Mr. Speaker, earlier this spring the Department of Justice hosted “Together We’re Better”, a conference on community safety planning, networking and building partnerships. Eighty people from across the Northwest Territories attended the two-day conference in Yellowknife. The focus was on small communities and included Elders, chiefs, mayors and senior community officials as well as Community Justice Workers, Aboriginal Court Workers, Corrections staff, Health and Social Services staff and representatives from NGO’s. The knowledge and experience that participants brought to the conference proved to be a key factor in its success.
The conference built on the work that the Department has been doing in partnership with Community Justice Committees and others to share information and develop strong individualized safety plans in our communities. These partnerships have been vital to the crime prevention successes we have had over the past few years with our Community Justice, Court Worker and Victim Services Programs as well as the Pan Territorial Research Project on crime prevention.
The conference “Together We’re Better” highlighted the many Justice programs and supports available to all communities in the NWT. This information was particularly directed at representatives from smaller communities who might not have been aware of the services available and do not have the capacity to deliver these programs themselves.
The conference was funded by our federal partners at the National Crime Prevention Center and the Aboriginal Justice Directorate at Public Safety Canada. Our own Community Justice and Policing Division also provided support.
The conference was timely, as many of our smaller communities will be visited this year by staff from Community Justice and Policing and the RCMP to help them refine their Policing Priority Action Plans. We recognize that by talking together we can all help make residents safer using local resources, as well as those available through the RCMP, Department of Justice and other organizations.
It is clear from the feedback we received that the conference was a tremendous success. It not only allowed community leaders to interact with front line workers, but it also encouraged collaboration, networking and partnership building amongst government departments and non-government agencies. Attendees told conference organizers that the chance to meet people from a range of communities and organizations and to exchange and discuss ideas about safety planning was a valuable experience.
Mr. Speaker, for the past four years, Members of this Assembly have been hearing about a change in the way we do business with communities to address their policing needs. I am pleased with the substantial progress we have made in focusing on safe communities with strong people who are able to be independent and healthy.
Today many communities are actively involved in discussions with the RCMP aimed at identifying local policing priorities. Some communities have also taken the next step to develop Policing Action Plans to better target resources. As we continue with this coordinated approach to community safety planning I am confident that it will continue to produce solutions that are effective because they reflect and support community needs.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.