Caroline Cochrane: Fort Smith Situation

Déclarations et discours de ministres

Yellowknife — 7 mars 2022

Check Against Delivery

Mr. Speaker, over the last three days, the community of Fort Smith and its residents have been faced with a difficult and scary situation that has shaken their sense of safety to the core.

As a result of a significant police operation in the community, residents were forced to lock themselves in their homes, businesses, or wherever they could seek safety, while the RCMP searched for an individual considered to be armed and dangerous. Thankfully the individual has been brought into custody.

Mr. Speaker, we have lost others to violent crime in the NWT. We acknowledge that the impacts of crime on a person and community have immediate and long-lasting impacts on those who had no choice in the matter.

On behalf of Cabinet and the Government of the Northwest Territories, I want to extend my sincerest and deepest condolences to the community of Fort Smith and the family and friends of the resident who has tragically lost their life in this incident. We will hold them in our hearts and honour their memory.

We all know just how close-knit communities in the North can be. When tragedy like this strikes it tears at the very fabric of what it means to be a Northerner. Senseless violence that leads to the loss of life often leaves us with more questions than answers and immense pain and sadness. It is in moments like these that we must pull together and be there for those who have been impacted and support them the best we can.  To the community of Fort Smith, our support for you, like the strength and resilience you have shown during this difficult time and will continue to show, is unwavering.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the many members of law enforcement in the Northwest Territories who have gone above and beyond to ensure the safety and well-being of residents in Fort Smith during this difficult time. They put themselves in harms way on a regular basis and risk their lives to protect our homes and communities. I thank them, and all first responders, for their unwavering dedication, professionalism, and service, and for always being there for us.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell residents who may be struggling to make sense of what has happened to reach out for support. There is no shame in asking for help. The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority has established a dedicated community crisis line for Fort Smith to provide mental health and community wellness services to children, youth, adults, and families in the community. This is available 24/7 and can be accessed by calling 867-872-0890. There are several other services available to residents so please visit the Health Authority’s website for more details. 

We will continue to work with leadership in the community, including the MLA for Thebacha, to ensure the GNWT continues to support residents and the community as best we can during this time.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.