Jackson Lafferty - Safe Schools

October 23, 2013
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

(October 23, 2013) - Mr. Speaker, bullying is a complex social issue, and has potentially devastating effects on student achievement, attendance and mental health.  Unfortunately, we have all seen the most shattering results of bullying across Canada, and we are focused on ensuring this does not happen in the NWT.  Everyone has a role to play in making sure our residents are safe and feel safe in their communities, at home, and at school.

We responded to a motion for anti-bullying legislation by proposing amendments to the Education Act in the spring session.  This includes a definition of bullying and cyberbullying, a Territorial School Code of Conduct and requirements for District Education Authorities and District Education Councils to implement safe schools plans.  We are very pleased at Standing Committee’s approach to include the students across the NWT in their public consultations on Bill 12.

Further, we have developed a Territorial Safe Schools Plan, which includes policies and procedures that we have shared with the education councils and authorities.  We are finalizing a workbook that includes guidelines, intervention and procedure reporting. 

Mr. Speaker, this is a multi-year investment with many partners, including Aboriginal governments, the Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association, school administrators, other government departments, families, communities, and students.

In all of our research, and working with our partners across Canada, we have found that youth must be the voice of bullying prevention awareness.  Through blogging, videos, mentoring, poster campaigns, and standing up against these issues, individually and in groups, youth across Canada are emerging as ambassadors.  They will be key to the awareness campaign beginning in the next month.   It will include multimedia tactics such as radio, web and videos to target student participation, as well as resources for parents and communities.

A strong, prosperous territory begins with a strong society sustained by a healthy environment. Safe Schools is an investment in a future where all of our children grow up to become healthy, educated members of society and can participate in creating safe, sustainable and vibrant communities.

Masi, Mr. Speaker.