NWT Election 2019: Nadine Delorme’s Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh interview
Nadine Delorme hopes to become Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh’s next MLA.
First among her priorities is to make Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh the first Indigenous state in Canada. Next, she wants to “un-municipalize” the communities of Dettah, Ndilo, Fort Resolution, and Łutselk’e.
She believes issues like housing and child welfare, which motivated her to run, will be solved if Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh becomes its own confederacy.
Delorme is also advocating for no-kill legislation to protect animals in the NWT, for more emphasis to be placed on university education, and for the NWT to invest in sustainable energy.
Below, find a transcript of the full interview.
Listen to the full interview by downloading or streaming Cabin Radio’s Lunchtime News podcast. Delorme’s interview air date is September 18.
More information: Nadine Delorme’s Facebook page
More interviews: Browse our 2019 NWT election coverage so far
This interview was recorded on September 8, 2019. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Sarah Pruys: Why did you decide to run for MLA?
Nadine Delorme: I am a Sixties Scoop survivor who came home. I’m evidence of the disparity of policy in Canada. I’m on an epic journey, my Odyssey, my quest for Troy. My story is filled with good and bad things while searching for my Indigeneity as a Dene sovereign, with adventures that overcome great adversity and heartbreak in this quest to find me and my family.
I have discovered a purposeful legacy of human compassion in my beloved North to help all my relations. I shall rock the establishment to the very core for positive transformation so that the North can develop and grow into a distinct identity within the fabric of Canadian history and, contemporarily, in a culturally sensitive way, equalize the forum. I shall collaborate, heal, and activate, to help Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh and the NWT navigate the inevitable tides of change. Together, we will make it.
Nadine, what’s on your platform?
I plan on creating Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh into the first Indigenous state.
Can you expand on what that means?
Through self-governance, accelerating and enhancing the land claims process. The GNWT doesn’t really need to have too much involvement in that process. Most Indigenous groups have a direct relationship with the federal government. We are here just as a support.
So what’s your vision for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh at the end of a four year term? What would you like it to look like?
Its own confederacy. The first Indigenous state in Canada.
Would you still be an MLA for the territorial government?
Yes, but I will help in the creation of the first Indigenous state by entrenching the treaties, by entrenching the calls to action from the Murdered and Missing Indigenous [Women], the calls to action in Truth and Reconciliation, the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples – which should have been done in the last few decades and hasn’t been done yet. And until the identity of NWT, in collaboration with Indigenous people, is defined, we will still go in the circle and cycle of non-development and non-growth in NWT.
You said most of this work would be done with the federal government. As a territorial MLA, what would you be doing when you’re working with the other MLAs at the territorial level?
I would be acting as an ambassador or liaison.
How does this work moving forward? Like what would be the first steps?
Entrenching Undrip [the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People].
As far as becoming the first Indigenous state though? That sounds like a big task, especially if you’re paving the way. Can you expand on how that process works?
It’s up to the Indigenous how that process works.
And this is something that you’ve heard that people in your constituency want?
Yes. The second would be to un-municipalize Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh.
Can you expand on what that means?
Unincorporate the municipalities, and transfer power and authority over the services.
When you announced that you were running you listed housing issues, child welfare, and concerns with dogs as parts of your platform as well. Are those still key parts of your platform?
Yes, because everything to do with Indigenous governance has to do with those issues.
What would you like to do in terms of housing to make that situation better for your constituents?
Through the unmunicipalization of Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh and unincorporating, issues can be dealt with in a much more positive way. And then moving forward through federal jurisdiction these matters will be taken care of through the governance of land claims and treaties, and Métis agreements and Inuit agreements.
And child welfare?
Child welfare: the Human Rights Tribunal found in favour of Indigenous families who were separated, and I plan on entrenching calls to action from the Murdered and Missing Indigenous report 12.9 concerning the child welfare advocate in each jurisdiction, entrenching Jordan’s Principle, and entrenching Bill C-93.
For people who aren’t quite so familiar with this legislation, can you break that down in simple terms what that means for them?
Bill C-93 was an act passed by the federal government for the protection of Indigenous families and children, to no longer be separated. And that is what happened to me and my family and five generations of my family. And it’s been my mission since 1994 to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else ever again. Canada has finally addressed this issue of cultural genocide against Sixties Scoop survivors and families.
How do you plan to address the issue of dogs?
So the environment that I was raised in, in Toronto, family members of mine had always been advocates for animal rights. And in Ontario the restrictions are pretty strict about animal ownership and how we’re treating animals. And from what I’ve seen, it’s been wonderful how people treat the animals but it just comes down to, during very hard times, especially in deep winter, there isn’t the finance to help people to feed their animals. Sometimes it ends up that the dogs become strays. And that’s how I ended up with my dogs, it was just a difficult situation.
I want to be able to make sure there is support in communities, and that there is a no-kill act passed concerning dogs and cats and other animals in the NWT, and inject vast amounts of support into the agencies that are in the NWT that do give communities wonderful support when they can.
In addition to these topics, is there anything else in your platform that you’d like to highlight?
What I would like is for people to start sharing their stories with one another. There seems to be a reluctance for people to understand what happened to me and what happened to residential school survivors, day school survivors, medical removals, and now the millennial scoop. And then we also need to know about Canadians and their backgrounds and what their visions and goals are in collaboration with Indigenous people.
As an MLA, you’re working not only for your constituents in your own riding, but for the whole territory. How would having Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh become the first Indigenous state better improve the lives of all people in NWT?
Truth and reconciliation will help balance policies and gain trust for proper and good investment into the NWT economy.
There is so much dissension and hurt and trauma between two groups in Canada. Until that is solved, there cannot be good investment. Until there is certainty of land claims, and certainty of what our rights actually are, no economy can move forward. Because it’s not trustworthy if those issues are not dealt with. It goes from high-risk investment to moderate to little-risk because it is defined.
Speaking about the economy, what do you think the NWT should be doing?
Sustainable energy, because our environment? We’re in a climate crisis.
Solar panels, wind power, tidal power: there are whole huge industries with long-term lifetime jobs doing this, and I don’t know why it hasn’t been implemented in Canada yet. I know there are a lot of communities across Canada that have done this. And there are a few in NWT that have, and it should just be everywhere, at this particular point in time, because our environment deserves that.
Do you think the Taltson hydro expansion project should move forward?
As a Rocher River descendant, I need to have way more data to be able to comment on that. But all I know is that it’s smack dab in the middle of my backyard.
On healthcare, what should the NWT be doing?
Utilizing a more holistic framework, like the medicine wheel or social determinants model, or the problem-solving tree mechanism, will end up balancing what’s happening in healthcare. I’ve been detrimentally affected by the healthcare here in the NWT, as well as by the education.
So then education just very briefly, what needs to be improved there?
When I went for the first application for some bursary here in the NWT, I was told by the intake workers that university is not the priority, only training is the priority. So I’m asking people that question, why is university not a priority? Because it’s imperative.
And infrastructure? It’s been a really big topic lately. The government’s throwing a lot of money toward it. What do you think about that?
In 2016, my husband and I went on an across-the-country trip. As we went through each province and territory, I made the jokes and I said, “I’m going to write to the Minister of Transportation.” If we want to encourage tourism in the NWT then you need to have roads, and buildings, and structures, and institutions that are safe for tourists and safe for the residents. It seems to me the roads were built for residents but industry is using it, which means the road mechanism wasn’t created for that impact. So we need to address the impact of industry using our infrastructure for transportation.
And just finally, why would you say that you’re the best candidate for the job?
Wouldn’t that be vain to say I’m the best candidate for the job? It’s not a matter of what’s the best candidate, it’s what’s best for NWT and Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh
So what’s your pitch? When you’re going around canvassing, what are you telling people? Why are you saying, ‘You should vote for me’?
To equalize the forum. The disparity of policies, the disparity of diversity in the Legislative Assembly, has left many people on the fringes of society. And it shouldn’t be like that at all.