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Student creates plan for GNWT to promote Enterprise fossil pit

Nicholas Graham, a Grade 6 student in Hay River, has received letters from two MLAs about his ideas on how to promote the fossil pit near Enterprise, and possibly create a tourism centre there. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Nicholas Graham, a Grade 6 student in Hay River, would like to see the fossil pit near Enterprise better promoted as a tourism attraction by the GNWT.

So the 11-year-old wrote Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson with his ideas in December, and he has received letters in return from both Simpson and Caroline Wawzonek, the minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

"It felt nice to be heard," Nicholas said of the return letters, which were both received on Feb. 17.

The young person had offered a number of suggestions for the fossil pit, including that the site off Highway 2 could become a tourism and educational attraction, and that a tourist centre could be built there. He also drew a map of what he imagined a tourist centre could look like.

"I even made a little floor plan," he said.

Nicholas also suggested to Simpson that the fossil pit could be pointed out with a sign at Enterprise saying that it was just one kilometre north of the community.

"This might be too much, but see if you can get it on Google maps and other GPS maps," Nicholas wrote. "It's a good place to learn about Devonian fossils."

Simpson wrote back to thank Nicholas for his letter.

"Your idea would be another great way to teach tourists and visitors about the geological history that you can see in fossil pits along the Hay River highway," wrote the MLA, who is also the minister of Education, Culture and Employment. "I'm impressed by the details you provided for a possible visitors centre and where the signs would go to show people the way. The Government of the Northwest Territories will keep this idea in mind when we think about new tourist centres in the Hay River area."

Simpson also wrote that he is encouraged when young people take the time to send ideas about how to showcase the natural history of the NWT.

Wawzonek also was complimentary of Nicholas' initiative.

"I commend you for thinking of this idea and this desire for an educational centre that highlights the natural attraction," she wrote. "It is wonderful to learn that you're interested in fossils and what they can tell us about ancient history. The Government of the Northwest Territories is very interested in developing tourism and education opportunities of the type you described in your letter."

Nicholas was encouraged by the responses, noting he hopes that a tourist centre for the fossil pit is something the GNWT would consider and possibly build sooner or later.

The student at Princess Alexandra School noted he enjoys hunting for fossils and he first went to the fossil pit near Enterprise several years ago, and has found up to 30 fossils there.

"I thought it was a really good place to find fossils," he said. "I found quite a lot."