Anti-poverty on the table in Hay River

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The sixth-annual Anti-Poverty Roundtable was hosted last week by the GNWT in Hay River and on the Hay River Reserve.

Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy, front, along with Deh Cho MLA Michael Nadli, join a drum dance Nov. 7 on the Hay River Reserve at the close of a two-day Anti-Poverty Roundtable. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy, front, along with Deh Cho MLA Michael Nadli, join a drum dance Nov. 7 on the Hay River Reserve at the close of a two-day Anti-Poverty Roundtable.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The event, held on Nov. 6 and 7, brought together GNWT officials, non-governmental organizations, MLAs, band councils and Indigenous governments to report on progress under the Territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan.

About 90 people from all over the NWT participated in the discussion, which was held for the first time in Hay River.

Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy said each one of the Anti-Poverty Roundtables is slightly different.

“One of the primary focuses of this one is actually to revitalize the territorial action plan,” he said, noting that includes the GNWT, the federal government, communities, non-governmental organizations and others. “Because to address poverty, it’s going to take all of us. There’s no magic switch.”

The Territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan was released in 2015.

The roundtables allow communities to share some great ideas, Abernethy said.

“We need to find a way to build capacity and work together to make some of these things happen,” he said.

The minister said the roundtable included discussions about how to structure the next Territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan.

“We as the GNWT are going to help facilitate the building of that, but it’s not our document,” he said. “It’s the Territories’ document for all governments, all people that are working on this.”

Abernethy said there have been some improvements in some areas, such as education rates gradually increasing.

While in Hay River, many of the participants toured the women’s shelter, the Soup Kitchen and the Northern Farm Training Institute.

Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green, the deputy chair of the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Social Development, said there needs to be better ways to determine the effectiveness of various initiatives and projects.

“There are lots of great ideas, but I don’t think we have a good idea of what impact those ideas have had,” she said.

Chief April Martel of K’atlodeeche First Nation noted she spoke about poverty during an election earlier this month.

“We do have a high poverty rate, not only in our community but all over the North, and I did speak of that when I was running for the election,” she said. “I believe that, if we all work together, we can strengthen ourselves and also beat the poverty rate in our communities.”

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