Kam Lake, on the southwestern edge of Yellowknife is largely located in and around the largest lake – Great Slave Lake – within the city.
“Kam Lake has probably the biggest variety of people,” said candidate Cherish Winsor. “It has the whole business district that people think of but there is also tons of residential with housing co-ops, two apartment buildings and newer housing developments like Hall Crescent. There are tons of young families and people who have moved in recently and everyone from military to RCMP workers. So a huge huge variety.”
Caitlin Cleveland, who is well connected in the community, said she characterizes the district for its diversity.
“I have a very diverse riding,” she said. “It is really neat because it has a nice mould of everyone who makes up the NWT. It has everyone from nursing workers to students to business owners and I find that it is a true riding of friends, families and neighbours.”
Abdullah Al-Mahamud, a long time resident of the community, said the connecting with others is why he loves living there.
“In 2008 I moved into Demelt Crescent in Kam Lake and I came to know my neighbours and stuff and I think it is really unique in that sense,” he said.
Robert Hawkins described the district as a “working family neighbourhood with a heavy dash of industry and business.”
Cherish Winsor hit the ground hard on Sept. 2, having her papers signed early that Monday morning and door hangers on 600 homes by the end of the day. As a first time candidate, she said she made it all homes her first week comfortably and was beginning her second round this week.
“It has been good and a good start,” she said. “I’m having a lot of great conversations at at the door. We have been really, really busy with about a dozen questionnaires and preparing for a bunch of forums coming up, so we are hitting the ground running.”
Winsor said she has a solid team of all female volunteers assisting with matters such as phone calls and data entry and- with her five children helping – with door-to-door campaigning.
Some of the biggest issues she has been hearing so far concern issues in the media about the city’s the sobering centre and the GNWT not allowing students in French language schools. Other topics have included business concerns and the need for land to be opened for development.
“There has been a lot of talk about addictions treatment and social supports,” she said.
“I haven’t heard as much about the economy as I thought I would. It might be because of the places I have gone to.”
Winsor said she is likely to hold a meet-your-candidate type of barbecue event during the course of the campaign, however she is regularly holding a Coffee with a Candidate event at Tim Hortons every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and “Doggy Park Playdates” at the dog park behind the arena at 10 a.m.
She is sharing her 16-page campaign platform at doors this week, but is excited about the six-person race in Kam Lake.
“I think it is awesome that we have so much choice this time around,” she said. “We have a lot of ridings with just two people, but six people means we can really even the playing field and we can all be reviewed on own merits.”
Abdullah Al-Mahamud, a first time candidate in Kam Lake and long time businessperson and resident of Yellowknife, said he enjoyed his first full week of campaigning.
“It has been exciting and it is has been great connecting on different types of things and meeting people and so it has been great,” he said.
“It is like the old movie the Peaceful Warrior where in the dialogue they say, The journey is what brings us happiness, not the destination.”
Al-Mahamud said as a first generation newcomer to Canada, where he first came from Bangladesh in 1999, he is hoping to give back to Yellowknife constituents and help
solve some of the major issues of concern. In 2005, after stints in Regina and Winnipeg running convenience stores, he came to Yellowknife to operate Winks and later Mac’s.
When Yellowknifer spoke to Al-Mahamud earlier this week, he had completed door-to-door knocking at Demelt Crescent, Gold City and Inukshuk Housing Co-op and Williams Avenue.
He said among the big issues he has been hearing at the doors have had to do with housing.
“People are looking for help with housing shortages,” he said. It is a big problem with housing in the downtown core. Homelessness, also, is a problem. It is not just a problem up here, but all over the world. Downtown, my point has been that we need both governments need to come together and help each other and pinpoint what to do.”
Al-Mahamud said he does not want to be the candidate that has the answers to all problems, because there are more than one that people want addressed. However, he wants to make progress and represent a better connection between constituents and residents.
“I believe there is a detachment between the government and people … and I’m trying to close the connection gap,” he said.
“I am trying to run – not to solve all problems in Yellowknife – but I would like to solve one. I think if 19 people are elected, and if all 19 people can solve one problem each, Yellowknife (and the NWT) will be a very good place to live.”
Al-Mahamud has seven volunteers, including help from his family and he has online communication outlets such as a Facebook page as well as billboard signs and lawn signs but he said “nothing is better than the personal human touch.”
He holds barbecues every Saturday to meet candidates in the park area on Demelt Crescent, at 2 p.m. he said.
Rommel Silverio, a current Yellowknife city councillor and health care practitioner, said he has been “catching up” with the other candidates as he began door-knocking on Sept. 7.
“It has been a lot of work really,” he said. “There is a lot with connecting and leveraging with all different people, organizing and answering a lot of questions. Most organizations have sent a lot of questions who want to see candidates explain their views or commitments.”
Silverio said he has a wide range of supporters and volunteers offering help in one way or another.
“It is so sporadic, but my intent has been to go to the people who know me first and talk with them,” he said. “This second week my team is doing a layout for the whole area. We are then trying to subdivide the group so that we can hit all the residents.”
He has been getting support from friends and family and neighbours who know him well, but has also gotten help from members of the Yellowknife Philippine Basketball League team. Tasks have included helping to set up billboard and lawn signs as well as help with scheduling and preparing responses to questionnaires.
Silverio said he issues he has heard at the doors include the high cost of living and uncertainty about the future of the NWT economy with mines closing over the next decade.
He said because there are a number of health care professionals, including nurses who live in the district, and because he is running to improve retention and recruitment of health care workers, he is hearing this issue too.
Silverio has a meet-the-candidate event this Friday at Tim Hortons – similar to the style he held during his municipal campaign last year.
People travelling through Kam Lake will notice the purple campaign signs – both large billboard and lawn signs – were in the process of going up this week.
“I have been late and I’m trying to push all signs out and I’ve been grateful that people were offering their places to put one at their places (homes),” he said.
Silverio is using his Rommel Silverio for MLA Kam Lake Facebook page heavily to get his messaging out and is considering advertising in local media outlets.
Robert Hawkins, a former MLA for Yellowknife Centre, is seeking election in Kam Lake and he was out door-knocking from day one of the writ being dropped. He said campaigning again has been “very inspiring.”
“It has been exciting and we have been getting a lot of warm and receptive feedback and that is really key,” he said, noting there are still many residences to reach but he loves getting to doors and meeting with people.
“I barely have any skin left on my hands from shaking hands and my knuckles are raw from knocking on doors,” he joked.
The biggest issue that he has been hearing at the door is that people are looking for a change in MLA for the electoral district.
“For me, I’m hearing that people are looking for a change,” he said. “They are looking for someone who knows what they are doing in the sense of experience. And somebody who will work together to get stuff done. That has been a central theme on the couple of nights that I have been out.”
Hawkins said he has also heard that people are looking for help with the cost of living and one of the issues he has been pressing the introduction of a polytechnic university. Other issues that have caught his attention are the need for more affordable child care and more reasonable Internet service with unlimited data similar to other Canadian jurisdictions.
Hawkins said his communications tools to get his message out haven’t been out of the ordinary as he has large billboard signs and lawn signs in the district and also has a Robert Hawkins for Kam Lake Facebook page.
He noted that he has been trying to delegate the finances for his campaign responsibly and has avoided having a website as it is expensive.
A meet-your-candidate event is in the works but Hawkins said he hopes to announce it in the near future and work with a local business to host. Details about times and locations will be forthcoming, he said.
Caitlin Cleveland, a businesswoman, photographer and former public servant, was seen on Hall Crescent campaigning last week. She said her experience has been very good so far.
Since the writ dropped on Sept. 2, she has been out every night knocking on doors, except for the NWT Chamber of Commerce election forum on Sept. 10 and a wing night she hosted at Copperhouse on Sept. 11.
“The first week was great,” she said. “It is a lot of work to get out to everyone’s houses, but everyone was really receptive and really kind.
“I’m taking every opportunity to meet people.”
Cleveland has a team of about 40 volunteers made up of friends, family and neighbours who help with various tasks. She said she has a core team of helpers at the door, but said it is important to spread out the tasks to many people so that no one is overworked in the campaign.
“You can’t do it all alone and there are so many different jobs that need to be done. People have been helpful and absolutely appreciate the support in everything from picking my kids up from activities or helping drop signs off. It been a nice community experience.”
Issues she has been hearing at the door include affordability, public safety and difficulties navigating public services.
“Cost of living absolutely,” she said. “Public safety would be a close second. And people are saying that they want to know what resources, government programming and policies are available to them and how to navigate the system.”
With the wing night that she hosted, Cleveland has been hosting Saturday morning meet-the-candidate events at the Fieldhouse from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a..m. because she has been cognizant of young families who put their children to bed early and can’t necessarily answer the door at all hours of the evening.
“I also know it is very difficult to answer the door when you have kids and are bathing or you are making dinner,” she said. “In some cases, some people have second jobs after their first jobs. So the Saturday mornings are just as a secondary opportunity to connect.
“That way children can run around and (adults) can chat about what really matters.”
Cleveland has a number of communications tools to reach the public which include door knockers, daily social media postings on Caitlin Cleveland for MLA Kam Lake, and a website at http://caitlinclevelandmla.ca with her platform.
Testart, the one-term incumbent, got off to a “fantastic” first week of door-to-door knocking in the constituency.
“We touched base with a lot of supporters we’ve had over the years, heard good things at the door about the work that I’ve done over the 18th legislative assembly,” said Testart.
He said he has reached roughly 400 doors as of Wednesday, a number that is constantly expanding as he works to reach his constituents.
Issues people have raised have been the high cost of living, getting the economy back on track, and supporting Northerners who need help the most.
“I’ve also heard more concerns on sports and recreation, senior’s care that are more specific tied with cost of living,” said Testart.
Testart has a team of full-time staff including a campaign manager, IT professional, a database co-ordinator and five advisers to provide advice on questions from media and non-profit organization questionnaires. He also has 30 volunteers that help him work his neighbourhoods.
“I find that in territorial politics, the biggest impact you can make is being a candidate and talking with voters,” said Testart. “Without parties people need to know the candidates and the only way to get that input is to go to the door and get that input yourself. The most important thing a candidate can do is get out there, work hard, hit as many doors as they can and be available to residents of the riding.”
Testart will also be taking a different approach to events and signage than other candidates.
“What we’ve found is that drop-in style events aren’t getting enough attendance to make them worth while,” Testart said. “If someone wants to have a longer conversation, we can go over to their place and sit around the kitchen table and have a long conversation about the issue or we’ll go to door. Our focus is to bring our campaign to the Kam Lakers, not to have Kam Lakers come to the campaign.”
Testart will also be holding back on signage and printed literature, limiting it to where it is only the most necessary.
“Campaigns cost money and importantly signs don’t vote,” said Testart. “Political financing can be difficult and these elections can favour individually wealthy people. We’ve seen heavy hitters bring in a lot of money and use it on things like signage.”
Testart said he wants to bring the message to the people, especially through social media, which he sees as an effective engagement tool. He said his campaign is delivering most of it’s literature electronically, opting not to leave it on doorsteps.