Wally Schumann: Opening Remarks - Geoscience Forum

It is great to be here at the 45th annual Geoscience Forum and to see how much this event has grown over the years. I would like to recognize the Northwest Territories (NWT) and Nunavut Chamber of Mines and staff of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment for organizing this important event each year and for the invitation to speak here tonight.

The foundation of our economy for the foreseeable future is resource development. The Northwest Territories abundant natural resources are not only key to growing and sustaining our economic future but are also essential to lowering the cost of living, as well as developing training, educational and capacity building opportunities. Our economy depends on the strength of this foundation and the revenues and opportunity it provides, and the people, all of you in this room today, to be part of building and maintaining that foundation.

Canada needs need a solid vision for strategically investing in the North in order to support economic development – and this includes infrastructure. We want to develop the North to have the same benefits as Southern Canada, and our partners in this room will benefit from our prosperity and development. A strong Northern economy benefits everyone.

Our natural resources are not only the key to growing and sustaining our economic future but are essential to lowering the cost of living, to developing training, educational and capacity building opportunities.

The broader development of our resources will contribute to the GDP not just of the NWT, but also to neighbouring jurisdictions, and to all of Canada.

Diversifying our economy is necessary to providing opportunities for our residents and to create a resilient economy, but the reality is that the development of the resource sector remains the cornerstone of our economic stability.

The partnerships that we will build will help the Northwest Territories move forward to become a far greater part of the Canadian economy, and give our residents the opportunity of economic self-determination.

However, our path to stability and resource prosperity is disadvantaged by a lack of clear plan for federal strategic investments in infrastructure. Nowhere is the economic link between infrastructure and economic prosperity as obvious as it is in the Northwest Territories.

Our economic future depends on our ability to develop the infrastructure necessary to support today and of tomorrow.

Meaningful investment in transportation infrastructure would unleash the potential of the North to contribute to Canada’s wealth, and the time is now to do so, to help us build the Nation.

Transformative investment in Canada’s North by the Federal government in partnership with our government and our Indigenous partners will strengthen Canada’s position internationally, and help it become a leader in the circumpolar world.

This we truly believe, and that’s why our government is investing in this work now, to help us grow our economy and improve the lives of our residents.

We have a vision of a strong, prosperous territory that provides opportunities for all our communities and regions. Sustainable, responsible development of our natural resources is a significant part of realizing that vision, and strengthening our economy through the responsible development of these resources will allow us to reach our full potential.

Our renewed focus on mapping the geoscience of our territory has proven successful. Reports released this year on the potential of the Slave Geological Province has led to the largest number of claims in the NWT since 2014.

We have invested approximately $3.4 million in support for geoscience, marketing, Aboriginal capacity building, and our ongoing annual funding for the Mining Incentive Program.

The GNWT has responded to the needs in our marketplace by implementing, and extending, incentives for exploration. This includes our Work Credits Program which we extended by two years.

Explorers now have access to an extraordinary collection of core samples from past work completed across the territory at the new geological materials storage facility here in the city. This will allow analysis of historical samples for new mineral potential at a fraction of the cost of drilling new samples.

At the heart of the competitive, well-managed mineral regime we want to foster good legislation.

We remain on-track to deliver our territory’s first ever Made-in-the-North mining legislation in the life of this government. A stand-alone Mineral Resources Act will allow us to reflect the unique regulatory needs and the specific priorities of our territory, ensuring we protect our land and cultural heritage at the same time we develop our economy.

Decisions about the future of Canada’s North have a direct impact on the lives and economic future of our residents, and Northerners need to be at the table when decisions are being made.

Northerners are innovative, self-sufficient and resilient, and want to do their part to contribute to a strong country. One of the ways we hope to continue to work towards this goal is through partnership, a key element of how we operate.

It cannot be overstated the role our partners play in helping to shape the Northwest Territories today, and into the future. There are many people in this room that have connections to the North, who play a part in the successes we achieve on a regular basis, and want to be part of building a strong North for the people who live there.

We need you, our partners, to make yourselves heard in the discussion about the future of the Northwest Territories that we should be having. You all play an important role in advocating for what the North needs, and the stronger our voices are, the better opportunity there is to create a vision for the North that will benefit each and every one of us.                     

Thank you.