This interview was recorded on October 24, 2023. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Sarah Pruys: Why did you decide to run this year?
Nadine Delorme: There’s just one too many discrepancies happening with the government with all the programs: housing, health services, and protective services. Accessibility is a serious, serious issue in my community. I know I’ve heard of others in other communities having some accessibility issues and I just want to do something about it.
In the email announcing your candidacy, you talked about the importance of incorporating Indigenous knowledge into legislation and into how things are done in the NWT.
Yes. I would like to share my Sixties Scoop story just a little bit because that’s part of my priorities. As some people know by now, I’m a Sixties Scoop survivor, and I came home in 2014 because Ontario legislation changed on adoption and adoption disclosure and opened some access to my files, and I was able to find out where I was from and some specific things about my mother. So I went on a lifelong mission ever since to see what happened. Why did my mother end up in Toronto, all the way from here? Why did she never really come back?
And I’ve discovered a lot of things that Canada has done toward Indigenous peoples that created the situation, and I just want to be able to do something about it in a positive way. Too many people are falling through the cracks. I know when the implementation of the Sixties Scoop compensation happened and peoples were rejected, there were a lot of suicides at the time. We need to do something more preventative for Indigenous peoples and people in general in the NWT that protects them from that ever happening to them; what happened to me and 22,000 other survivors out there.
In your initial statement, you said you’ve created some solutions based on the tenets of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations.
One of the solutions is open dialogue. It’s one of the things I’ve noticed about this particular ledge [Legislative Assembly]: there was a real breakdown in communications between communities, and it became more specific to Indigenous communities at one point. So it just seemed to me that there needs to be something done. It’s become very convoluted and very confusing as to what’s actually happening in the ledge.
I am grateful to the media for letting us know what’s actually going on, here in this community, because sometimes there wasn’t any accessibility to information during all the natural disasters and the pandemic. When they were changing laws in the ledge, you kind-of found out after the fact, so I want to review exactly what’s going on. And one of the solutions is judicial review.
You say there not only needs to be better communication among leaders, both within the Legislative Assembly and outside, but also better communication with the public. How do you think the Legislative Assembly, or you as an MLA, could do a better job of communicating with the public?
Part of my platform is transparency. I would promise Tu Nedhé and the NWT that they would know every move I’m making. People kind-of already know because I’m pretty public, and I disclose – I believe in absolute disclosure – and that’s what I would like to be able to offer Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh and the NWT, is transparency.
You talked a lot about accessibility. To start, if you could explain what accessibility means to you, because I know that can be a bit of a broad term – depending on how you’re talking about it, it could mean different things.
Accessibility to me means being able to access programs, being able to get into buildings, access to information, access to rights and inherent rights. There isn’t any accessibility for me at this time, and I’m noticing a pattern happening for other people.
Under that Truth and Reconciliation lens, what do you propose to make things more accessible across the board?
I probably would review what the application processes for programs and service deliverables are, and I would start to mandate deadlines. I remember when I volunteered for the federal government when I was a teenager, doing mail, there were limits that each of the mail recipients had to respond – and if you didn’t, then you got in trouble. So that’s something that falls under the accountability of elected leaders, is that we need to be able to have that.
Housing is such a big issue, not just in the NWT but everywhere. It’s tough to ask what your solutions are to that problem because it can’t necessarily be solved by one person. But do you have any ideas in particular for how you could help support or improve housing in Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh?
I believe in finding consensus that housing is the most major issue at this time – and infrastructure in the NWT – and it will be a matter of saying: is this what we want? We want to make sure people are housed and make sure they’re safe. We want new Canadians to have accessibility to good housing and all the services that can be available, but it’s been very hard to access them.
In terms of infrastructure that you just mentioned, what big infrastructure projects would you like to see either in your district or in the NWT? What would you advocate for?
Roads and Firesmart communities. I believe, to an extent, Tu Nedhé is pretty good at Firesmarting, but I know there are other things. My brother-in-law and official agent [Patrick Simon] is quite an expert in this area and has given me a whole list of things and suggestions. He has been involved in emergency planning when he was mayor and he’s an expert in environmental regulations.
And the way I look at it, a wonderful fire break that serves as a moat for floods at the same time would be great. Whether that’s actually feasible is another thing to be explored later. I have quite a vision for infrastructure for Tu Nedhé and the NWT.
You mentioned roads – any roads in particular in Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh or is that for the broader NWT?
I haven’t been to Łútsël K’é yet to know if there’s issues concerning roads in the community or not. I hope that people from Łútsël K’é would reach out to me about that particular thing, but I know for my community we need new roads.
So not necessarily new roads connecting communities but just updating infrastructure within communities?
Yes, but I know there’s been talk of a winter road to Rocher River that I’m kind-of interested in exploring also.
You mentioned healthcare. Could you expand on the current issues and what the solutions to some of those issues would be?
Myself, my husband and my brother-in-law have experienced a lot of neglect and abuse by the local health establishment. I’ve had to go through a lot of processes, through the Ombud’s office and ECE client representation, and the mental health unit through ECE, in order to even get an appointment in the health centre.
All I know is obviously health needs help. And whether it’s a racism and discrimination issue or just a culture shock issue when we have visiting professionals, if something gets lost in translation, access to care gets very limited.
I’m very clumsy. People who’ve known me my whole life know I’m just very clumsy. I trip a lot, I bump into things a lot. And I went in once after a fall and they asked me if I was drunk, and I don’t drink. It’s one of the rules I have for myself. And to have that just thrown at me – whether I drank or not, and I didn’t – I still need you to give me care. I don’t need you to judge me and profile me into not giving me the care that I’m asking for.
Then it got to the situation where the nurses would call the RCMP and most of my appointments have been policed. And I do have a video out there of one of those incidents.
The solution to it is communication. We really need to communicate with health professionals that our communities really need care, and we don’t want to be treated like this any more.
For my last question, if you could talk about some of your experiences or qualifications – the things that make you think you’re the right person for the job.
My experiential education is I’ve travelled the world searching for clues and situations that may be applicable to me if I ever found my family. This was when I was younger.
I’ve self-educated and I’m attending Athabasca University for humanities and sociology. I haven’t finished my degree yet, but I’m halfway there.
I’ve sat on many national boards addressing child welfare, the Sixties Scoop, and fostering truth and reconciliation. And I’ve sat on boards up here in the North. I’ve worked for several Indigenous organizations and the municipality at one point as a financial troubleshooter.
Asked to declare any outstanding lawsuits, major debts or other issues that might form a conflict if elected, the candidate said there were none.