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What does a just recovery look like? N.W.T. youth advocates have an idea

Our Time Yellowknife's day of action is hoping to spur conversation about a "just recovery" in the N.W.T.

Just Recovery campaign day of action hopes to spur conversation about pandemic recovery

A crowd listens to speakers at a rally organized by Our Time Yellowknife in the city's Somba K'e Park. Our Time's Day of Action is hoping to generate support for what the group calls a 'just recovery.' (Our Time Yellowknife/Facebook)

How can the N.W.T. recover from the pandemic in a way that is equal and just? 

The question looms in the minds of many, but Our Time, a youth advocacy group in the N.W.T., has organized a campaign which aims to address this question specifically. 

Friday was the campaign's day of action and it was hoping to catch the attention of politicians in order to create greater change.

As MLAs grapple with how to respond to the fallout of the public health crisis, it is also important to address the "deep-rooted crises" that the pandemic has built upon, Our Time's website says. 

Access to livable wages, sick leave, affordable housing, mental health and wellness support, universal internet, along with mitigating the impacts of climate change should be a greater priority, argues Our Time.

'These are not crises that are out of our depth to fix or to help make better ... people do not need to be suffering in the ways that they are,' said Guile, a volunteer organizer with Our Time Yellowknife. (Submitted by Zoe Guile)

"These are not crises that are out of our depth to fix or to help make better ... people do not need to be suffering in the ways that they are," said Our Time volunteer organizer Zoe Guile. 

For example, Guile says that reliable and affordable access to the internet is a "right" that has not been guaranteed to all communities in the N.W.T., but there are ways to change that. 

Northwestel recently announced it would be offering unlimited internet to several communities in the N.W.T., demonstrating that it is possible, but may need more political pressure to make it happen.

The Green New Deal, a package of policies meant to stimulate the economy with massive investment in green technology, is also something that the group is pushing for. They hope that politicians will diversify the N.W.T.'s economy, rather than remaining reliant on the mining industry, which can be environmentally destructive and unsustainable. 

The group is encouraging people to share their definitions of a just recovery on social media and email their MLAs. Pretty Ngo, a volunteer with the group, posted this photo. (Submitted by Our Time Yellowknife)

"That's not stopping mining overnight," Guile said, because "everyone in the Northwest Territories almost relies on that industry." But "we can try to come up with ways to do better," she said, and move the economy in a more equitable direction.

Our Time has lobbied Micheal McLeod to support the Green New Deal and adopt the plan into legislation, but it has not been endorsed yet. 

They hope people will share how they think a just recovery would impact them on social media and email their MLAs. 

So far, only three members of the legislative assembly have supported the plan, which include Kevin O'Reilly, Katrina Nokleby and Rylund Johnson.

"It's meant to be a campaign for the people, and so having people speak up in support of a just recovery for the Northwest Territories, that means everything. And that's what it's all about," Guile said. 

Our Time Yellowknife's response tracker shows which MLAs have committed to the groups demands. So far, only MLAs O'Reilly, Nokleby, and Johnson have made public commitments to the plan. (Submitted by Our Time Yellowknife)

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