The MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh has lashed out at the territory’s minister of Health and Social Services for a “condescending, dismissive and belittling” internal email, saying he will support a motion to have her removed from her portfolio “at the earliest opportunity.”

The comments were part of an internal Legislative Assembly email chain that was obtained by NNSL Media.

The dispute arose out of comments MLA Richard Edjericon made to NNSL Media as part of an April 27 report on the state of health services in Fort Resolution. In that report, Edjericon was quoted as saying local health workers “don’t take their job seriously,” and that residents of small communities don’t have access to the same quality of service as the larger communities.

Green responded on April 29 with an email to Edjericon, whom she refers to in the message as “Rick.”

“I know you are a new MLA learning the ropes,” Green wrote. “Your trip to Fort Resolution with an NNSL report [sic] for a public session on health concerns raises some red flags.”

She cricitized Edjericon for his comments about healthcare workers, who are not permitted to respond publicly. “I’m not sure if you considered the impact of your public remarks but I anticipate they are demoralizing and will make recruitment and retention of health care staff even more difficult in Fort Resolution.”

“I hope you have found this information useful and enourage you to bring your constituents’ concerns directly to me in the future,” the email concludes.

Edjericon responded with his own email on May 12, copying every member of the Legislative Assembly.

“As a nonindigenous, medium tenure Cabinet Minister writing to a newly elected, indigenous ordinary member, the email in both tone and content is entirely inappropriate,” he wrote.

“Both indigenous and nonindigenous residents of the Northwest Territories know well that the history of Canada is filled with communications such as that that you provided to me. As both a cabinet minister and a nonindigenous resident of the Northwest Territories you must be careful how you communicate to your indigenous colleagues.”

He demanded a “full and formal apology” from Green “reflecting your consideration of the communication and your promise to reconsider how you communicate with your peers, particularly those of an indigenous background.”

“I will not be made silent because staff feels bad that a voice is being given to people who feel the service levels are not up to the national standard. In the experience of the people affected this is a truth — to ignore that truth and marginalize the indigenous community because it is a difficult or inconvenient conversation is an antiquated relic of colonialism.”

“I have lost confidence in your ability to serve as Northwest Territories Minister of Health and Social Services and will support a motion to have you removed from the Health and Social Services Portfolio at the earliest opportunity.”

On May 13, Green then responded with her own message, saying “I regret that you interpreted my earlier email as condescending or disrespectful. That was never my intent. I agree with you that our interactions as Ministers and MLAs should be respectful.

“Both as a non-Indigenous resident and the Minister of Health and Social Services, I am committed to living and leading in a way that deepens cultural respect and safety and responds to the historical impacts of colonization and discrimination in all forms. Living to these principles requires listening, dialogue and being open to the experiences of my Indigenous colleagues and the people we serve.

“Having a strong, respectful relationship with colleagues is important to me as an MLA and as a Minister. I welcome the opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss your concerns about the tone and appropriateness of my correspondence to you. I would recommend that we invite the Premier and the principal secretary to join the discussion.”

Edjericon told NNSL Media he was “disappointed” the messages leaked.

He doubled down on his accusations that Green exploited a racial power imbalance: “The thing that comes to mind when I read that email, for me, was growing up in a small community in Fort Resolution, all we heard growing up was ‘Be quiet, stand in the corner, and don’t say anything.’

“Those days are done; That’s what I thought, but it’s alive and well, as you could see.”

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  1. Anonymous eh….hiding not identifying yourself is pretty pathetic. Stand behind your words…no need to hide behind your ignorance…health is important and everywhere there must be consistency. If there is consistency there will be good Healthcare in small communities. I believe there is room for improvement…if there are issues deal with them so our system doest fail…health is universal in Canada.

  2. We elect 19 representatives from our communities to go to yellowknife to sit in a room to make life easier for the people of the NWT. They do this by revamping and drafting new legislation and policies, which is the mandate the people have given them.
    Unfortunately, many Mlas are seduced by the lure of political power and prestige and surround themselves with smarter idiots who tell them “they can’t”….. We do not elect them for what they can’t do but rather what they can do to improve the lives of elders and youth.
    I find it disheartening that the minister has turned a blind eye and ear to the draconian colonialistic operations and policies unto which she refuses to heed the traditional teachings of indigenous peoples of the nwt.
    We have a dysfunctional functioning group of ministers steering this governing council in a race to the bowels of a beauracratic Sh*t show.

  3. You want to know why the health care system in NWT is so bad ? It’s becuase of people like Richard who expect respect and services, but give nothing in return to non- indigenous residents. People leave their families and life behind to come to the North to help.. so the North isn’t decades behind. For a second, imagine if people from the South stopped coming here, doctors and specialists stopped coming here becuase of the way non indigenous people are treated here. Lets not pretend racism doesnt exist here, I have witnessed it first hand. How would the NWT feel if Southern provinces stopped taking Northeners. Wake up people, the divide is coming from within… you all are so lost in the past that you forget healing and moving on requires open minds… racist comments are made by everyone in Cabinet. This is just sad and pathetic that you all bring race into everything. It doesn’t matter who, what where and how. Everyone needs to be treated fairly.

  4. When people had a choice of clinics and physicians in larger communities, there was respect between both both parties. That is gone with the no choice system and aggressive or non-care for the disadvantaged and poor. People don’t look for preventive care anymore. I disagree Richard was stating racist comments. I think he was speaking of a lot of community issues that have been prevalent for years.

  5. Imagine telling a nurse who is probably far from their family, in a small community trying to fit in, that they are not taking their job seriously … Blanket statements about people in general are a problem in my opinion. Demoralizing is right!

  6. I have read the above a couple of times.
    Not a fan of Green, however, the racist comments are more evident in Richard’s comments.