(BEHCHOKǪ̀) July 15, 2020 – Mr. Jackson Lafferty, MLA for Monfwi, condemns the Premier of the Northwest Territories’ refusal to support Tłı̨chǫ Chiefs.
“I stand with the leaders of my people in condemning the actions of the Government of the Northwest Territories in denying the request of the Tłı̨chǫ Chiefs Executive Council to cancel the public tender for the Rae Access Road reconstruction project,” says Jackson Lafferty.
“This project represents millions of dollars of economic opportunity for Tłı̨chǫ communities and jobs for Tłı̨chǫ citizens. At a time when our economy is fragile and many have lost jobs, our people need every dollar of government support to pull ahead of this unprecedented crisis.”
“I have worked tirelessly in my capacity as MLA for Monfwi to bring to light the concerns of my constituents and the Tłı̨chǫ chiefs to the attention of Premier Caroline Cochrane and Infrastructure Minister Katrina Nokleby. Despite meeting with our leaders on three separate occasions the Premier continues to ignore these serious concerns without offering any meaningful solutions or compromise.”
When the final Tłı̨chǫ Agreement was signed in 2003, Chapter 26 specifically provided for economic benefits to the Tłı̨chǫ people, arising from Government of the Northwest Territories contracts and employment. It also imposed requirements on the government to consult when changes are made to procurement policies, and when contracts on Tłı̨chǫ land are not put out for tender. “My people have waited patiently for the Government of the Northwest Territories to make good on its promises to better ensure the participation of our people in the Territorial economy and still we must fight for little more than the crumbs from the GNWT’s table,” says Lafferty.
“We are tired of waiting for the government to act. We are tired of hearing this Premier and past Premiers speak of the importance of Indigenous partners while turning a blind eye and deaf ear to our concerns. Premier Cochrane’s continued refusal to hear the voices of our leaders is a betrayal of the Tłı̨chǫ agreement and of the rights of all Indigenous Peoples in Canada.”
The Monfwi MLA is calling on all Indigenous Peoples and Nations in the Northwest Territories and beyond to join the Tłı̨chǫ Chiefs in denouncing the actions of Premier Cochrane and Minister Nokleby and supporting their call to cancel the public tender until it conforms to the letter of the Tłı̨chǫ agreement and meets the needs of the Tłı̨chǫ government.
“We cannot continue to allow colonial institutions like the GNWT to pay lip service to our treaties while they pick winners and losers with public resources in an effort to divide and conquer Indigenous Peoples who have called our lands home since time immemorial,” Jackson Lafferty concludes.