If I woke up one morning as premier, to play Mr. (Michael) Miltenberger’s Election 2023 game (‘If I were premier,’ Yellowknifer, Feb. 24), I would ask who put the gummy in my caribou stew? Then I would go for it.

First, we would have a ceremonial burning of the GNWT budget spending pie chart. That spending pie has changed little over 20 years, if not 60 years, except the finance department has jumped in staff for whatever reason.

With MLAs in a room, we would design a budget based on the needs of the people.

First priority is meeting payroll. If our staff is not happy, engaged and secure in their jobs, we’ll not get anything done.

Next, we look at what bills we have to pay, and what bills we shouldn’t be paying.

There will be three main priorities of the next government — healing, housing and education.

Education is most important but that can’t happen without healing. Healing is not just about doctors, nurses and operating rooms, it’s also acknowledging, identifying, and treating trauma brought on by the loss of land, culture and control of lives. Healing is best understood by people who have experienced the trauma, namely half the population of the NWT: Dene, Metis, Inuvialuit. They must be our consultants and staff.

Healing can’t happen without proper housing. There are 2,900 public housing units (345 in Yellowknife) the majority of which are in a state of disrepair. There are 900 people on the waiting list, and 487 who owe back rent that can’t get on the waiting list. That’s over 5,000 families in housing distress, mainly people outside of Yellowknife. We must focus on fixing the crisis just as we did during the covid pandemic.

On education, who can judge how well our schools are working when the two essential elements – healing and housing – required for stable, self-sufficient families are lacking?

But we must get Aurora College back on track for the communities, focussing on upgrading, college-level courses and trades training, producing homegrown teachers, social workers and nurses as we did in the ‘70s, a Northern Board and no interference from the GNWT.

We will withdraw from lawsuits against our own people, like the one trying to prevent the Inuvialuit from taking responsibility for their children after the GNWT failed so miserably. We will get behind the proposed Saliqmiut: Tuktuuyaqtuuq Centre for Arts and Culture in Tuktoyaktok to make it a world-class cultural repository, substituting for a world-class natural gas field shut down by the federal government to enhance its standing on the climate change stage.

We could engage Mr. Miltenberger to help us restructure the Northern Power Corporation, putting the people and climate change first and the corporation second.

In the spirit of Woman Warrior Cece McCauley, we will unceasingly pester the feds to continue the Canadian practice of developing economies with roads, like one that should be connecting the Sahtu, South and North Slave to Ft. Macpherson, Inuvik and the Beaufort Delta

Finally, we would settle outstanding land claims to the satisfaction of the original landowners and re-examine past settlements for improvements. Their success makes NWT successful.

For those wondering about the economic development file, take note: Healing, housing, education and settled land claims will spur building.

New salaried positions in small communities will provide much-needed economic stimulus. A young trained workforce of 6,000 youth between the ages of 15 and 24 is worth investing in.

We would all get busy building a new NWT2023.

Bruce Valpy is a longtime Northerner living in Yellowknife and former publisher/CEO of NNSL Media. He has declared his candidacy to run for MLA in the Oct. 3, 2023 territorial election. His platform can be found at NWT2023.ca.

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  1. I suggest to close the NWT to all mining, just have the bare minimum in infrastructure spending, make all people move away from the NWT, that would solve the housing issue and the NWT would never have to worry about climate change goals or housing again. I started it and moved my Family and one of my Worker with his Family out of the NWT, makes two more units available for the housing issue. (Total of 10 people)
    The NWT has most of its priorities all backwards and sometimes wondering if the people in power have the professional capability to make some of these decisions. It seems like a clownshow, beside clowns are good in what they are doing.
    I suggest for everyone to get out of this overpriced, underdelivering, failed (yes, compared to both neighbouring territories, the NWT has failed in pretty much every aspect)
    Just keep begging for some more taxmoney from ottawa.
    I am glad I am out of there and not looking back.