Music teacher says minister is 'biased' on N.W.T. lottery funding

While N.W.T. legislators await to review the new lotteries bill clause by clause, members of the sports and arts communities of the territory are clawing for more funds.

Minister said money won't go to the arts, but will stay with sports and recreation

Mary Kelly is a music teacher and workshop facilitator in Yellowknife. She says she was disappointed by the Minister's lack of engagement with the arts community. (Maurice Gunning)

As legislators await to review the Northwest Territories new lotteries bill clause by clause, members of the territory's sports, recreation and arts communities are clawing for more funds.

Wednesday, the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs Caroline Cochrane gave a firm no to directing lottery funds to the arts, currently earmarked for sports and recreation.

"At this point — because it is only under $5 million — I would not be willing to entertain to move it to any other services except for sports and recreation," said Cochrane at the hearing Wednesday, saying she'll leave the five regional sports organizations to decide whether the arts fall under "recreation."

But members of the arts community want to be included. 

"It was acknowledged the arts provide an equal benefit for the community and individual, but it's disappointing that the minister refuses to engage arts specialists in the conversation," said Mary Kelly, a music teacher and workshop facilitator in Yellowknife, after attending Wednesday's first hearing on the lottery act.

"The minister seems pretty protective of letting the sports and recreation organisations provide that definition ... and that's a very biased approach," said Kelly on Thursday.

Artists, athletes and politicians gathered to hear if the N.W.T. Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs would consider giving lottery funds to the arts Wednesday. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Kelly says funding for the arts is less dependable compared to the lottery dollars that feed sports and recreation annually.

"That funding has to be applied for every year [to N.W.T. arts council], and has to be project specific," Kelly said. 

What's the definition of recreation?

Janie Hobart, president of the Mackenzie Recreation Association, argued funds for sports and the arts needs to be addressed in her presentation to the standing committee on government operations.

"Both the sports and recreation sector and arts sector deserve proper funding. My concern is the lottery will be diluted if it doesn't stay with sports," said Hobart, adding that the government should provide adequate funding for the arts sector and leave the lottery funding with the sports sector.

Hobart says an open discussion on what recreation is needs to happen, and a definition solidified before the lottery bill goes forward.
Janie Hobart, president of the Mackenzie Recreation Association, says recreation goes beyond sport. (Submitted by Janie Hobart)

"When people hear recreation they only think of sport. Recreation is so much more like walking, hunting and fishing."

The funding in question is regulated under the Western Canada Lottery Act, which was passed in 1988 to provide revenues for sport and recreation programs in the territory.  

The legislative assembly is reviewing the bill after warnings from the Canada Revenue Agency that those revenues could be subject to federal taxation.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.