Wally Schumann - Signing of MOU on Economic Development with Gwich'in Tribal Council

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Inuvik — June 11, 2019

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Good afternoon and thank you for being here today for the signing of the memorandum of understanding between our two governments. It’s good to be back in Inuvik for the 2019 Arctic Development Expo; and here for this event today.

This is an important event and the Premier sends his regrets, as he is unable to attend today’s signing.

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge Grand Chief Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan, our emcee David MacMartin and all the staff who are here to witness this today.

As territorial and Indigenous leaders, we are recognized outside of our territory for our extraordinary willingness to collaborate and work in partnership with those that share our goal and interest in a strong prosperous North. 

We work in partnership with Indigenous governments to make sure that together we are improving outcomes for Indigenous people and serving the best interests of all NWT residents.

The 18th Legislative Assembly identified completing two key tasks that are worth noting today.

We committed to supporting small communities by enhancing job-creation programs, building community capacity and supporting new economic opportunities.

We also committed to supporting the growth of Indigenous business development corporations and the capacity of Indigenous governments, by implementing MOUs that reflect the economic opportunity objectives found in modern land claims.

Today – with the GTC – we are formalizing exactly such an agreement. 

The MOU commits our two governments to coordinate our efforts to a single shared goal: to realize economic growth and benefits for NWT residents living and working in the Gwich’in settlement area.

It offers a broad approach to economic capacity building and sets the stage for us to align our individual government priorities and tackle them together - strategically, collaboratively and effectively.

It also positions us to look into the future and to put actions and investments in motion that will not only support the Gwich’in settlement area but strengthen and diversify the overall NWT economy.

I want to thank the Grand Chief and her council for working with us to break new trail in this area.

I believe this MOU can be a model for similar agreements with other Indigenous Governments that have settled land claims.

As leaders, I think we all have to recognize that the North is changing.

In the past 30 years, our local and Indigenous business community has experienced extraordinary growth. Northern companies now aspire, not only to engage and participate in the NWT economy, but to be a part of guiding its growth and development.

Our residents recognize the benefits that can be realized from economic activity. Especially in our smaller communities, they are looking for new and diversified businesses to maintain and improve the quality of life.

Successes in our territory have come when we work collaboratively.

Our economy will gain strength as it grows more diverse.  But, collaboration will always be our most powerful economic tool – and I look forward to continuing to build on our existing efforts and collaboration to improve the lives of the people of the Gwich’in settlement area and NWT residents.

Thank you.