(June 5, 2013) - Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce a new initiative that aims to promote the Government of the Northwest Territories as an inclusive workplace, a key commitment of 20/20: A Brilliant North, the NWT Public Service Strategic Plan.
The Northwest Territories is proud to be the only jurisdiction in Canada that recognizes National Aboriginal Day as a statutory holiday, and we celebrate on June 21 of each year. To coincide with Aboriginal Day 2013, I am pleased to confirm that the Government of the Northwest Territories will be launching Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training for employees of the GNWT public service.
Participants will gain increased understanding about Aboriginal culture; enhanced awareness, recognition and respect in the workplace; and a renewed spirit of inclusion among GNWT employees. New staff will learn about the communities and regions they live in and the residents they serve. They will learn that the land is our life and the source of our wealth and wellbeing. Healthy people depend on a healthy environment, and our natural resources have the potential to transform our economy, creating jobs and opportunities for all.
Cultural awareness helps to build a shared sense of community and culture among people with diverse backgrounds. Diversity and inclusion are crucial aspects of a strong and stable public service. Ultimately, this training reaffirms that Aboriginal values and partnerships are a key foundation piece for the GNWT, and guide program design and implementation in the spirit of recognition, respect and responsibility.
The four modules cover the importance of culture and cultural awareness; Aboriginal People of the Northwest Territories; History of the Northwest Territories from an Aboriginal Perspective; and present and future issues for Aboriginal People in the Northwest Territories.
The modules are made up of videos, photographs, artwork, stories, audio recordings and interactive activities designed to generate discussion. The training material is relevant, comprehensive, and informative, and will promote an inclusive work environment through broadened cultural understanding. Businesses and community groups are welcome to use it if it meets their needs. The modules will be available starting on June 20 on the Department of Human Resources website. Facilitated training sessions for GNWT employees in regional centers and Yellowknife are scheduled to start this fall.
Mr. Speaker, strengthening relationships with Aboriginal Governments is a priority of the 17th Legislative Assembly. Our recognition, respect and commitment for Aboriginal culture and values are strong. Successful initiatives such as the launch of Aboriginal language apps, that were developed by Education, Culture and Employment in partnership with Yamozha Kue Society and the Dene Aboriginal Language Communities, to preserve and promote language use; the recent Traditional Games Championships highlighting Inuit and Dene traditional games; and the respected “Take a Kid Trapping” program introducing youth to traditional harvesting practices help all residents gain knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal values and practices. This understanding helps strengthens our communities and governments as we work together to serve the interests of all NWT residents.
Mr. Speaker, the training was developed with the support and involvement of the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, Deninu K’ue First Nation, Smith’s Landing First Nation, Salt River First Nation, Yellowknives Dene First Nation in both Dettah and N’dilo, and Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation. These Aboriginal organizations and governments, along with the Prince of Wales Heritage Museum, provided a significant amount of the audio and video material.
As well, members of the GNWT Aboriginal Employee Advisory Committee and employees from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations provided valuable input and feedback throughout development.
Mr. Speaker, the GNWT is committed to promoting an inclusive work environment, increasing communication and improving working and personal relationships through broadened cultural understanding. As a government, we are also committed to ensuring that programs and services acknowledge and are inspired by NWT Aboriginal values and traditions, and that public servants can carry out their work guided by this philosophy.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.