N.W.T. Days in Ottawa to cost an estimated $622K

The Northwest Territories government has again sent a group of cabinet ministers, regular MLAs, businesspeople, artists and youth to Ottawa to stoke political discussion and promote the territory as a tourism destination.

Large delegation from territory travelling to Ottawa to raise N.W.T.'s profile

A display at N.W.T. Days in Ottawa in 2013. The budget for this year's event is over $600,000. That includes the cost of setting up various displays at a pavilion at the Shaw Conference Centre in Ottawa. (GNWT)

Just a week after wrapping a $300,000 trade mission to China and Japan, the Northwest Territories government has sent a group of cabinet ministers, regular MLAs, businesspeople, artists and youth ambassadors to push important political causes in Ottawa and promote N.W.T. as a tourism destination at the capital's Winterlude festival.

In total, the effort, known as N.W.T. Days, is costing an estimated $622,000, according to the territorial government. That's up only slightly from the cost of putting on the same event in 2013, which was $619,000.

This year's allocations include:

  • $112,000 for political meetings between N.W.T. and federal politicians, a gala, and travel and accommodations for the members of the N.W.T. government;
  • $275,000 for a NWT Pavilion inside the Shaw Conference Centre. The pavilion will be home to video displays, exhibits of Northern arts and crafts and diamond polishing, and musical performances by recent Juno nominee Leela Gilday and others;
  • $75,000 for large, interactive displays the government says it can reuse at future conferences and promotional events;
  • $35,000 covering the travel costs and fees for five N.W.T. visual artists demonstrating their work at the pavilion; 
  • and $125,000 covering travel and accommodations for 12 NWT Youth Ambassadors from different regions of the territory. At the pavilion, the ambassadors will talk about their communities and demonstrate Arctic games. 

Making the best use of time

A report about the benefits of NWT Days 2013 released by the territorial government late that year raised questions about the value of meetings at the event. 

"Generally respondents indicated that the meetings were less effective at encouraging commitment to follow-up discussions or assistance," the report reads. "A number of respondents commented that the meetings were not long enough to accomplish meaningful dialogue." 

Asked if the territorial government was tweaking its approach to meetings this time around, McLeod said, "I think we've managed to adjust our agenda to make sure that happens."

McLeod maintained N.W.T. Days is a worthwhile investment to promote the territory.

"My understanding is there's usually 120 so-called Arctic events in Ottawa every year, the majority of which we're not able to attend. So this is our way of making sure our presence is felt and people understand what our objectives are."

Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya is among the regular MLAs who is not travelling to N.W.T. Days. He did not support McLeod's trip to China, but he says he does support the Ottawa event. 

"It's a good investment," he said. "And doors need to be kept open to the funding pot."

Yellowknife MLA Daryl Dolynny decided not to join the N.W.T. delegation this year, as he did in 2013.

"We're at the tail-end of our term as an assembly and we haven't knocked off a number of our priorities as an assembly," he said. "Being here and getting ready for session was a bigger priority for me at this point." 


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