginal peoples. The Aboriginal Human Resources Council has collaborated with us to develop the survey questions, is administering the survey and receiving the responses, and will prepare a final report and recommendations based on the survey results.

Aboriginal culture, values and experience inform program and policy development as well as front-line service delivery, and we are providing training in Aboriginal cultural awareness through our new Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training program. It is imperative that our public servants appreciate and respect NWT Aboriginal cultures. These training modules are accessible on line - for our staff and for any member of the public to view - and we are rolling out facilitated training sessions for our staff across the NWT this month. The training has been recognised internationally as a Top Ten Innovation in Diversity, putting us in the company of other progressive employers like RBC, Sodexo and American Airlines.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT is committed to creating a representative public service that reflects the diverse cultures of the NWT and promotes the development and advancement of Aboriginal people.  We are making progress in attracting, advancing and retaining Aboriginal employees – statistics show movement in the right direction:

  •  During the 17th Legislative Assembly, indigenous Aboriginal persons have filled 19 of 59 senior management staffing opportunities.
  •  Almost 20% of senior managers are indigenous Aboriginal. This has been increasing over the years, up from 15% in 2009.
  •  Since 1999, the rate of Aboriginal employee growth has been larger than that for non-Aboriginal employee growth, and for the rate of GNWT workforce growth overall.
  •  The biggest increases in rates of Aboriginal employee growth have occurred in the management and health occupational areas.


Mr. Speaker, we do not rest on our laurels; more needs to be done.  We are committed to continuing this momentum in order to champion diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness, and to see more Aboriginal people represented at all levels of the public service.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.