Hay River’s interagency group – at which organizations meet to discuss various issues – is being revived after a couple of years of inactivity.
Beginning with initial meetings in the spring and resuming in September, the group is being reorganized by Bobbi Hamilton, the co-ordinator for Hay River Community Justice.
Hamilton is not yet ready to say that the informal committee is back up and operating.
“I think we’re back up and talking,” she said, noting participants are still just floating ideas back and forth.
“We’re making progress,” she added.
The interagency group was first formed in the spring of 2008 in the aftermath of the murder of Hay River RCMP Const. Christopher Worden in October 2007 and following a study of drug use among students at Diamond Jenness Secondary School.
Hamilton recalled there were close to 30 people at the first meetings back then.
And the interagency group remained functioning up to about three years ago.
“It started off really, really strong like anything does, and then eventually people sort of dropped out,” said Hamilton.
The interagency group also lost its main driving force in 2017 with the passing of Jill Taylor, the inclusive schooling co-ordinator with the South Slave Divisional Education Council.
“She definitely was the glue,” Hamilton said of Taylor.
Hamilton said no one else wanted to spearhead the committee.
“Then people were approaching me in the grocery store or phoning me, and saying, ‘We really need to get this going again,'” she said.
So Hamilton reached out to former participants by using the contact list on an old email that Jill Taylor had sent out.
“And so what I did was just forward that to everybody and said, hey, who’s interested and let’s see what we could do,” Hamilton said.
About 10-12 people showed up to a meeting in April and another in May. Monthly meetings were also held in September and October.
“Everybody seemed right into it,” said Hamilton.
Another meeting is set for Nov. 27.
Hamilton has no title with the interagency group, but she says she sends out emails about meetings and has an available meeting room at Hay River Community Justice.
She “definitely” thinks the committee is valuable for the community.
It’s a place to share information, she explained. “Which I think is the biggest thing, because then you’ve got not only one entity benefitting from it.”
The previous interagency group discussed a number of issues, including drug-free zones around schools. Plus, it was involved with the launch of the Not Us territorial campaign against illegal drugs.
Hamilton said an issue now is homelessness, especially the need for a men’s shelter.
Along with Hay River Community Justice, the revived interagency group includes organizations such as the RCMP, Public Health, Community Counselling, the Town of Hay River, NWT Housing Corporation, several schools, K’atlodeeche First Nation, and the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities.
The revival of the interagency group was mentioned at town council on Oct. 29 by recreation director Stephane Millette, who had attended one of its meetings.
“That committee hadn’t met in a while and it sounds like the meetings are going to start back up,” said Millette. “That’s a very good committee for all sorts of things around town.”
Coun. Brian Willows welcomed the return of the interagency group.
“I’m happy to hear that it’s up and running again,” said Willows.
Interagency groups also exist in about a half-dozen other communities in the NWT.
Kudos to Bobbi and all who continue to support this noble and worthwhile initiative. It’s important (especially for small, close-knit communities) to share vital information and stay on top of issues. Thank you to all of Hay River for continuing to remember Chris in the form of community vigilance.