Tłı̨chǫ Government demands GNWT cancel Rae road Public Tender
Behchokǫ̀, NT (July 13, 2020) - The Tłı̨chǫ Chiefs Executive Council met for the third time with the Premier of the Northwest Territories on Friday to demand the cancellation of the public tender for the Rae Access Road reconstruction project.
Grand Chief Mackenzie stated “There are few opportunities in our region for economic development, especially with the restrictive COVID rules and the GNWT has shown its complete disrespect, not just for Tłı̨chǫ people, but for our treaty – the Tłı̨chǫ Agreement. Premier Cochrane and Minister Nokleby have shown that their words of change and new ways of working with Indigenous Governments is nothing but talk.”
Tłı̨chǫ Government, along with the MLA for Monfwi officially requested a direct negotiated contract for the Rae Access Road reconstruction project. The GNWT publicly tendered the contract without even bothering to respond to our request first. The tender provides for no Tłı̨chǫ employment and no Tłı̨chǫ subcontracting commitments. It is flawed and ignores the pressing needs of our community to support itself. It totally ignores the Tłı̨chǫ community of Behchokǫ̀. Express provisions in the tender documents appear to allow GNWT to reject all bids and to cancel the tender but GNWT chooses not to do so.
The road to Behchokǫ̀ is wholly within our community boundary. We are the ones that use it and rely on it every day. The contract to rebuild it is the biggest economic opportunity in Behchokǫ̀. It is our chance to provide good jobs for our local citizens, so that they can work in their own community. Giving the contract to an outsider means that GNWT is denying our people, who have been hurt by the pandemic, the best opportunity to rebuild their economic lives. The construction contract is to last for two years, and we will have to sit back and watch as outsiders take our jobs and our livelihood.
Chief Clifford Daniels stated “ We do not want companies from outside our region that do not respect our people and have a poor track record of hiring Tłı̨chǫ workers in our community when we have companies and citizens that can carry out this work. In a time of COVID concerns the GNWT selects a company that will primarily bring people in from everywhere else, when Tłı̨chǫ companies and people can do the work without endangering our community.”
Chief David Wedawin stated “The Tłı̨chǫ Agreement includes many commitments from the GNWT to help Tłı̨chǫ people become self-sufficient – but the actions of the GNWT are working against us. The GNWT has failed to uphold its treaty commitments, and may well be in breach of the economic development chapter of our Agreement.”
Grand Chief states: “Enough is enough – the GNWT’s policies, systems and decisions are systemically discriminating against us - keeping us from seizing the limited opportunities in our backyards. If this government will not change the unacceptable status quo and failing GNWT policies that are increasing the gap between our communities and citizens and the rest of Canada – perhaps it is time for a Territorial leadership change.”
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