Caroline Wawzonek: Summary of the Government of the Northwest Territories Initiatives at Association for Mineral Exploration Roundup

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Blog Entries

Yellowknife — February 10, 2023


Mr. Speaker, last month I attended the annual Association for Mineral Exploration Roundup conference in Vancouver with fellow Cabinet Members and government officials. We were there to advance this Legislative Assembly’s priorities to increase resource exploration and development in our territory; adopt a benefit retention approach to economic development; make strategic infrastructure investments; and, to identify, prioritize, and strengthen key actions to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Achieving meaningful progress on these multiple and complex priorities is far more effective through partnerships. To most effectively achieve strategic investments and economic development alongside the advancement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People we need partners, collaborators, supporters and advocates across all levels of government, with industry and stakeholders.  Building effective partnerships happens with time spent together, meeting both formally and informally, in different settings, with different combinations of parties to bring variety to each exchange. Having those kinds of opportunities was a major part of the work we did at Roundup.

One of the messages that we carried with us, is the commitment that we have at all levels, to evolve how development is done in partnership with Indigenous people.

For NWT leaders, the depth, and strength, of what we have in common is never more obvious than when we are working together, particularly outside of the NWT as advocates for the North. I was pleased to participate in multiple events alongside Indigenous governments from the NWT. The mineral resource industry and, in particular, those who invest in it, is changing rapidly. The recognition of environmental, social and governance factors as well as Indigenous relationships is the way of the future for resource development. As I have said before, this is the way that we have been doing business in the NWT for a long time; and together with NWT Indigenous delegates, the GNWT was able to showcase the partnered and sustainable approach to resource development that exists here. Our collective presence at a forum like Roundup and strong advocacy for the NWT made each of our messages stronger.  

This year was a particularly strong showing of our movement towards a more whole-of-government approach to governance. Our delegation included at different times Premier Cochrane, Minister Archie and also officials from Infrastructure, Lands, Environment and Natural Resources, Finance and Industry, Tourism and Investment.  We were also supported by the presence of Ms. Weyallan-Armstrong, the Member from Monfwi, as a representative of Standing Committee on Economic Development and Oversight. Together we met face-to-face with operators and company executives interested or already working in our territory as well as those who are new to the opportunities in the NWT. 

The GNWT supported three networking events to promote the territory to investment audiences and to encourage dialogue about the NWT’s attractiveness for investment.  

First, the department of Industry, Tourism and Investment held an Environment, Social, Governance - Indigenous themed event that welcomed Indigenous governments from across the NWT, mineral resource companies and investors. We were especially pleased to have the Tłı̨chǫ drummers start this event off in a good way.  

Next, led by Premier Cochrane, we celebrated last year’s creation of an NWT Chapter of Women in Mining and the election of Tłı̨chǫ-born, Gaeleen MacPherson as its President.  Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief Lafferty spoke, recognizing the transformational accomplishments of NWT women, not just in mining, but throughout the Tłı̨chǫ.

Finally, supported by officials with the Department of Infrastructure, Minister Archie hosted an event promoting the territory’s green energy potential while reiterating the importance of federal investment in three key infrastructure projects: the Taltson Hydro Expansion, Slave Geological Province Corridor and Mackenzie Valley Highway.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the NWT’s mining community and those Indigenous governments and industry stakeholders that took time out of their own objectives at the Association for Mineral Exploration Roundup to support us in advancing ours.

We are at a pivotal time for the NWT.  Resource availability, technology, market demand and global interest are coming together to create extraordinary opportunities for investment. As part of our marketing efforts, the NWT Geological Survey released a new compilation of Critical Mineral Showings highlighting the distribution of critical mineral finds in the NWT. On the conference’s exhibition floor, we promoted our region and its geology to explorers and responded to the growing interest that we are seeing in the NWT’s known and potential deposits of rare earths and other critical minerals. 

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories is positioned to play a key part in advancing the world’s new technology-based green economy.  More importantly, we have the opportunity as governments, and industry together, to contribute to economic growth and prosperity in NWT communities where it is desperately needed.

Thank you Mr. Speaker