Bob McLeod At North American Fur Fair and Exhibition NAFFEM – Montreal
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
North American Fur Fair and Exhibition NAFFEM – Montreal
Congratulations to the Fur Council of Canada on the launch of yet-another terrific show. I am looking forward to visiting the many aspects of the show in detail.Thank you to Mr. Herscovici (Alan) for the opportunity to take part in this morning’s event.
Minister Bachand has spoken to you about the economic value of the fur industry and the impact it is having on the Quebec economy. As the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment in the Northwest Territories, this is something that I can very much attest to and echo.
The Northwest Territories context
While the focus, here in Montreal, is very much on the manufacturing of fur – in the Northwest Territories, it is the harvesting of fur.
In fact, the Government of the Northwest Territories is one of very few governments in the world that actively supports the harvesting and marketing of wild fur as a fundamental component of a modern and thriving economy.
This may surprise those of you who know anything about the NWT’s economic picture. In recent years, much has been written and said about resource exploration and development in the Northwest Territories – diamond mines and pipelines – and the phenomenal economic growth that has resulted
Many of our Aboriginal people are taking on direct roles in this new modern economy – as business owners, operators and investors.
And along side them – still – are those who continue to work in the traditional economies of our Territory – hunting, fishing and trapping. A key part of our economy that has sustained Aboriginal populations in the NWT for thousands of years – providing food, clothing, shelter, tools and goods for trade.
Unless you are in the Northwest Territories, it is easy to over look these pursuits – and to underestimate their importance compared to things like diamond mines and pipelines.
But for our people who live in small remote communities, it is the Fur Industry that continues to “bridge the gap” in terms of subsistence and survival.
Trapping offers a reliable and sustainable safe haven against the fluctuations of a “boom and bust” economy and it is helping us to diversify and balance our economy in a manner that respects the social and cultural values and aspirations of our people.
As a government, we are infinitely aware that the value of our Traditional Economy – and the fur industry in particular – is much more than what is evidenced by economic terms or statistics.
For the Aboriginal people of the Northwest Territories, it is a way of life – one that reflects generations of culture and tradition and a proud history of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. It provides the means to ensure that these values are sustained – and important social and cultural links are maintained to the land and its resources.
The Government of the Northwest Territories has invested heavily in the NWT’s Fur Industry through the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur Program. The Program reflects the high regard given – not only to the production of the fur industry as a sector – but also to its participants – the men and women who run the trap lines –and their cultures and traditions.
The Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur Program is built on training programs that reflect the time-honoured practice of passing on traditional skills and knowledge. Since the inception of the program over 4000 youth from across the NWT have participated in the program.
Our investment also includes fully guaranteed financing, market intelligence and support to ensure trapping technology utilized in the NWT is the most current, efficient technology available on the market today.
We have linked time-honoured traditions and practices with an increased understanding of today’s market demands in order to ensure and maintain a high level of product excellence.
Today, almost 1000 people benefit from the industry ranging in age from pre teens to 90 years of age. We have seen the quality and demand of NWT furs at auction increase. Fur from the Northwest Territories is now recognized as some of the finest wild fur in North America.
The on going support and success that the NWT fur industry has experienced in the international marketplace is also reflected in the benefits that are being returned to our trappers and their communities.
All of this bodes well for the trapping industry in the North, which was almost completely devastated just a few short years ago.
Thank you for your on-going support of the NWT fur industry.