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Glen Abernethy: On-the-Land Collaborative Fund

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to provide Members with an update on an exciting new initiative to support On The Land programming in the Northwest Territories.

 

Mr. Speaker, we know that there is huge demand for On The Land programs in the NWT. They are important components of community wellness, healing, healthy living, and environmental stewardship and protection. They support the traditional economy, sustainable livelihoods, and building capacity in our communities.

 

The benefits of On The Land activities are well documented, and residents have told us that these programs are a priority for them, most recently through the Minister’s Forum on Addictions and Community Wellness established by the 17th Assembly.

 

Government alone cannot meet this demand. While there are many sources of funding for On The Land programs, it can be challenging for organizers to deal with multiple funders for a single project, and to navigate different application, administrative, and reporting requirements.

 

In 2014, the departments of Health and Social Services and Environment and Natural Resources, in partnership with Tides Canada, co-hosted a workshop which brought together funders, program partners, and community representatives involved in supporting and delivering On The Land programs from across the territory.  

 

The outcomes of that workshop led to the creation of the NWT On The Land Funding Collaborative, which was developed to maximize the amount of funding and other resources available for On The Land initiatives in the NWT, and to make them easier to access.

 

The Fund brings together government, charitable and other partners so we can combine our efforts and pool our resources, including funding, expertise, tools and equipment, and other supports. In addition to the Government of the Northwest Territories departments and Tides Canada, current partners include Dominion Diamond Corporation, the NWT Recreation and Parks Association, TNC Canada, the PEW Indigenous Leadership Initiative, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and community advisors from across the NWT.

 

The first call for applications to the fund was issued in late 2015, and applications closed on January 31 of this year.  The response to this first call for applications was overwhelming and very positive. More than 200 applications were received from across the territory, with requests for funding totaling almost nine million dollars. The collaborative partners met in early February to review each application and select funding recipients. This was a significant undertaking, and Minister Schumann and I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the dedication of the funding partners and community advisors to making the process a success.

 

The huge response to the call for applications to the Collaborative Fund is further evidence that On The Land programs are a priority for NWT residents. The collaborative approach provides us with an opportunity to leverage new funding from external partners while also putting our own resources to more efficient and effective use.  Beyond funding and other resources, the Fund is designed to provide practical support to program organizers. The community advisors provide guidance to applicants throughout the application process and play an essential role in the review by providing recommendations and regional insight to the funders.

 

Through this first review cycle, collaborative partners allocated almost $400,000 to 27 exceptional projects, with recipients from every region of the territory. Projects range from small local projects, such as the new Nature Club in Hay River and the Women Coming Together initiative in Lutselk’e, to large regional and territorial programs such as the Northern Youth Leadership Society and the Foster Family Coalition’s Camp Connections.  In addition to direct funding of these projects, collaborative partners were able to use their networks and expertise to connect many other applicants with additional sources of support and referral. On behalf of all of the collaborative partners, including my colleague Minister Schumann, the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, I want to congratulate all of the recipients and thank all of the applicants for their leadership and dedication to On The Land activities in their communities.

 

Mr. Speaker, Members agreed that this government was going to change the way it did business, and we are already delivering on this shared priority. This is a brand new way of doing business for our Government. It’s a demonstration of our commitment to finding new approaches to address shared priorities, and to working in meaningful partnership to improve the lives of NWT residents.

 

Funding collaboratives are relatively new to Canada but have seen great success in other parts of the world.  We are proud to be part of this innovative new approach. The early results of the NWT On The Land Funding Collaborative are promising, and we expect to welcome even more funders and partners to the team in the future.

 

Minister Schumann and I look forward to keeping Members updated on progress as the Collaborative moves forward.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.