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Yukon Transportation Museum
February 7, 2007
Check against delivery
Good afternoon, everyone.
On behalf of Minister Prentice, I am delighted to be taking part in the launch of the Great River Journey, an exciting geotourism undertaking that will offer visitors from Canada and around the world an authentic guided journey through nature and history in the North.
The Great River Journey is a prime example of how the North’s resource potential can be channeled into innovative and positive projects that tap into new markets, strengthen the tourism sector, support the environment, and help to diversify the northern economy.
This world-class adventure offering will raise the profile of the North as a premier tourist destination internationally and generate economic benefits for all Northerners and Canadians, including more than 30 jobs expected to be created over five years in the region and more than $5 million in economic benefits to First Nations communities.
I would like to congratulate all the partners who worked together on this exceptional venture: Great Northern Journey Incorporated, and the consortium of four First Nations that make up First Nation Investment Corporation.
Because the Great River Journey will take visitors on and through the traditional lands of the four First Nations, this partnership venture affords a wonderful opportunity for them to showcase their histories and cultures, and create sustainable employment for their community members. This geotourism tour is important in that it also promotes environmental awareness of northern lands and peoples.
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is proud to be investing $775,000 in 2006-2007 to support this project, under the Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development, or SINED, initiative. The total funding from the Government of Canada is $1.75 million over two years. This initiative is designed to deliver foundational investments to help generate important economic opportunities for Northerners, their businesses, and their communities. SINED consists of two complementary programs: the Targeted Investment Program; and the Innovation and Knowledge Fund.
The funding for the Great River Journey is provided under the Targeted Investment Program. This program supports strategic sectoral and regional priorities through projects developed in consultation with territorial stakeholders. The Program provides each of the three territories with $6 million in funding annually to support regional economic development aimed at outcomes that include more diversified territorial economies and increased economic self-reliance .
On his tour of the territories last summer, Prime Minister Harper emphasized that never before “have Northerners been so united in their desire for real jobs and real economic progress that to unleash the tremendous potential of this region.” The Prime Minister made very clear the Government of Canada’s commitment to work with Northerners to create a vibrant, diversified northern economy.
This is a message that I will be pleased to reinforce tomorrow on behalf of Minister Prentice at the Northern Development Ministers’ Forum. Forums such as this one afford great opportunities to make progress and work collaboratively, thus laying the groundwork for a shared prosperity that benefits Northerners and all Canadians.
It is important that we send out the right signals—to both domestic and international investors—that exciting changes are under way in the North. We want to let those investors know that governments and Northerners are working together to create the conditions for economic success.
I would like to close today with an up-to-the-minute example of what the Government of Canada is doing to help foster those conditions. Through Targeted Investment Program funding, we are supporting the development of a National Marketing Campaign by the Canada Winter Games Society to draw Canada’s attention northward.
This campaign provides for a pan-Northern marketing approach, supported by all three territorial governments. We believe that this campaign will contribute to creating a positive environment for sustainable development and economic diversification in the region.
Once again, let me congratulate the Great River Journey partners on this important addition to the economy of the North and of Canada. I wish you every success with this venture.