Premier Bob McLeod recognized the extraordinary work of Aboriginal governments in ensuring economic benefits of the diamond mines are realized at the community level, and taking leadership in socio-economic management.
The remarks came as part of the Diamond Gala, a Government of the Northwest Territories and NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines co-sponsored event concluding the 2016 Yellowknife Geoscience Forum.
(Check against delivery)
Thank you. It’s good to be back.
There are many individuals, organizations, and all levels of government working hard to advance economic development in the Northwest Territories.
Aboriginal governments are playing a key role. They tirelessly advocate on behalf of their people, and encourage community economic development.
Our government recognizes this, and works closely with Aboriginal governments on our many mutual goals.
Through collaboration with public government and industry, pursuing agreements representing the interests of their constituents, and fostering economic opportunity, Aboriginal governments play a significant role in bringing the benefits of diamond mining to our communities and residents.
To foster economic opportunity, Aboriginal governments took the lead in building development corporations. These development corporations have built successful businesses capitalizing on diamond mining activity. The mines have spent over $5.5 billion with Aboriginal businesses like the Yellowknives Dene First Nations’ Det’on Cho Logistics; the Tlicho Government joint venture Tli Cho Landtran; and the 100% Tlicho-owned DLFN Holdings Ltd. This demonstrated commitment by Aboriginal governments to participate in the mining industry has created hundreds of jobs for Northerners and contributed many spin-off benefits for our territorial economy.
To represent the interests of their constituents, Aboriginal governments across the territory went to work negotiating Impact Benefit Agreements with the operators when mines were identified. The agreements have seen millions in scholarships, sponsorships, and other community investments to further community well-being. They have entrenched preferential hiring at the mines, ensuring their residents have access to well-paid positions.
Aboriginal governments have also worked closely with the GNWT on monitoring under Socio-Economic Agreements with the diamond mines. Their consistent engagement is critical to the economic growth and success of the Northwest Territories as their input allows us to evaluate how well these agreements are working, and what needs to be done to advance our priorities in community wellness and sustainable development.
And perhaps most important to capturing the benefits of diamond mining is the dedication of Aboriginal governments to engaging with government and industry. We are pleased to work with Aboriginal governments through co-management boards and consultations to make decisions on issues of land and resource management. And regular communication with diamond mine operators has been instrumental in building the dynamic economic relationships which so many have benefitted from.
I would like to offer our commitment that the Government of the Northwest Territories will continue to do its part in pursuing a partnered approach to industrial development. It is central to our belief in the necessity of respect, recognition, and responsibility for productive intergovernmental relationships.
Without your support, the Northwest Territories would never have become the third-largest diamond producer by value in the world. We would never have realized the billions in economic activity, millions in government revenue, and thousands of jobs which diamonds have provided.
With the Northwest Territories’ continuing efforts to spur growth, and the active role Aboriginal governments have played in economic development, I see a bright future for the industry in our territory.
I would now like to call up some leaders in this area to accept a token of our appreciation.