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Newsbriefs: Monday, March 20, 2017

Silence at contract negotiations


The Union of Northern Workers and GNWT agreed on at least one thing when they met for three days recently: Keep quiet about the state of negotiations.

The union posted a brief update stating talks had taken place and the sides plan to meet again "in the near future."

It was the first time the sides had met since September. UNW represents about 4,000 GNWT employees whose contract expired March 31, 2016.

The GNWT had been publicly posting summaries of proposals after negotiation sessions. No such document has been posted this time.

- Shane Magee

New flight fee

Somba K'e/Yellowknife

MLAs voted 10-7 in favour of a bill that will add between $19 and $29 to the price of a plane ticket at the Yellowknife airport, starting in July.

The new Airport Improvement Fee on flights through Yellowknife will cost $20 for travellers heading south and $10 for trips within the territory, plus an additional aeronautical fee of between $7 and $9.

The Department of Transportation estimates these changes will generate around $10 million in new revenue a year and eliminate the $4 million a year taxpayers currently pay to subsidize the airport.

- Jessica Davey Quantick

Inuvialuit self-government info session


The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation will be holding an information session on self-government Wednesday, March 22.

The public meeting will be open to all Inuvialuit beneficiaries and will give people a chance to ask questions directly to the Inuvialuit negotiating team.

The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Inuvik Community Corporation.

- Stewart Burnett

JK survey circulated


The Inuvik District Education Authority is looking for input on the implementation of junior kindergarten next fall.

The plan for implementing the program for the first year is to run it as a half-day program, with classes both in the morning and afternoon.

There will be two classrooms, allowing for four total classes with class sizes of 10 to 15 students.

The survey asks if parents would rather see this offered as a half-day or full-day program.

The survey is available at:

- Stewart Burnett

Charge laid in trucking incident

Somba K'e/Yellowknife

A charge has been laid in at least one of the recent tractor-trailer rollovers although the Department of Transportation will not reveal who had been charged and with what offence.

Steve Loutitt, director of road licensing and safety for the department, said identifying who was charged "would not be fair."

"People in the industry will be able to identify who the person is and that's not fair to that person," said Loutitt.

"When someone goes to court you can watch proceedings. It's not fair to name a person or a company charged before they are potentially convicted."

- John McFadden

Trucking safety records kept secret


Information on which trucking companies are operating safely in the NWT and which ones are not is not publicly available despite documents on the territorial government's own Department of Transportation website stating it is.

The NWT road safety plan, introduced by the territorial government in 2015, refers to publicly available "carrier safety ratings" that have been maintained by the registrar of motor vehicles with the Department of Transportation since 1990.

The problem is, the carrier ratings don't exist anywhere where the public can see them.

Ioana Spiridonica, spokesperson for the transportation department, said she believes statements saying the ratings are public were made in error.

"It may be the case that you have to put in an (access to information) request, because that information could affect the commercial carriers. It's a matter of privacy," said Spiridonica.

- John McFadden

Fatbikers hit frozen road


David Stephens has spent much of his life pedalling around the world. So when he heard the Tuktoyaktuk winter road is closing permanently this year in advance of completion of the Inuvik to Tuk Highway, he jumped on the opportunity to offer a tour. He's offering to take interested riders along the 187-kilometre road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk from March 31 to April 5.

Although the trip is open to all, he warns it's not going to be a walk in the park.

"It's almost 200 kilometres in four days," he said. "It could be great weather; it could be a blizzard. There are other factors that some people might not have heard about, including grizzly bears coming out of

hibernation and polar bears."

- Robin Grant

Search for new test tool on hold

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment is pausing plans to replace the Alberta Achievement Test (AAT) with a new testing tool.

NWT students in Grades 6 and 9 write the standardized tests each year to give educators an idea of how well they're performing in English and math. Grade 3 students in the NWT used to take the AATs as well, until Alberta stopped testing that grade level.

Last February, Yellowknife school boards were looking for a new testing tool as Alberta planned to phase out its provincial tests altogether, replacing it with new computer-based tests called Student Learning Assessments (SLAs).

The NWT-piloted the SLAs with Grade 3 students across the territory but they weren't a good fit, according to Rita Mueller, assistant deputy minister for the education department.

Some schools in small communities didn't have the bandwidth capacity to run the tests properly.

But Alberta has since decided it will continue administering Grade 6 and 9 AATs for the time being, Mueller said.

"They're not following their original phase out period," Mueller said. "So we're assuming that these (AATs) will still continue for a number of years."

She said she isn't aware of exactly when Alberta plans to stop using AATs but expects it is at least a few years away.

Mueller said Alberta is in the process of redesigning its kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum, as is the NWT.

- Kirsten Fenn

Elders learn new skills

Lli Goline/Norman Wells

The Norman Wells Community Library is hosting Elders Technology and Tea workshops for older residents of the community, said librarian Jodi Holland.

The workshops are intended to teach older people how to get the most out of their devices, including how to use iPads and iPhones.

The next step will be teaching basic internet skills.

Holland said the goal is to host the workshops twice a month.

"We hope to do it every two weeks from now until they've learned what they need to learn," Holland said.

Tea and cookies will be served during the lessons and participants are encouraged to bring along any devices they hope to learn more about.

"We are excited," Holland said. "It's going to be good."

- Kassina Ryder

Heritage Fair winners announced


The top 10 winners of the Elizabeth Mackenzie Elementary School Heritage Fair will move on to the regional fair on April 28.

The school's fair was held in Behchoko on Feb. 22 and was open to all grades, said Tammy Steinwand-Deschambeault, Culture and Language co-ordinator with the Tlicho Community Services Agency.

There were 21 projects entered by students in kindergarten to Grade 3 while an additional 23 projects were entered by students in Grades 4 to 6.

There were more individual projects than usual this year, Steinwand-Deschambeault said. Typically, students partner up to do projects but this year, there were more individual projects.

There was also more use of Tlicho.

"A lot of students are using more Tlicho in their titles, which is nice," Steinwand-Deschambeault said.

The regional heritage fair is scheduled to take place in Behchoko.

The winners were: 1st- Alana Lamouelle for Traditional Fish, Grade 4/5; 2nd - Britanya Zoe for Bannonck, Grade 4/5; 3rd - Nashawn Tlokka and Rosaleah Drybones for The Arrival of Non-Dene, Gr.6; 4th - Giselle Mantla and Sienna Mantla for Men and Women Roles, Grade 5/6; 5th - Cassy Mantla-Dryneck and Lacey Ann Migwi for Our Tlicho Animals, Gr.6; 6th - Nihtsiyee Huskey for Raven, Grade 4/5; 7th - James John Wedzin and Tinesha Black for Look Way Up, Grade 6; 8th - Liza Apples and Stacey Black for Northern Lights, Grade 4; 9th - Lacey Lewis and Liliah Erasmus for The History of our Leaders, Gr. 6; and 10th - Edie Rabesca for Chief Rabesca, Grade 4/5.

- Kassina Ryder

Wekweeti talks tourism

Wekweeti/Snare Lakes

Representatives from Tlicho communities will travel to Yellowknife on April 25 to discuss tourism, said Robert Moretti, Wekweeti's senior administrative officer.

The meeting is part of ongoing discussions on ways to promote tourism in the Tlicho region.

The meeting is expected to include senior administrative officers, economic development officers, representatives from the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, as well as the Tlicho Government.

Moretti said the region will soon have its own tourism plan.

- Kassina Ryder

Red River Jamboree kicks off March 23

Tsiigehtchic/Arctic Red River

The 2017 Arctic Red River Mackenzie Jamboree will see four packed days of events in town March 23 to 26.

Events kick off on Thursday, March 23, but the opening ceremonies will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, March 24.

The jamboree will feature basketball, adult and youth games, traditional games, community cookouts, rifle shoot contests, Ski-Doo races and much more.

The Going Miles Conference is being held in conjunction with the jamboree this year, with daily workshops from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The workshops bring in actors, comedians and other artists and cover topics on empowerment, self-esteem and issues facing youth today. Friday night, the group will hold a hypnotic illusions show.

- Stewart Burnett

Lots of options for youth


The Hamlet of Aklavik is hosting regular youth nights for the remainder of this month at the curling club.

"We've got guitar lessons going, cooking lessons, baking nights for the kids," said Dean McLeod, recreation co-ordinator.

All of the events take place at 6 p.m. in the evenings, with different activities on different nights.

They are free for youth to attend.

- Stewart Burnett

Easter event planning underway


Lily-Ann Green, recreation co-ordinator with the Hamlet of Paulatuk, says she's just about to start planning the community's Easter events.

"We have events for all ages," said Green. "We have sled races, foot races. We have Easter egg hunts for kids.

"Our biggest events are the Ski-Doo races, the track and the straightaway."

The community has also held snow-sculpting events and others in the past.

- Stewart Burnett

Community planning underway

Tthek'ehdeli/Jean Marie River

The first phase of Jean Marie River First Nation's comprehensive community planning process runs until March 31.

The process includes group sessions at the band office and one-on-one interviews with community support worker Melanie Norwegian and a co-facilitator.

Meals, door prizes and an honorarium will be provided by the band for participants.

The planning process can include cultural, social and economic planning.

It can also take a look at infrastructure needs and what priorities community members feel the band needs to focus on.

- April Hudson

Lukeh Carnival kicks off

Tthenaago/Nahanni Butte

Nahanni Butte's spring Lukeh Carnival was set to run from March 17 to March 19.

A full weekend of activities and events for young and old was scgeduled, including traditional games, a hockey tournament and family dances.

There was also to be live music during dances and a bingo.

- April Hudson

Snowshoe making at public library

Hay River

An Introduction to Making Snowshoes at NWT Centennial Library continues March 22 and 23.

The free workshop, which is for youth aged 16 to 29 years, is part of the library's Skills Builders for Youth Program.

Working with prefabricated frames, the youth will each prepare, weave and varnish their own pair of snowshoes.

Due to funding requirements, preference will be given to underemployed youth looking to gain workplace skills.

Extra seats will open to the general public if they are available.

The workshop is being presented by NWT Centennial Library, the Town of Hay River and the NWT Literacy Council.

- Paul Bickford

Enterprise to honour Walk to Tuk teams


A celebration dinner will be held in Enterprise on March 25 to recognize the two teams from the community that participated in the annual Walk to Tuk physical activity, which began Jan. 3 and concluded Feb. 28.

Participants form teams to try to walk the equivalent distance - 1,658 km - of the Mackenzie River from Fort Providence to Tuktoyaktuk. Both teams in Enterprise recorded the distance to Tuktoyaktuk and more.

At the March 25 community celebration from 6 to 9 p.m. at the community hall, Walk to Tuk participants will receive special T-shirts.

Walk to Tuk is presented annually by the Northwest Territories Recreation and Parks Association.

- Paul Bickford

Reeling the film festival

Hay River

The Yellowknife International Film Festival's road tour will be making a stop in Hay River on March 25 at the Riverview Cineplex.

The Sun at Midnight by Kirsten Carthew will be presented at 7 p.m. on March 25, preceded by the two short films Painted Girl by Jennifer Walden and Hangin' with the Con Kids by Terry Woolf and Gary Milligan.

Angry Inuk by Alethea Arnuq-Baril will be shown at 9 p.m. on March 25, preceded by the short film SHIFT by Kelly Milner.

Admission is free to all the films.

They are from last fall's 10th-annual Yellowknife International Film Festival.

The road tour of the Northern films is taking place with the support of the NWT Film Commission of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

- Paul Bickford

Sambaa K'e embraces spring with a carnival

Sambaa K'e/Trout Lake

The Ndu Tah Spring Carnival is set to run through March 26.

Events throughout the week include a scavenger hunt and flea market.

On March 22, an adult crib tournament on March 23 and talent shows for children and adults on March 24.

March 25 will include handgames and traditional games.

There will also be a dress-up contest to determine the Bush Boy and Bush Girl of the carnival.

The carnival wraps up March 26 with more handgames and a feast.

- April Hudson

Handgames and drum dances all part of this year's Bison Jamboree

Deh Gah Got'ie Koe/Fort Providence

The 2017 Dehcho Bison Jamboree will run from March 20 to 26.

The jamboree opens March 20 with handgame and drumming lessons at the school gymnasium, a workshop which will continue on March 21.

There will be a mini carnival and drum dance on March 22 as well as a chili cook-off hosted by Deh Gah Got'ie First Nation.

March 23 will include youth activities and a juggling act by Eric the Juggler.

On March 24, there will be a corporate challenge outside the Snowshoe Inn, a singles crib tournament and a youth talent show and drum dance.

The following day includes an afternoon of traditional events and an adult talent show in the evening.

- April Hudson

Deadline approaches for Sahtu scholarship


The Sahtu Renewable Resources Board is encouraging Sahtu youth to apply for a new scholarship opportunity.

The Youth On The Land scholarship is available to youth between the ages of 18 and 30 but is also available to those who want to take a youth on the land, according to Joe Hanlon, program co-ordinator

"We're willing to work with the youth and the mentor, but it has to include someone 18 to 30," Hanlon said.

Applicants must provide information on the skills they're hoping to learn, the type of equipment required and the name and contact information for the person they're hoping will mentor them.

Hanlon said for those who don't have access to a computer, he can be reached at the board office in Tulita to help applicants put together their application package.

"I can work with them as long as they have an idea," he said.

The deadline to apply is March 24.

- Kassina Ryder