(Yellowknife, NT – November 1, 2017) The Premier of the Northwest Territories, Bob McLeod does not stand alone in issuing his Red Alert today in which he appeals to the Federal Government for an urgent national debate on the future of the Northwest Territories because “the promise of the North is fading and the dreams of northerners are dying as we see a re-emergence of colonialism.”
We support the Premier’s appeal. The NWT has 85 years of resource production history in both mining and oil and gas, creating significant benefits to Canada. We aren’t a colony.
Over the past 21 years, our northern diamond mining industry alone has made nationally significant and progressive strides, including:
• Training to assist over 1,300 Indigenous and northern residents get mining jobs;
• Providing over 26,000 person-years of Northern jobs of which 50% are Indigenous;
• Conducting $13 billion in Northern business of which $5.6 billion is Indigenous business;
• Contributing over $100 million to Indigenous and northern communities in various benefit agreement payments, scholarships, and donations; and
• Providing resource royalties to Indigenous governments, perhaps the first in Canada to do so.
The Federal Government was elected on a strong mandate for Indigenous reconciliation and creation of middle class, the very goals that our minerals industry is achieving in the north and for Canada. However,
• We have received virtually no acknowledgement of our efforts and needs as we work to create significant new opportunities and benefits for Indigenous and northern communities. Our appeals for regulatory assistance go largely unanswered;
• While Canada once supported northern resource development to help advance the region as an economic part of Canada, a 40 year infrastructure investment gap has left industry on its own, forced to generate its own power, build its own roads, ports and airstrips;
• Compounding that, we see Ottawa announcing a carbon tax that will further burden our development efforts given the northern infrastructure gap Canada has failed to fill;
• We see Ottawa unilaterally apply a moratorium on oil and gas development, creating concerns that mineral development might be next. And with another Ottawa announcement to protect 17% of Canada from development, our concerns mount, as over 30% of the NWT is already off limits to development given Ottawa’s lack of progress on land claims. These policies have been initiated without consultation with Northerners;
• Ottawa speaks about creating a new Arctic Policy Framework, but there has been no discussion of how northerners and our industry might be involved in this work. Of great concern, the evidence we provided the Minister’s Special Representative working on this Arctic policy was ignored in her final report, as observed by the Nunavut Premier to media: “The disappointing part about the report is that there are no recommendations on, nor mention of, resource development, a critical part of building healthy and sustainable communities in the Arctic”;
• All of this flies in the face of devolution, the process in which Ottawa supposedly handed control over to the NWT to start standing on its own economic legs. And even that process still sees Ottawa retaining control over resource management legislation, and limiting the GNWT’s ability to collect resource royalties.
As the Premier was quoted in the media, “We need jobs. We need work. You want us to leave the North because we can’t work there. You want us to live in a large park. That’s essentially what’s happened.”
As our President, Gary Vivian told the Federal Standing Committee on Finance this fall, “Resource development generates huge benefits for the North and its residents. We’ve seen enormous results and we still have huge untapped mineral wealth in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. But we cannot do it alone. There is a huge need for the Federal Government to help.”
“We stand with Premier McLeod and his Red Alert, calling for Ottawa to support northerners’ economic self-determination with northern involvement in building a strong and viable Northern economy,” he added. “That would include using the great northern mineral endowment to sustain the nationally significant benefits that our minerals industry has set in motion over the past eight decades in the NWT and the past two decades in both territories.”
For more information on the NWT and Nunavut mining industries, please visit the website at http://www.miningnorth.com
Contact: Tom Hoefer, Executive Director at Tel: 867-873-5281 or
email: [email protected]