A new campaign is calling for more support for the people and environment of the NWT as the territory strives to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Just Recovery for the NWT movement, which launched last week, is making six demands of the GNWT to address social, racial and environmental issues the pandemic has worsened, according to the campaign’s website.
“A just recovery is one that we see as putting people and the land first, that helps those who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” said volunteer organizer Zoe Guile, from Our Time for a Green New Deal Yellowknife.
Those six demands are: good jobs, living wages and sick leave for all; guaranteed livable income; affordable housing for all; universal access to the internet; community healing and wellness; and a green new deal to reduce the effects of climate change.
The demands are aimed at addressing inequalities faced by Black, Indigenous and people of colour, people with low incomes, women and non-binary people, and youth and Elders, the campaign’s website says.
“Those without good jobs, proper housing, quality internet, and access to mental health services in the Northwest Territories have been struggling to get by. Many of us are putting ourselves at risk in front-line jobs, while others work safely from home. Meanwhile, the climate crisis hasn’t gone away and 2020 has seen worse-than-average flooding in the NWT.”
Guile said the campaign isn’t asking for big changes, rather it’s asking for small things that it feels people can support.
“I think it’s just common sense. Everyone should have good jobs, access to the internet and a clean environment,” she said.
Just Recovery is urging NWT residents to send letters to MLAs and pressure them to take action on the demands. Its website contains a section where people can email their MLAs.
The portal also features an MLA Response Tracker that lists members who have “publicly committed to governing for a Just Recovery.”
As of Monday, only Kevin O’Reilly, MLA for Frame Lake, is identified as having made that commitment.
Twelve organizations are listed on the site as backers of the campaign, including Ecology North, Yellowknife Women’s Society and the Union of Northern Workers. More than 60 individuals are named as supporters as well.
While the issues the campaign is targeting were already present in the NWT before Covid, the group decided to launch its campaign now as the reconvening of the legislative assembly approaches.
“The next sitting is coming up on Oct. 15,” said Guile. “We think that the next sitting of the house will be the big one. There will be some big decisions made for the (Covid) recovery then. We feel our suggestions will have the most impact in the next sitting.”
Just Recovery’s next step in a few weeks will be to hold an online virtual teach-in on the issues highlighted in the demands.
“I’m really happy with the feedback we’ve had from the community,” Guile said. “These demands are a reflection of that and I hope people will continue to sign on.”