Year in review
News/North: 2012 - The Year in Review
Suspicious Fort Smith fire
A log cabin owned by the inactive Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce went up in smoke on Jan. 1 in what Steve Moss, NWT fire marshal, considered to be a suspicious fire.
The cabin's walls remained standing though the roof and interior contents were destroyed. No one was injured in the fire.
There was no clear source of the fire and Moss said it was his understanding that no one had been in the building for several months.
The Town of Fort Smith planned to remove the building once the fire marshal's report was complete.
Miltenberger target of human rights complaint
The Governor General's visit to the Fort Smith Aurora College campus Dec. 9, 2011 resulted in a human rights complaint against Thebacha MLA and Finance Minister, Michael Miltenberger.
Gabrielle Landrie, a transgendered student at the college, alleged Miltenberger harassed her, repeatedly telling her to leave the school grounds, and told her she "spooked" David Johnson, Governor General of Canada, during his visit.
Landrie filed her complaint with the NWT Human Rights Commission and said a public apology from Miltenberger at the college "would set a lot of things straight."
Emergency food demand drops 50 per cent
Tuktoyaktuk's food bank reports a 50 per cent drop in usage since the territorial government changed the way income assistance is distributed in the community.
In Sept. 2011, recipients of income support started receiving grocery store vouchers instead of cheques. The change was scheduled for reassessment in March 2012.
Bingo sales in the community had also dropped during the same time period.
Ulukhaktok, which had made the opposite change two years prior, was reporting an increase of approximately 20 per cent in demand for emergency food.
Health authority deficit reaches $8.5 million
The Beaufort Delta Health and Social Services Authority reported a deficit of $8.5 million, after finding itself $2.9 million in the red during the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Roger Israel, director of finance and operations for the authority, attributed the deficit to such expenses as $760,000 for relocation, $1.3 million in increased contract costs, and $1.9 million in overtime expenses.
Physician services were $1.65 million over budget due to on-call pay, call-back pay, the hiring of specialists, and 24/7 staffing for the emergency room.
Approximately 40 people from around the region attended the health authority's annual general meeting in Inuvik on Jan. 11.
Cancer concerns in Fort Resolution
A higher than average rate of cancer deaths in Fort Resolution had residents looking for answers.
Community members met with representatives from the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority on Jan. 19 to discuss the issue and start work on finding out what is going on.
"Something seems to be wrong," said Les Harrison, CEO of the health authority.
"We need to take a look at it."
Harrison said research into various areas needed to be done to pinpoint if and why cancer rates are higher in Fort Resolution than in other communities in the NWT and Canada.
Inuvik to make diesel switch
The Northwest Territories Power Corporation announced Inuvik's power would be supplied by diesel fuel instead of natural gas in early 2012.
Michael Miltenberger, minister responsible for the power corp., announced the GNWT would help with the cost difference to Inuvik homeowners since a NWT-wide rate increase was expected in the near future.
Ikhil Joint Venture, which is contracted to supply Inuvik Gas and the power corp. with natural gas from the Ikhil well, announced in the fall that the well would be depleted within two years, despite having nine years left on its 20-year contract.
First talk for GNWT, Tlicho government
GNWT cabinet ministers and the Tlicho government executive Council met in their entirety for the first time on Jan. 12 and 13 in Yellowknife since the Tlicho Government was established six years ago.
Premier Bob McLeod said the two sides agreed to develop a government-to-government relationship and a memorandum of understanding on how to work together.
Devolution topped the list of hefty topics discussed during the two-day meeting. Both the Tlicho executive and the GNWT made presentations to the other side on the devolution and the proposed agreement-in-principle.
Baby born in record-breaking storm
A record-breaking storm tore through the NWT during the week of Jan. 16, the same week Sasha Blake gave birth to her first child, Heidi Blake, weighing 11 pounds 14 ounces.
At the time, high winds and blowing snow forced road closures, ripped portions of the roof off the Inuvik airport, and dragged a hot tub down Inuvik's main street.
"This big storm didn't affect the services (for) the C-section," said Ethel-Jean Gruben, Blake's aunt. "I was just amazed at how calm the hospital was and how they were so positive and very supportive."
Temperatures dropped to -37 C in Inuvik and -41 C in Yellowknife.
Norman Wells recorded 38 hours of consistent storm weather, according to Environment Canada, breaking the previous record of 20 hours from Jan. 28, 1962.
Roadblock for Tuk gas plan
A natural gas energy solution to Tuktoyaktuk's power problem was crushed after Calgary-based Brackman Energy Consulting Ltd. doubted the project's economical merit in a feasibility study.
Mayor Merven Gruben said he was disappointed with the report and felt the consulting firm's southern location interfered with the firm's understanding of the hamlet's needs and situation.
The natural gas plan was intended to replace the hamlet's current practice of importing three to four million litres of diesel fuel by barge each year to supply power to the community's 880 residents.
Devolution lawsuit launched
A hiccup in devolution talks occurred after the Gwich'in Tribal Council launched a Supreme Court lawsuit against the territorial and federal government.
The lawsuit was launched on the basis that the council was not adequately consulted throughout the process of signing the Devolution Agreement-In-Principle (AIP) more than a year prior.
When the document was signed by the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the federal interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, the premier of the NWT, and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, a large crowd of both Dene and non-aboriginal people left the room.
Premier Bob McLeod asserted the GNWT had met all legal obligations for consultation for all aboriginal parties. He pointed out that, without a devolution agreement, $165,000 per day ends up in the hands of the federal government instead of in the NWT.
Fields sent out to pasture
The two NWT Fields stores, located in Hay River and Fort Smith, were set to close in the fall of 2012 after the Hudson's Bay Company, Fields' owner, decided to shut down all 167 Fields locations across Canada.
Residents of both communities voiced concerns to News/North about ensuing job losses, product availability, and the loss of a store that provided a lot for reasonable prices.
Tiffany Bourne, external communications manager for Hudson's Bay Company, said the closures were based on a decision to focus on the company's other banner stores, such as The Bay, Lord & Taylor, and Home Outfitters.
Both stores remain open to this day.
Norman Wells rejoiced at the promise of a wellness centre and long-term care facility by Health and Social Services Minister Tom Beaulieu.
Beaulieu said the new facility would likely break ground in 2013 and provide 18 long-term care beds.
The region would also gain new jobs in administration, nursing, physiotherapy, house-keeping, cooking, and more with its completion.
The department was unable to release a budget at the time, however, Beaulieu said the cost is scheduled into the capital plan.
Fort Smith challenges Statistics Canada
Past mayor of Fort Smith, Janie Hobart, was working on a letter to Statistics Canada on Feb. 9 challenging 2011 census data indicating the community's population dropped 11.4 per cent since 2006.
"For a community the size of Fort Smith to lose 115 homes would be very, very evident," Hobart said. "That would mean blocks in our community. That's not the case and, actually, we are opening a new subdivision because there's a demand for more housing. Our vacancy rate is zero."
According to the census, Fort Smith's population fell to 2,093 in 2011 from 2,364 six years prior.
Court actionover caribou
North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA) filed an application for judicial review of the GNWT's decision to exclude the Metis from the limited aboriginal harvest.
Michael Miltenberger, minister of Environment and Natural Resources, instituted a complete ban on hunting the Bathurst herd after a 2009 population survey showed a striking drop from herd numbers.
A 2010 management plan released by the Wek'eezhii Renewable Resources Board sanctioned a limited aboriginal harvest of 300 animals to be shared between the Yellowknives Dene and Tlicho communities.
Bill Enge, president of the North Slave Metis Alliance, said the alliance was asking for between 50 and 75 caribou but were told by Miltenberger that the GNWT did not recognize the North Slave Metis Alliance Members as Metis with distinct aboriginal rights in the North Slave region.
The Status of Women Council honoured five women with Wise Women awards on Feb. 14.
Marsha Argue of Yellowknife, Greta Sittichinli of Inuvik, Ethel Blondin-Andrew of Norman Wells, Therese "Dollie" Simon of Fort Resolution, and Margaret Vandell of the Deh Cho were all recipients for being role models in their communities and brought the total number of award recipients to 93. It was the 20th anniversary for the awards and a ceremony was scheduled to take place March 9 at the legislative assembly.
Residential school report released
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released an interim report Feb. 24 containing 20 recommendations to a combination of territorial and federal governments for the NWT and Nunavut.
Among the recommendations was a call for a Northern mental health and healing centre in either the NWT or Nunavut and curriculum which would teach the history and impact of residential schools in classrooms around Canada. The report also recommended a copy of the federal government's apology to former students of residential school be sent to all survivors as well as all secondary schools in Canada, due to what the report considers limited exposure of the actual wording of the apology.
NWT privacy commissioner slams Conservative bill
Proposed legislation regarding the police's ability to monitor people's Internet usage without a warrant generated harsh criticism from around Canada, including the NWT.
Elaine Keenan-Bengts, privacy commissioner of the NWT, called the legislation "really scary stuff."
"The fact that I may have, for example, electronically transferred $5,000 to my RRSP this week is really nobody's business but mine," said Keenan-Bengts.
She said, although the bill is intended to monitor criminals, the lack of limitations on the legislation means it could be used to monitor people and gather private information such as who people support politically.
Oil sand monitoring in NWT
The effects of Alberta's oil sands on the NWT would be tested by monitoring stations installed in Fort Smith, Hay River and Fort Resolution.
The stations were part of the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring announced Feb. 3.
Peter Kent, minister of Environment Canada, called the three-year implementation plan the most transparent and accountable oil sands monitoring system in the world.
True bridge cost
A computer programmer, known as NorthernRaven, decided to calculate his own cost of the Deh Cho Bridge after realizing media were only reporting the capital cost of the bridge.
His estimation put the cost of the bridge around $340 million. The capital cost, and the number frequently quoted, was $192 million. The final capital cost came closer to $202 million.
The additional costs were calculated after taking interest, cost overruns, and lost revenue and additional costs from opening delays.
After seeing the NorthernRaven's work, Earl Blacklock, manager of public affairs and communications for the Department Transportation, said he "wouldn't quarrel" with the programmer's numbers.
Small schools struggle
The 2011 student assessment tests showed a status quo for the territory's students, with Yellowknife still ranked above community schools and attendance problems on the rise.
According to the results, 46 per cent of students in smaller communities achieved at or above their grade level in English, compared to 76 per cent in regional centres and 74 per cent in Yellowknife.
Attendance rate was identified as one of the main reasons for student performance. Attendance rates were down slightly to 84.3 per cent from 86.1 per cent in the NWT. In Yellowknife, where achievement was higher, attendance was 90.4 per cent.
Solar power project launched
The largest NWT solar project was activated Feb. 23 by the Northwest Territories Power Corporation in Fort Simpson.
The 258-panel, 91-metre solar panel structure is capable of producing 60.6 kilowatt hours of electricity at solar noon on a sunny summer day, enough to power up to 10 homes in the community.
Myra Berrub, manager of energy services for the corporation, said the project was expected to produce 57,500 kilowatt hours over the course of the year which is equivalent to shutting down the town's diesel plant for 2.5 days per year.
Fort Simpson was chosen as an ideal location because it is one of the sunniest parts of the territory, according to Tim Schulhauser, president of SkyFire Energy which won the bid on the project.
Strike talks loom
Talks between the Union of Northern Workers and the territorial government broke off March 1 after the two parties failed to reach an agreement during a collective bargaining meeting.
Both sides were seeking a mediator, however, Todd Parsons, president of the union, said a strike was a strong possibility.
The union's Feb. 29 proposal was looking for a 2.75 per cent increase in pay rates effective April 1, followed by a three per cent increase in 2013.
The two parties eventually settled on annual pay increases over four years of one per cent, 1.5 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 3.3 per cent.
Mackenzie Valley Highway reaches milestone
The Mackenzie Valley Highway project was ready to enter its final regulatory phase after a final project description report was submitted to David Ramsay, minister of Transportation, on March 5.
Reports had already been filed for the Gwich'in Settlement Area, Tulita district, Pehdzeh Ki (Wrigley), and K'asho Got'ine (Fort Good Hope).
The reports estimate the total cost of an all-weather highway from Wrigley to Inuvik at $1.7 billion.
Jim Stevens, director of the Mackenzie Valley Highway for the Department Transportation, said the GNWT would likely be ready to request funding from the federal government in two years, after environmental assessments are completed.
The expectation is that the GNWT and the federal government will split the cost of the road.
NWT debt-limit boost
Jim Flaherty, federal finance minister, announced a $225 million increase to the GNWT debt ceiling as of March 8.
The increase meant the GNWT debt limit rose to $800 million from $575 million.
Michael Miltenberger, the minister of finance for the GNWT, said the increase would help the GNWT fund infrastructure projects and cover unexpected expenses, such as fighting wildfires in the summer.
He predicted the government would be $515.9 million in debt by March 2012.
Fire department needs double
The Aklavik fire department was looking to double its number of volunteer firefighters. As of March 2012, the fire department had six volunteer firefighters in the community but 10 or 12 would be ideal for optimized safety, said Larry Noland, deputy fire chief.
The last fire in the community occurred Jan. 17, 2011.
Peter Archie, Aklavik's fire chief, said finding people interested in being volunteer firefighters isn't difficult, it's working training into their busy work schedules.
Mine training gets $200,000
A mine training program in the Deh Cho got a $200,000 boost from the federal government, to support training for job opportunities at the Prairie Creek Mine.
The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency allocated the funds through its Strategic investments in Northern Economic Development Program.
The Mine Training Society of the Northwest Territories, the organization which runs the program, planned to use the funds to purchase equipment required for a two-and-a-half-year training program.
The program is the result of a partnership between the society, the Canadian Zinc Corporation, Aurora College, Arctic Response, Dehcho First Nations, and the Deh Cho communities.
Power rate increase announced
The Northwest Territories Power Corporation announced a possible power rate increase effective in April.
The corporation submitted an application to the NWT Public Utilities Board March 23 requesting an interim rate increase of seven per cent.
The interim increase would be one of four increases requested in the corporation's general rate application, the first application filed in five years. It would apply seven per cent increases in 2012, 2013 and 2014 with another five per cent increase in 2015.
The compounded percentage would mean a 29 per cent increase over four years.
NWT musher makes history
Marie-Anick Elie of Inuvik made history after being the first woman to complete The Anchorage Fur Rendezvous World Championship Dog Race.
Elie finished in 10th place in what is considered to be one of the world's most challenge dog sled races.
The race took place from Feb. 24 to 26 in Anchorage, Alaska.
Elie started dog sledding in 2000 after moving to Inuvik from Quebec City and had been preparing for the race for three years.
Upcoming power rate increase alarms territory
The NWT Power Corporation has submitted a general rate application to increase power rates by nearly 30 per cent and NWT business owners and leaders are predicting residents of the territory will be hit hard by a jump in the cost of living.
Some business owners said their hands are tied with the 29-per-cent rise in power over four years and that the additional cost will most likely be passed on to their customers.
In addition to fuel costs, the power corporation said one-third of the increase over the next four years is due to capital additions, largely improvements or replacements for aging infrastructure.
The date requested for the first phase of the increase was April 1. The last general rate application took place five years ago.
Chipewyan dictionary launched
A hardcover book featuring English-to-Chipewyan translations of close to 6,000 words was unveiled in Fort Resolution this month.
The GNWT contributed $92,000 to the project which was led by the South Slave Divisional Education Council, and the Dene Cultural Institute with the help of eight elders from Fort Resolution. The project also includes a CD so people can hear how words are pronounced. The dictionary also contains sentences and conversations so learners of the language can obtain a fuller understanding of its use in everyday life.
At the dictionary's launch, copies were distributed to every family to take home. The project was in the works for almost three years.
New app for Dene languages
Those in possession of touch-screen technology platforms such as the iPad and iPhone gained the opportunity to download the first Dene language applications. The apps became available for free from iTunes this in April.
Each language app contains about 500 words and phrases and contain features that help users learn vocabulary, pronunciation and reading. There are also quizzes and games for additional learning techniques.
The first five languages available in the applications are Tlicho, North Slavey, South Slavey, Gwich'in and Chipewyan, although according to the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, the goal is to release applications for all nine aboriginal languages spoken in the NWT.
The project is a joint effort between ECE and the Dene Cultural Institute.
Mackenzie Gas Project loses funding
Partners of the Mackenzie Gas Project announced they were reducing their spending due to the low price of natural gas prices.
The reduction in Mackenzie Gas Project spending will include the closure of offices in Fort Simpson and Norman Wells, and a reduction in the size of the office in Inuvik.
Premier Bob McLeod said the partners in the project are still committed, and the project may be delayed, but it is going ahead. McLeod also said market signals indicate the price of natural gas will go up by the year 2020, the year the pipeline is expected to be in operation.
Fort Resolution gets a restaurant
The hamlet is gearing up for the opening of its first restaurant in years.
Toni Lafferty is getting ready to open the doors of Ama's Kitchen - named after her mother who was fondly called Ama, the Chipewyan word for grandmother.
The restaurant is in leased space attached to the DKDC Store - the former Stan's Quick Stop now owned by the Deninu Ku'e Development Corporation.
Lafferty opened the restaurant during Fort Resolution's Spring Carnival where it was well received.
Enbridge wraps up clean up
After a substantial oil spill last year near Wrigley, Enbridge Pipelines Inc. is finishing up its cleanup of the 8,980 tonnes of contaminated soil in the area. The soil was shipped to a landfill site in northern British Columbia for processing.
The leak occurred in May 2011 in the company's pipeline that runs from Norman Wells to Zama, Alta.
In the spring, re-vegetation, tree planting and weed monitoring will begin at the spill site and continue into the summer.
Enbridge will continue to report its findings to the National Energy Board and other regulators.
New long-term care facility in Behchoko
Shovels were in the ground in Behchoko to begin construction of a new long-term care facility to replace the Jimmy Erasmus seniors home. The new facility will have twice the capacity of the older building and is expected to open by September 2014. The project holds a price tag of about $12 million.
The new building will house up to 18 elders and employ about 27 people. The Jimmy Erasmus seniors home employs 13 people and houses eight elders at a time.
The GNWT opted for a replacement of the Jimmy Erasmus seniors home rather than an update because it would be more economical.
New rent scale introduced
The NWT Housing Corporation brought forward a new rent scale in April, spearheaded by the GNWT's new housing policy.
Starting on July 1, rent is now based on the gross household income of all household members and will range between 4.2 per cent for low income tenants and 19.5 per cent for high income tenants.
Also, tenants living in larger centres now pay more than tenants in smaller, more remote communities.
With the new rent scales, a tenant's income can fluctuate without their rent fluctuating as well. In addition to the rent scale changes, the corporation announced it would be forming a five-person appeals committee to help tenants file complaints against them.
Alcohol abuse in Sahtu growing
There was a noticeable spike in alcohol abuse after Norman Wells residents voted to eliminate liquor restrictions in December, according to Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya.
Yakeleya said the vote should have gone out to all communities affected since the changes affect the entire region.
Yakeleya said he has been aware of more public drunkenness, absenteeism in schools and alcohol abuse in Colville Lake, Fort Good Hope, Tulita, Deline and Norman Wells.
Parks Canada cuts
May began with bad news for 65 Parks Canada employees across the nation's Northern territories. Staff were notified that they may lose their jobs or be otherwise affected by shortened work seasons. The employment changes affected about one-quarter of the NWT's 106 Parks Canada employees.
The. changes included either shortened work seasons for seasonal employment or job elimination for positions determined by Parks Canada as surplus.
Employees were also asked if they were interested in volunteering to leave their positions, so as to minimize the affects on those who wanted to stay.
The job cuts came in the wake of the federal government's decision to cut more than 19,000 jobs in public service and reduce overall spending on federal programs.
UN rules in favour of NWT woman
Cecelia Kell, an NWT woman, received a favourable ruling from the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women judgment she filed against the Government of Canada and its agents. It was the first of its kind.
Kell filed the case after a lengthy legal battle started in the early 1990s when Kell's ex-partner, William Senych, had Kell's name wrongfully removed by the NWT Housing Corporation from the lease, which certified their co-ownership of the Behchoko house they lived in. At the time, Senych was serving as the director of the housing authority.
Kell filed legal action in 1995 and Senych died later that year and further delays resulted in the Supreme Court ruling against Kell for not pursuing the claim diligently and ordered her to pay all the resulting legal fees. Two recommendations of the CEDAW report included improved legal aid available to aboriginal women through a review of the current legal aid system, as well as by recruiting and training aboriginal women to work in legal aid.
The United Nations has required the Canadian government to submit a report regarding any action taken in response to these recommendations within six months.
Teacher scheduled to stand trial
Former Inuvik school teacher Hugues Latour was ordered to stand trial for charges including sexual assault and sexual interference with a minor. Deciding there was enough evidence to warrant a Supreme Court judge and jury trial.
Latour, 39, was earlier found not guilty of forcible confinement and assault, after the judge stated that too much doubt had been raised at trial by the conflicting testimony given by Latour and the complainant to enter a conviction on either charge.
He was also found guilty and was sentenced to 60 days in jail in relation to other charges of assault, forcible entry and failing to follow court conditions.
Lafferty removed from portfolio
Premier Bob McLeod moved the Public Works and Services portfolio to Minister Glen Abernethy from Minister Jackson Lafferty. McLeod said the decision was made in light of a planned workload review and would allow Lafferty to focus more closely on education.
"Education is a very important portfolio so I wanted to put an increased focus on it and also to balance the workload with Minister Abernethy." McLeod said at the time, adding that Lafferty was not given a new portfolio in replacement due to the demands of his current roles as deputy premier, minister responsible for Worker's Safety and Compensation Commission, and minister of Education, Culture and Employment.
Northern leadership program cancelled
The end of the 2011-2012 school year marked the termination of the Western Arctic Leadership Program in Fort Smith.
Since its beginnings in 1990, the program has attracted students from all over the Northwest Territories to develop leadership skills and attend Paul William Kaeser High School.
"This will be the last year," said Jay Macdonald, a house parent with WALP. "The program will close in June."
The upcoming closure is basically due to insufficient funding to run it properly.
Students, both past and present, staff and community members said the loss of the program was a negative for community students looking for education opportunities and the community which would no longer benefit from the volunteer work many of the students attending the program engaged in.
Fort Smith workers vote to strike
A strike began involving employees at the Town of Fort Smith began. On May 10, more than 90 per cent of the town's workers voted to strike after the town and the union failed to come to an agreement about the town's plans to allow some community services to be contracted out.
Nahanni Butte evacuated
Nahanni Butte was evacuated on June 9 because of high water levels and the risk of severe flooding. Helicopters and airplanes were used to evacuate the majority of the community's 100 residents. They were transported to Fort Simpson, where the recreation centre had been turned into an emergency shelter.
Water levels on the Liard River began to rise significantly on June 7. The river level rose to just under 10 metres from approximately 6.5 metres, according to data from Environment Canada's website. On June 10 the ferries at both the Liard River and the Ndulee crossing were closed due to rising water levels and debris.
Fort Smith council shakeup
A councillor and a senior bureaucrat at the Town of Fort Smith were forced from their position at the beginning of June.
Coun. Sheila Sauteur-Chadwick was removed from her position after not being heard from since the previous December.
"We're unaware of where she is or her involvement with council. We've received absolutely no communication," said Mayor Janie Hobart, noting she is not aware if Sauteur-Chadwick was even still in the community.
During the same time period, the town terminated the employment of senior administrative officer Brenda Black, who was hired in February of the previous year.
Council dismissed Black at a meeting on June 5.
Hobart said the dismissal is unrelated to charges laid against Black last year in Ontario.
In September, 2011 she was charged with fraud under $5,000 and breach of trust from her time as chief administrative officer with the Township of Georgian Bay.
Once in a lifetime sight
People in the NWT joined millions of others around the world on June 5 to gaze skyward for a rare occurrence in the heavens.
What got so many people looking up was the transit of Venus - a celestial event that will not happen again for another 105 years.
"So we might as well have a look at it while we get a chance," said George Kurszewski, one of dozens of people at a special gathering in Fort Smith to view the phenomenon.
The transit occurs when Venus passes between the Earth and the sun. As it does, the planet can be seen for over six hours as a dot crossing the face of our solar system's star.
Venus transits happen in pairs, which are separated by eight years. The first in the current pair of transits happened in 2004.
However, there are 105 years between pairs, meaning the next transit won't be seen again until 2117.
Hundreds of people gathered June 5 to help mark the 28th anniversary of the signing of the final Inuvialuit Agreement on June 5, 1984.
The final agreement was struck between the Government of Canada and the Committee for the Original People's Entitlement (COPE) after 10 years of negotiations.
Under the agreement, the Inuvialuit gained full control of 91,000 square kilometres of land, along with the right to hunt and harvest anywhere in their settlement area.
Gwich'in Tribal Council flips on devolution
In advance of the Gwich'in Tribal Council's election then-president Richard Nerysoo reaffirmed the Gwich'ins position to fight the territorial government in court in regards to the Devolution Agreement-in-Principle.
The Gwich'in Tribal Council took legal action because it believed the territorial and federal governments violated Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act by not appropriately consulting the Gwich'in Tribal Council before going forward with the agreement-in-principle last year.
Nerysoo said the council was concerned that the only way for them to have a voice at the negotiation table was to sign an agreement they were not happy with.
Following the tribal council's election that saw Nerysoo defeated by Robert A. Alexie, the council took the lawsuit back to its constituents. Following the meeting the council voted to drop the lawsuit and sign onto the agreement.
On May 26 Deline First Nation swore in Leonard Kenny as chief and eight new council members were elected.
"I felt very honoured," said Kenny. "I was excited. I was thinking about the challenges ahead of me but I also thought about my own personal experience ... I come to the position with experience so I felt good and comfortable."
Kenny said this election had one of the best voter turnouts to-date - 58 per cent - and he is glad to see voters taking their voting responsibility so seriously.
"We've been working on self-government for the past 15 years and that's one of the things I'd like to see done while I'm chief," he said.
Shell shortage saves geese
Some geese in the Beaufort Delta dodged a bullet last hunting season thanks to a shortage of ammunition. Goose hunting season was shortened in Paulatuk last year, said John Muffa Kudlak, president of the Paulatuk Hunters and Trappers Committee.
"The geese just left Paulatuk on their way to Sachs and one of the problems that we had this spring was that we had a shortage of ... shotgun shells from the NorthMart here so they were kind of limited with the amount the hunters could shoot," said Kudlak. "A lot of members in the community were waiting for shells and they haven't arrived yet."
Keyna Norwegian returned as chief of the Liidlii Kue First Nation in Fort Simpson. She received 61 votes in the June 11 band election. Olinto Beaulieu was her closest challenger with 47 votes.
Norwegian previously served as chief from 2003 to 2009. Jim Antoine, who most recently was chief, was elected to band council. He was joined by Steven Jose, Cynthia Browning, Jonathan Tsetso, William Cli-Michaud, Emma Amundson, Bertha Norwegian and Betty Hardisty.
College president resigns
Sarah Wright Cardinal resigned as president of Aurora College on June 13 to pursue a doctoral degree in education. Wright Cardinal, who was born in Fort Smith, was appointed on Aug. 24, 2009 to what was supposed to be a five-year term.
Sydney O'Sullivan, interim chair of the board of governors, said criteria for a new president will be decided by the board in the near future and the board will appoint an interim president to fill the position for three to four months.
Jane Arychuk was later hired to the president's position in December.
Pride committee founded
Public Service Alliance of Canada North announced that it was establishing an NWT committee intended to build a strong network of members who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered and advise the alliance on issues of concern within the workplace, union or community.
The alliance invited members who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered to attend the committee's founding meeting on July 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the PSAC boardroom.
The Tlicho Community Services Agency launched a Tlicho immersion kindergarten class pilot project at Elizabeth Mackenzie Elementary School.
Jane Arychuk, director of education for the Tlicho Community Services Agency, said the immersion class may extend to Grade 3 or Grade 4 if the school has the instructors, resources and community interest to do so in future years.
Tracks from the past
A paleontologist is 90 per cent sure impressions in rock along the Hay River just south of Enterprise are tracks created 360-380 million years ago by a large walking fish.
Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alta., made that assessment after examining the tracks on June 11.
Henderson believes, based on the age of the limestone rock, the impressions were likely made by a large lobe-finned fish called sauripterus, which was up to six-metres long. Those animals lived long before dinosaurs.
"I'm convinced it is a track way," he said of the impressions in the rock above Alexandra Falls at a public presentation at NWT Centennial Library in Hay River on June 11. "They're not random erosional features."
Henderson said the tracks are an interesting and important find. The world's only other example of such tracks by large lobe-finned fishes from the Devonian Period is in Poland.
Tom Colosimo, manager of tourism and parks for the South Slave Region with Investment, Tourism and Investment said it is good to finally get some answers about the impressions in the rock, noting it is phenomenal for them to be tracks dating back 360 million years.
New airplane safety regulations
On July 4, Denis Lebel, federal minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, announced private turbine-powered and commercial airplanes with six or more passenger seats will have to be equipped with the terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS).
The system provides acoustic and visual alerts to a flight crew when an aircraft is likely to collide with terrain, water or obstacles - a situation that can happen when visibility is low or weather is poor. This gives the flight crew enough time to take evasive action.
Bison herd decimated
On July 3, 128 bison carcasses were found within approximately five square kilometres during an anthrax surveillance flight in the Mackenzie Bison Range.
Field tests were positive for anthrax, said Judy McLinton, manager of public affairs and communications for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
By the end of July, 431 bison carcasses had been found in the Mackenzie Bison Range, a region stretching from around Fort Providence to near Behchoko. The majority of the carcasses - 371 - were found in the Deh Cho Region of the range, near Fort Providence, said Judy McLinton, spokesperson for the GNWT Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
All animals affected by the outbreak were part of the Mackenzie Bison herd. When last surveyed in March, before the outbreak, there were approximately 1,440 animals, said McLinton. There is another survey of the herd scheduled for March 2013.
There was an extra special reason for celebration in Aklavik on Canada Day this year as Shaun Firth, 17, received the Bronze Medal for Bravery from the Royal Canadian Humane Association.
Last January, Firth, then 15, was visiting his friend Phillip Elanik, 33, at his home when the upstairs fire alarm went off. Firth and Elanik both ran upstairs to find one of Elanik's children in a smoky room and a mattress on fire.
While Elanik attempted to put out the fire, Firth ran the two children who were still in the house to a neighbour and ran to second neighbouring house to call the fire department.
He then returned to the house to help Elanik escape the fire.
Fort Smith's top citizens
Fort Smith's Citizen of the Year was Dixie Penner, while the Elder of the Year was Leon Peterson.
"It was a complete surprise," said Peterson of receiving the honour during the July 1 celebrations.
Mayor Janie Hobart said Peterson has been very active in many organizations over the years, pointing out he is a former town councillor, involved in the Fort Smith Curling Club and current president of the Fort Smith Seniors' Society. Penner, who has lived in Fort Smith since moving from Whitehorse in 1984, was instrumental in obtaining an animal shelter for the community more than a decade ago.
This is not the first recognition for Penner, who received the GNWT's Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2001.
Fishing returns to Big Fish River
Near the middle of July community members in Aklavik were informed they would once again be allowed to fish in Big Fish River this August for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Community members will now be able to harvest 150 Dolly Varden, a close relative of Arctic char and bull trout.
Funeral services held for Nicole Horassi
Funeral services were scheduled to be held in Norman Wells over the weekend of July 21 to remember Nicole Horassi, a 17-year-old girl whose body was found in the Mackenzie River July 13. Horassi went missing near Tulita on June 24.
More than 100 community members from Tulita, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope, Tsiigehtchic and Deline joined in the effort to find Horassi, patrolling rivers and shoreline for weeks.
Services were to be held at the community hall in Norman Wells, "We're expecting upwards of 150 people," said Heidi Hodgson-Deschene on Thursday.
Horassi spent a lot of her youth in Norman Wells with her father and his family, said Hodgson-Deschene. She will be buried in the Norman Wells cemetery alongside her grandmother and baby brother.
Earth swallows house
On July 17, Robert Ekinla was riding his quad to a popular recreational area outside of Fort Resolution.
When he rounded a turn in the gravel road as it neared the Slave River, he was shocked to see a gaping hole on the riverbank where a community cabin was supposed to be standing.
"No house. Holy smoke!" Ekinla recalled thinking.
The cabin, owned by the Hamlet of Fort Resolution, had fallen into the hole after the ground apparently collapsed beneath it.
The ground collapse is believed to have happened late on July 16 or in the early hours of July 17.
Water levels surge in Mackenzie Delta
Above-average water depths caused havoc along rivers in the Mackenzie Delta and a water surge caused significant erosion and added tonnes of extra sediment to the waterways, officials said.
One water event in the Delta caused the Peel River to rise to 10.1 metres on July 13 from 5.7 metres on July 11. By July 19, levels had dropped back down to 7.25 metres.
This rapid increase and decrease caused a significant amount of debris to enter the waterway, including a log cabin that was observed floating down the Peel near Fort McPherson July 12.
Chief Roy Fabian was re-elected chief of K'atlodeeche First Nation (KFN).
In the July 4 election, he easily defeated four challengers for leadership of the band on the Hay River Reserve.
Fabian received 107 of the 192 votes cast. Andy Cardinal placed a distant second with 29 votes, Alec Sunrise collected 28 votes, Joe Tambour took 18 and Shirley Lamalice received 10.
An election for a new band council had also been scheduled for July 4, but it was not necessary for anyone to cast a vote.
Four incumbent band councillors - Robert Lamalice, Pat Martel, Peter Sabourin and Raymond Sonfrere - were returned by acclamation.
The number of councillors was decreased for this election to four from six, and Lyle Fabian and Joe Tambour - who had served on the previous council - chose not to run.
Former McPherson mayor remembered
Philip Blake, who died at the age of 71 on July 1, was remembered by the community as a multi-term mayor, councillor, owner of a taxi business, revered hunter and fisher, and an outstanding canoe captain.
Peter James Vittrekwa said the team Blake lead to victory in 1970 during the Centennial Canoe Race is still remembered by not only residents of Fort McPherson, but in many communities around the territory.
"On council, he wasn't afraid to speak, and being an original member, he knew what was needed in the community," he said.
His funeral was held July 5.
NWT food producers received a boost back in July.
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada sent out a request for proposals July 9 titled Understanding Sustainable Northern Greenhouse Technologies for Creating Economic Development.
The project, funded through the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's Aboriginal Agricultural Initiative, aims to look outside of food subsidy programs such as Nutrition North and examine how more food can be produced closer to the homes in which it is consumed.
The in-depth look at how to create economically sustainable, energy-efficient greenhouses in the North is scheduled to be completed by March 31. Following the study, recommendations will be made on how to advance the idea.
NWT crime rate remains high
Canada's crime rate is decreasing, but not in the Northwest Territories, according to data recently released by Statistics Canada.
Numbers from the report revealed that the Crime Severity Index (CSI), which is used to calculate the severity of crime, stayed the same in the Northwest Territories between 2010 and 2011.
Canada's CSI decreased by nearly 30 per cent since 2001. In the Northwest Territories, incidents of crime increased to 3,311 incidents in 2010 from 1,957 incidents in 1998, according to the Northwest Territories Bureau of Statistics.
Californian woman donates aboriginal artifacts
Since 1989 Gwen Tremain Runyard donated 12 aboriginal-made items to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, including 100-year-old moosehide jackets, moccasins and a porcupine quill belt.
The collection was put on display in June and Runyard, who lives in California, came to Yellowknife to see it for the first time.
Runyard inherited the collection from her English-born missionary parents, Rev. Walter and Lottie Tremain. The family was stationed in Fort Norman, now Tulita, and later Fort Simpson from 1914 to 1919. Later they moved back to England and then to New Zealand where Runyard was born.
The exhibit also featured photographs of the areas, taken by Lottie Tremain between 1914 and 1919, moosehide and velvet mittens, a model-sized canoe, toboggan, snowshoe, an ice scoop, and a baby rattle.
There is also a strange addition to the exhibit: a velvet shelf valance with a daffodil embroidered on it. An aboriginal woman, who had never seen a daffodil since they don't grow near the Arctic Circle, made the piece, Runyard said.
The woman created the valance after seeing a picture in one of her mother's copies of Mission House magazine.
Fort Smith strike ends
A 15-day strike by municipal workers in Fort Smith came to an end.
The striking employees voted to ratify a new three-year collective agreement on Aug. 1.
Approximately 50 workers walked off the job on July 18 and returned on Aug. 2.
In the new deal, the union was successful in achieving its no contracting out language. Contracting out was the main issue in the strike.Mayor Janie Hobart said she is glad the strike is over and the town can resume normal operations.
She said the town agreed to the union's no contracting out language with a notwithstanding clause that allows for consultation, because there may be times when contracting out is a requirement.
Peel River dispute
A resolution calling for the protection of the Peel River Watershed was passed during the Gwich'in Gathering in Fort McPherson on July 24.
"The Gwich'in people would like to see full protection of the Peel River Watershed from industrial activity and infrastructure," the resolution stated.
In August, James Andre, a member of the elders' council and the Tetlit Gwich'in Renewable Resources Council in Fort McPherson, said possible legal action could be taken against the Yukon government if it fails to adequately protect the area.
"I think we have legal grounds to fight it, too," said Andre. "You don't want to go there, but if we have to, that's what's going to happen."
While First Nations governments originally wanted 100 per cent protection, Andre said he believes 80 per cent is a compromise - but added that's as low as they are willing to go.
"We're not going lower than 80 per cent," he said.
Medical community meets in Yellowknife
Dr. Anna Reid, a NWT physician and the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association, hosted about 300 physicians from across Canada in Yellowknife from Aug. 12 to 15 for the 145th annual conference of the Canadian Medical Association.
Reid used the meeting to discuss medical issues on both the national and territorial stage.
Reid, who has worked as an emergency physician at Stanton Territorial Hospital since 2008, said solutions to health-care issues all over Canada do not necessarily require more money, but smarter spending.
Mixed reaction to new national park
Canada's newest park, the N‡‡ts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve, failed to include crucial habitat areas, such as caribou calving grounds and grizzly bear denning sites, said a national wilderness advocacy group when the park opened.
"There is extensive science and research that went into assessing the region," said Kris Brekke, executive director of the Northwest Territories chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). "It all suggested these areas be protected."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the creation of the park on Aug. 22 while visiting Norman Wells as part of his annual Northern tour.
Brekke said while the organization is pleased it has been created, the park's boundaries leave out important areas, including a large portion of the Nahanni woodland caribou herd's breeding grounds and tributaries that feed into the South Nahanni River.
Tom Hoefer, executive director of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, said the chamber supported the boundary, adding mineral extraction is vital to the economy.
"They're the backbone of our economy," Hoefer said. "High mineral potential is also rare in the country."
Fort Smith arsonist sentenced
A Fort Smith man was sentenced Aug. 22 after being convicted of arson in connection with a New Year's Day fire.
Lyndon Tyrell McKay, 19, was handed five months in jail by Judge Garth Malakoe in Fort Smith Territorial Court.
That sentence was reduced by 94 days because of the time McKay spent in custody prior to being sentenced.
He will also be on probation for a year upon his release.
McKay pleaded guilty in May to a charge of arson in connection with a fire that heavily damaged a building in Conibear Park on Jan. 1. The building was later removed from the municipal park after being deemed a safety hazard as a result of the fire.
Canol Youth Leadership hike reaches seven years
The Canol Youth Leadership Hike celebrated its seventh year last year.
Myles Erb has been a part of the adventure every step of the way.
Erb, who is now 22, said he went on the first hike as a teenager just to explore the Mackenzie Mountains on the other side of the Mackenzie River from his hometown of Norman Wells.
"What keeps me going back is I just love the program," he said. "I love the wilderness out there. I learn something every time I go."
Learning was one of the ideas behind the creation of the hike by Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya.
In seven years, 43 hikers have gone on the journey. Almost all have come from the five communities of the Sahtu region, with the occasional hiker from Yellowknife.
From Aug. 10 to 15 participants from Fort Good Hope, Tulita and Norman Wells hiked the trail.
Yakeleya said he has organized the hike since the beginning with the help of volunteers, including Erb. "He walked the trail with me for seven years, so now I'm going to be pushing him to start co-ordinating it," the MLA said.
Erb, who helps lead the hikers on the trail, appears more than willing to become co-ordinator next year, in addition to his job with the recreation department of the Town of Norman Wells.
"I just want to take more of an administrative role," he said. "I want to become more of a leader inside the program."
However, Yakeleya said turning over the lead role to Erb will not mean he intends to stop going on the hike every year."
Daycare subsidy hiked
The GNWT upped the subsidy it offers to help some parents pay for daycare. The increased rates under the Child Care User Subsidy Program became effective Sept. 1. The subsidy is to assist parents who are either working or attending school full-time.
The increases were the first since the program began in 1999. In the 2011/2012 fiscal year, 59 families - and 80 children - accessed the subsidy. It is available for both licensed and unlicensed daycares.
On Sept. 3, Yellowknife resident Robin Imbeault, 22, hit a bumpy stretch of road about halfway between Behchoko and Yellowknife, causing him to lose control of his Jeep and hit a rock face next to Highway 3.
Suffering a number of injuries, he realized he was off the highway and out of view of passing motorists.
After about a half hour, a passing motorist heard Imbeault's calls for help. That driver was Education, Culture and Employment Minister Jackson Lafferty, who offered assistance and used his satellite phone to call for help.
Imbeault and his family now consider Lafferty a hero.
Inuvik Food Bank vandalized
The Inuvik Food Bank was struggling to pick up the pieces after being vandalized in the early morning hours of Sept. 9.
"It's just devastating," said Anne Church, a food bank volunteer. "They came in and just destroyed it."
Bottles of spaghetti sauce were smashed on the floor. Bottles of pasta were opened and thrown everywhere. Light bulbs were removed from their fixtures and broken. Someone even took the time to pour sauce into desk drawers.
The vandal or vandals also broke four windows at the Inuvik Centennial Library.
First fall fair in Enterprise
For the first time, Enterprise held a fall fair in 2012. The Sept. 15 event at the Enterprise Community Centre attracted participants from Enterprise, Hay River and northern Alberta.
Organizers of the fall fair were pleased and surprised by the turnout of participants and people who showed up to check out the produce, crafts and more.
The idea for the event originated with crafts created by children during summer programming offered by the Hamlet of Enterprise.
Called by God
Hay River resident Georgina Bassett became the first person of Slavey heritage to be ordained an Anglican priest.
She was ordained on Sept. 16 at St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Hay River. Bassett, who was ordained a deacon in the Anglican Church in 2009, is a member of K'atlodeeche First Nation on the Hay River Reserve.
She owns and operates a fuel delivery company with her husband. Bassett was not sure whether she would become a full-time minister following the retirement of Rev. Vivian Smith at St. Andrew's Church.
GNWT consults on budget
Finance Minister Michael Miltenberger embarked on regional tours to consult people on this coming February's territorial budget. It was the first time the GNWT had taken its budget consultations to seven regional centres - beginning in Inuvik on Sept. 17 and wrapping up in Yellowknife in October.
Miltenberger said NWT residents were being asked for advice and support to make the tough choices to build a strong, sustainable economy.
In previous years, budget consultations were held in Yellowknife and people were invited to attend from the communities.
Colville school gets toilets
For the first time since it was built, toilets and running water replaced honey buckets and hand sanitizer at Colville Lake School. Proper bathrooms were installed earlier in the fall and the school held a grand opening - complete with a ribbon-cutting and inaugural toilet-flushing - on Sept. 19.
The school now has separate bathrooms for boys and girls, although the portable for kindergarten to Grade 4 still has a honey bucket.
Those students in the portable go to the main school building when they need to go to the bathroom.
Teddy bears burned
A display of teddy bears along Highway 5 met a fiery end on the Sept. 22 and 23 weekend. Based on evidence at the scene, about 175 km northwest of Fort Smith, someone took the teddy bears and assorted stuffed toys - roughly 100 in all - piled them behind the chairs and benches on which they were sitting and set themablaze. Only about a half-dozen teddy bears escaped the destruction.
The first teddy bear appeared at the site five years previously and people gradually added to the display.
After the destruction, Fort Smith residents began to replace the teddy bears.
Deputy mayor resigns
Jim Dives resigned as deputy mayor of Enterprise over council's handling of a decision not to renew the contract of the community's senior administrative officer (SAO). Dives, who remained a councillor, resigned at council's Oct. 1 meeting.
In a letter of resignation, he noted no action had been taken by council as a result of a legal opinion about possible conflict of interest in the job evaluation of the SAO. Dives could not offer further explanation because the discussion took place in-camera.
GNWT top employer
The GNWT was declared one of Canada's Top 100 Employers when Mediacorp Inc. released its annual list on Oct. 10. Of the eight categories companies were judged on, the GNWT received an A grade in financial benefits and compensation and a B+ grade in community involvement, health and family-friendly benefits, and work atmosphere and communications.
Coroner report on death
An Oct. 12 coroner's report on the death of two-year-old Delaina Klondike on Dec. 1, 2011, recommended installing and funding automated weather stations to prevent delays in medevac dispatching.
There was almost a five-hour delay between when a medevac was ordered for Klondike and when an airplane could leave Yellowknife. Dispatchers were unable to obtain a weather report from the community aerodrome radio station in Fort Liard because it was closed until Dec. 2. A pilot overnighting in Fort Liard was located and provided the required information.
The toddler died 30 minutes after arriving at hospital in Yellowknife.
Residential schools in class
For the first time in Canada's history, learning about the legacy of residential schools became required learning in both the NWT and Nunavut. In early October, the GNWT's Department of Education, Culture and Employment officially launched the curriculum in a co-ordinated effort with Nunavut's Department of Education.
As of the fall semester, the second unit of Grade 10 northern studies - a course all students must complete in order to graduate high school in the NWT - focused on residential school.
Superbug rates rise
There were approximately 126 reported cases of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, also known as 'superbugs,' reported by the end of August, according to the NWT's chief public health officer.
The Tlicho and Beaufort Delta regions had the highest number of cases. Dr. Andre Corriveau said the health department began tracking incidents in 2007 and there were "close to none" reported that year. In the past, cases were usually limited to hospitals and health care facilities.
Former premier now mayor
Former NWT premier Floyd Roland returned to politics in October, although on a local scale. Roland was elected the mayor of Inuvik in municipal elections on Oct. 15.
"I think my experience goes a long way," he said at his victory party. "I always told people, 'Good news or bad news, I'm coming back home," he said.
New mayors were also elected in three other NWT communities - Brad Brake in Fort Smith, Harold McGregor in Norman Wells and Andrew Cassidy in Hay River.
The first edition of the Aboriginal Head Start child-centred curriculum was launched on Oct. 17.
The program began in 1996 with 12 pages of principles and guidelines, but now has two volumes of a possible 10 in the first edition pilot curriculum titled Making a Difference in the Northwest Territories.
The curriculum allows each Aboriginal Head Start site to build its own program through six components: aboriginal culture and language, education and school readiness, parental and family involvement, health promotion, nutrition, and social support.
More than half of the money the GNWT spent on contracted goods and services for the 2010-2011 fiscal year did not go out to competition.
The government doled out almost $200 million in sole-source and negotiated contracts.
The spending went to a range of services from communications work to housing development, and was issued to both northern and southern businesses. Total contracts were valued at nearly $365 million.
On Oct. 22, Deh Gah School in Fort Providence opened a time capsule that had been closed 20 years earlier. The chains around the blue Rubbermaid tub were removed.
Inside, there were dozens of letters, a Johnny Landry record, a handmade dog harness, a copy of News/North, drawings by young students, a hamlet newsletter and a Billy Ray Cyrus cassette.
The time capsule was created in 1992 for a ceremony in which the school's name was changed from Elizabeth Ward School to its current title.
A pumpkin-less Halloween
Ulukhaktok's community hall was decorated as a haunted house for Halloween, but without any jack-o'-lanterns.
Nutrition North, a federal food subsidy program for isolated Northern communities, doesn't subsidize pumpkins.
Since pumpkins are heavy and mainly decorative, the community went without the novelty for Halloween.
"A pumpkin would cost $80 or something like that," said recreation co-ordinator Joanne Ogina.
Bison harvest cancelled
All harvesting of the Mackenzie bison herd was stopped, effective Nov. 1, according to an announcement by Environment and Natural Resources Minister Michael Miltenberger. During an anthrax outbreak in the summer, the herd lost at least 440 animals, leaving its population at less than 1,000 animals. In August, all limited entry draw tags and outfitted tags were rescinded and on Oct. 5 all harvesting was closed in the area between Frank Channel and Yellowknife.
Dogs attack woman
A woman suffered wounds to her forearms, legs and scalp when she was attacked by dogs in Fort Liard. The attack occurred on Nov. 10 when the woman, a nurse at the Fort Liard Health Centre, was walking along a road near the hamlet's airport. At least two dogs were involved in the attack, according to the RCMP.
The dogs were walking off leash with their owner at the time of the incident. The injured woman was medevaced to Edmonton for treatment.
Untimely deaths higher for men
Males in the NWT are more likely than females to die an accidental death or commit suicide, according to a report from the coroner's service. It released a review examining 879 deaths in the territory between 2001 and 2010. The report showed there were 217 accidental deaths in that time period. The majority of the people who suffered accidental deaths were male at 77 per cent. There were 84 suicides, of which 68 were committed by males.
Caribou numbers up
A weak recovery in the NWT caribou population means hunting restrictions will remain in effect, according to Environment and Natural Resources Minister Michael Miltenberger. Preliminary numbers for a barren ground caribou study showed most herds' populations had increased, although slightly, since a 2009 study. The population of the Bathurst herd rose to 35,000 from 32,000 in 2009, while the numbers for the Bluenose-West herd increased to 20,000 from 18,000 in 2009.
Bulatci appeal dismissed
The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application for appeal by a man convicted of the 2007 killing of a Mountie in Hay River. Emrah Bulatci, a drug trafficker from Edmonton, was found guilty in 2009 of first-degree murder in the death of Const. Christopher Worden.
The court rejected the application to appeal on Nov. 15, but did not provide any reasons. Bulatci is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
Metis elects new president
Garry Bailey of Fort Resolution was elected the new leader of the Northwest Territory Metis Nation. Bailey was elected president on Nov. 29 at an annual general assembly in Hay River.
After failing to be re-elected president, Betty Villebrun of Fort Smith was chosen vice-president.
The new executive also includes secretary-treasurer Danny Beck of Hay River. The 39-year-old Bailey is also president of the Fort Resolution Metis Council and mayor of the Hamlet of Fort Resolution.
The annual general assembly also unanimously passed a motion approving an agreement-in-principle on land and resources with Ottawa and the GNWT.
Deh Cho Bridge opens
With the slice of a ribbon, the Deh Cho Bridge opened on Nov. 30, linking the North to southern Canada across the Mackenzie River for the first time.
After an estimated $202 million, four years of construction and 10 years of planning, studying and organizing the most expensive public transportation infrastructure project ever taken on in the NWT, the bridge is now a permanent link connecting the residents north of the river to the south.
College president named
Jane Arychuk was named president of Aurora College, effective Dec. 1. Since July, she had been interim president of the college following the resignation of previous president Sarah Wright Cardinal. Arychuk worked for 23 years as a community educator and principal in Fort Providence. For the previous seven years, she worked as campus director of the college's Yellowknife North Slave Campus and as vice-president of community and extensions.
Her hiring as president was announced on Dec. 5 by Education, Culture and Employment Minister Jackson Lafferty and Sydney O'Sullivan, chair of the board of governors of Aurora College.
New chief acclaimed
Band Councillor Fredrick Andrew Wanderingspirit was acclaimed chief of Smith's Landing First Nation. Wanderingspirit was the only candidate for a byelection to find a new chief when nominations closed Dec. 3. Wanderingspirit became eligible to take office on Dec. 18, the day after the byelection was planned. The byelection became necessary with the resignation of former chief Cheyeanne Paulette in October. Wanderingspirit will serve out Paulette's term, and an election for chief and council will be held in June of 2013. Smith's Landing First Nation has its reserve land just south of the NWT-Alberta border at Fort Smith.
Don't drink on council
Elected officials in Whati will face disciplinary action if caught with alcohol in the dry community. Council passed the Councillors Conduct Bylaw on Dec. 3 enabling the community government to punish council members or the chief if they break liquor prohibition rules. The bylaw states that, if caught with alcohol or illegal substances, councillors can be removed from committees, denied approval to travel on municipal business and have their monthly honorariums suspended. Penalties can be imposed for one month or until the offender's term of office ends. It is believed to be the first such bylaw in the NWT.
Runoff vote breaks tie
Salt River First Nation finally got a full council. On Dec. 5, Judith Gale won a runoff vote against Jeannie Marie-Jewell to the take the last seat on council for the Fort Smith-based band. Gale collected 150 votes, compared to 101 for Marie-Jewell, a former
Thebacha MLA and territorial cabinet minister. In an election for six councillors in September, the count on election night determined Gale collected 99 votes for sixth place and Jeannie Marie-Jewell was just behind with 98 votes. However, a recount later determined the two had tied with 99 votes each, which resulted in the runoff vote.
History award for teacher
Fort Simpson educator Brian Jaffray was recognized for his work on a project that engaged Deh Cho students with learning about the Berger Inquiry of the 1970s. Jaffray was one of seven recipients of the 2012 Governor General's Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The award honours the exemplary contributions of Canada's history teachers in both elementary and secondary schools. Jaffray received a gold medal and $2,500 during a ceremony in Ottawa on Dec. 10.
Rallies against federal bills
Carrying banners and flags, banging pot lids and shouting slogans, approximately 30 people marched in Fort Simpson on Dec. 10.
The Idle No More movement began in Saskatchewan to protest against legislation the federal Conservative government has put forward in Bill C-45 and other bills.
The movement's organizers say Bill C-45 is an attack on First Nations' rights and land and water across the country. Other rallies were held across Canada on Dec. 10, including in Yellowknife. As part of amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, thousands of lakes and rivers have been removed from federal protection.
Pellet plant gets go-ahead
After two and a half years of planning, Hay River businessman Brad Mapes finally received territorial government approval to embark on a wood pellet mill project.
Located on 130-acres, four kilometres north of Enterprise, the mill should be completed by next summer, with plans to start selling pellets by 2014.
The $11.5-million plant would start producing 60,000 cubic tons a year, increasing to cubic 100,000 tons in three to four years. More than 40 people will be employed at the Enterprise site, and an extra 150 jobs might be created in the region.
Economic consultation begins
A four-person panel, chaired by former premier Joe Handley, visited Fort Smith and Hay River in mid-December to collect input for the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy. The panel held public forums and meetings with town councils, chambers of commerce and other organizations. More public forums were planned early in 2013 in Fort Simpson, Norman Wells, Inuvik, Behchoko and Yellowknife. The strategy is expected to be completed by spring or summer.
First Nation wins $100,000
The Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation was named among the first recipients of a new monetary prize. The First Nation received a $100,000 share of the annual prize for its Thaidene Nene initiative, which aims to establish and manage a 33,000-square-kilometre national park on its land. The four winners of the inaugural $1 million Arctic Inspiration Prize were announced at a ceremony in December in Vancouver. The prize was founded by philanthropic couple Arnold Witzig and Sima Sharifi of Vancouver.
New cargo screening rules
As of Dec. 31, cargo on passenger flights leaving larger airports - including Yellowknife - will be subject to closer inspection. The change was made by Transport Canada to enhance air cargo security in response to possible threats to aircraft safety. The changes to Canada's Air Cargo Security Program applied to all cargo on passenger aircraft departing from airports where passengers and baggage are screened, regardless of the airport's geographic location.