Citing her years of experience as a social worker and knowledge of communities across the region, Delphine Pierrot has put her name forward for Sahtu MLA.
If elected, Pierrot says wants to “put residents first” and focus on climate change, addressing concerns about overcrowding in homes, improving the Education Act and working on community wellness.
Speaking about the summer’s barge shipment delays, she said: “Climate change is here now. It’s impacting us, and this talk that we’re going to have another dry summer next year? That might mean the barge supply, our resupply shipments may not come again.”
She says her experience working in Délı̨nę, Tulita, and Norman Wells, and living in Fort Good Hope, has made her aware of the challenges across the region’s communities.
This interview was recorded on November 2, 2023. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Aastha Sethi:Tell us about your work.
Delphine Pierrot: I have been a social worker and also a probation officer in the region for many years. I am a former chief of Fort Good Hope and have been a mayor of our community. I’ve sat on the Sahtu District Education Authority for my community. I also currently sit on the Northwest Territories Status of Women Council, representing the Sahtu.
Why did you decide to put your name forward this year?
I want to put the residents first in the Sahtu region. I feel like I’m confident enough to strongly represent the residents of Sahtu, and to be a strong advocate on issues that are of concern in our Sahtu region.
What are some of those issues you’re speaking of?
For one, we’re faced with climate change now with the wildfires. This year in the Sahtu region, it’s been the lowest water levels on record for the Mackenzie River, and that’s impacted the region. Our annual barge supplies and marine transport – we were not able to receive all of our supplies. As you know, the Sahtu region is the most isolated region in the NWT, so that has an impact on businesses in the Sahtu region. It impacts everything. The high cost of living is going to go up because of it, because all our supplies have to be flown in now.
How would you advocate for accelerating the construction of the Mackenzie Valley Highway?
There is a great need for the Mackenzie Valley Highway and I would be in support of that. It would be a priority for me because like I said, it’s isolated here, there’s a high cost of living. I would advocate with the leaders. I would work with the leaders closely on that project.
On a federal level, what do you think can be done differently to push for the highway’s construction?
Well, we would definitely lobby the federal government for more funds in that area to get the highway built right away. I see on the news, it says that the project is on hold. I would work with the leaders in that area and advocate hard that we can’t wait. Climate change is here now. It’s impacting us and this talk that we’re going to have another dry summer next year, that might mean the barge supply, our resupply shipments may not come again.
What are your thoughts on housing in the region?
Well, now I’m campaigning and I am visiting communities, and I am hearing a lot of concerns about lack of housing, long waitlists for public housing units. I’ve been to Colville Lake, Norman Wells and I’m in Délı̨nę now. I am just listening to some of the concerns about the lack of housing – and overcrowding in homes is an issue too.
From your experience, how would you say the quality and access to education can be improved?
I would look at the Education Act and see where we can improve in our education, and how we deliver it. Also, the need for graduates. We’ve seen a lot of graduates are graduating, but then they still have to go back upgrading just to qualify for a course in a university.
How do you think those numbers can be brought up?
I would work with the regional Sahtu District Education Authority and talk with them about how we can do that together.
What other issues are you focusing on?
I am focusing on community wellness. There’s a need for continuation of on-the-land healing and trauma aftercare. There are concerns about lack of resources for addictions and people that are struggling with addiction. Also healthcare, there are a lot of concerns around medical travel and infrastructure for our current health centres in the Sahtu region.
If people want to join a treatment program, they have to leave NWT and go south. That’s not always the best choice for people that want to stay home and access counselling services or a treatment program. Residents would prefer to stay in the Sahtu and access resources here. There’s requests about the possibility of a regional treatment centre or a territorial treatment centre. So I would work closely with the leaders and talk about that more.
Lastly, tell us more about what you’d hope to achieve as an MLA.
I am from Fort Good Hope and I lived there all my life. I was born and raised in Fort Good Hope, out on the land and in the community. I am passionate about helping community residents and regional residents. I’ve been helping people in the community and in the region as well. Through my job, I’ve worked in Délı̨nę, Tulita, and Norman Wells. I raised my family for 12 years in Norman Wells. I’m familiar with all the five Sahtu communities. My family is originally from Colville Lake.
If elected, I will work hard. My leadership, knowledge and my experience of the governance system will help me be your voice. I live in Fort Good Hope so the concerns are well-known to me. I’m fluent in understanding my language, and I work on speaking my language all the time. I’m committed to being there for people and listening to every person in the Sahtu region when they come to me. I’ll work hard for everyone.
Asked to declare any outstanding lawsuits, debts or other issues that might form a conflict if elected, the candidate said there were none.