Each year the OLIP interns are lucky enough to travel to the Northwest Territories and enjoy a comparative study tour in Yellowknife. This year, during a particularly frosty February, we layered up and made the trip up north to continue a cherished OLIP tradition and learn about their consensus style of government.
We enjoyed many meetings with our welcoming and engaging hosts. Our meetings included the Speaker, the Honourable Frederick Blake Jr., the outgoing and incoming Clerks, Mr. Tim Mercer and Mr. Glen Rutland, and a terrific lunch with Premier Caroline Cochrane and her Executive Council. These meetings, along with many others, gave us insight into the unique experience and perspective that comes with life in the Northwest Territories.
In between meetings with our gracious hosts, we enjoyed activities such as dogsledding, cross-country skiing, and tasting local foods – such as muktuk (frozen beluga whale blubber). These extracurricular excursions gave us a more wholistic understanding of life in Yellowknife and the wonderful people that call the city home.
In a first for OLIP interns visiting Yellowknife, we took a daytrip outside the city to Chief Jimmy Bruneau Regional High School in Behchokǫ̀. Here we met with social studies students to discuss differences between the systems of government in Ontario and the Northwest Territories and, more importantly, learn about the students, their passions, and the challenges they face. Speaking with these students gave us a perspective and understanding we will not soon forget. Our thanks to local MLA, Jane Weyallon Armstrong for encouraging us to make this visit.
As promised, our Yellowknife study tour created lasting bonds and memories. It opened our eyes to the unique challenges faced in Northern Canada and the responsibility we hold to ensure their voices are heard. Our sincere thanks to everyone who made this trip possible, including our hosts, guests, and our partners at Co-Operators. Finally, a special thanks to Danielle Mager, our contact at the Northwest Territories legislature, who worked tirelessly to coordinate a seamless visit for us.