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$27 million up for grabs

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (Nov 15/04) - The federal government has $27 million to spend on economic development in the NWT over the next four fiscal years.

And last week it sought input from two invitation-only focus groups on how best to use the money, which was announced in this year's federal budget.

Ethel Blondin-Andrew, left, the minister of state for Northern Development, with Beatrice Lepine of Hay River at a Nov. 8 meeting discussing how to spend $27 million of federal government money. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Minister of State for Northern Development Ethel Blondin-Andrew hosted the meetings in Hay River and Norman Wells.

While the funding was welcomed, its potential impact on the NWT was questioned by some participants at the Hay River gathering on Nov. 8.

"It will help a bit, but I don't think it will have a major impact," said businessman Pierre (Rocky) Simpson. "It's a start."

Simpson said it's good the minister let people have a say.

Chief Robert Sayine of Deninu Ku'e First Nation in Fort Resolution also questioned how much impact the funding will have.

"To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what Fort Resolution will be getting out of it," Sayine said.

Blondin-Andrew is optimistic about the money.

"I'm happy we got a start and we're doing something," she said.

She said the money will help with training and education, the tourism industry, arts and crafts, fishing and "a whole array of things."

In all, $90 million is to be invested in the three territories under the initiative, she noted.

The money will be spent between April 1, 2005, and March 31, 2009.