Members of the legislative assembly held their caucus retreat in Fort Smith from Aug. 28 to 31, but five MLAs didn’t attend.
Katrina Nokleby, MLA for Great Slave, announced in a Facebook post on Aug. 28 that she didn’t plan to join the caucus retreat.
“Since the passing of my mom, I have not had a chance to deal with her estate nor properly grieve, therefore I have decided to head to B.C. in the coming days,” she wrote.
Nokleby’s post made no reference to her removal from the executive council on Aug. 26, an extraordinary and dramatic session of the legislative assembly where each MLA took turns explaining why they supported a non-confidence motion against her. Jackie Jacobson, MLA for Nunakput, was the sole member to abstain from the vote.
Lesa Semmler, MLA for Inuvik Twin Lakes, also announced on Facebook that she would join the meeting by teleconference, rather than in person.
“Although this week was a difficult week in the legislative assembly, I do have good working relationships with all my colleagues. In consensus government, we have to be able to agree to disagree while still continuing to work together,” she stated.
Jacobson also did not attend the retreat, according to Rylund Johnson, MLA for Yellowknife North. Efforts to contact Jacobson were not successful.
Jackson Lafferty, MLA for Monfwi, confirmed to NNSL Media that he wasn’t present for the event for personal reasons.
Rocky Simpson, MLA for Hay River South, was the fifth member who missed the gathering of legislators as he was travelling outside of the territory, said a representative from his constituency office.
At the retreat, former NWT premier Joe Handley gave a presentation on the territory’s consensus style government, according to a Facebook post from Frederick Blake Jr., Speaker of the assembly. Handley, who was also MLA for Weledeh, served from 1999-2007, with his tenure as premier spanning the latter four years.
Blake’s posts also showed retreat members attending a fundraising auction for repairs to the St. John’s Anglican Church. That auction was held at the Salt River First Nation office.
According to Katie Weaver, spokesperson for the legislative assembly, members joined confidential caucus meetings in Fort Smith and also met with leadership representing the Salt River First Nation, the Fort Smith Métis Council and the Town of Fort Smith.
They also toured the Fort Smith Fire Centre and visited natural sites around the community.