The Government of the Northwest Territories will be sending three cabinet ministers and 18 staff to the AME Mineral Exploration Roundup 2020 Conference in Vancouver, Jan. 20 to 23.
The GNWT has typically sent a contingent of cabinet members, MLAs, and staff every year to the Vancouver conference as a way to bring awareness to national and international mineral explorers and leading professionals about the NWT’s mineral potential. The event draws more than 6,500 people involved in the industry every year, according to the conference website.
Last year the GNWT under then Premier Bob McLeod sent five cabinet members, two regular MLAs, and 21 staff members.
In 2018, regular MLAs Kieron Testart, Cory Vanthuyne, and Kevin O’Reilly all declined attending the trip.
Krystal Pidborochynski, senior communications adviser with the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs, stated that three cabinet ministers have been confirmed to attend the Roundup, including Premier Caroline Cochrane, Katrina Nokleby, minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment and Infrastructure, and Shane Thompson, minister of Environment and Natural Resources (as well as Lands, Youth Seniors, and the NWT Power Corporation).
“This year, staff from the Department of Infrastructure, Department of Industry and Investment, Department of Lands and Department of ENR will be attending,” stated Pidborochynski. “These individuals include staff attending as participants of the conference, staff who will be responsible for the working at the GNWT booths and some senior management who will be attending meetings, participating in FPTs, etc.”
Pidborochynski stated that ITI will have the largest contingent attending and that $210,000 has been budgeted for that department’s trip. NNSL Media did not receive a budget for the other departments attending.
“The other departments have a much smaller representation and would therefore have a smaller allocation in their budget for this event,” she stated. “Attendance at conferences and trade shows is a normal part of business for GNWT departments, which include it as a part of their budgets each year.
“Total costs for GNWT participation at Roundup will not be known until after all invoices have been received, etc., and this usually takes place in the weeks following Roundup.”
Another 15 to 20 Indigenous government representatives are expected “to attend at their own cost,” she added.
Mineral development strategy
Funding for Indigenous governments to attend has been budgeted through the Mineral Development Strategy, which will allow for two representatives from each of the Indigenous governments to attend the event. This will amount to an additional 14 individuals, Pidborochynski stated,
“Their attendance and participation helps build capacity and visibly signals their support for our presence at this event and their support for responsible resource development in the NWT,” she wrote.
Pidborochynski stated that the GNWT is covering the travel costs for four Indigenous drummers to ensure there is cultural representation at media events.
Jackie Jacobson, who is chair of the Standing Committee of Economic Development and Environment, said he had been invited by the minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment because the conference fits within the mandate of the committee.
“I chose not to attend because we are working on main estimates (leading into the budget) and I’m focused on doing my job for constituents,” he said.
“It was just bad timing. It would have been good to have gone. It is important because we want to make sure we have good public relations and that the government is open for business and looking for new partnerships and jobs for employment. That is what is needed.”