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NWT Recreation and Parks Association brings back Walk to Tuk name

The NWT Parks and Recreation Association (NWTRPA) has the changed the name of its annual winter walking challenge back to its original name, Walk to Tuk.
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A public information session in Tuktoyaktuk on Dec 1, 2022. Photo courtesy of NWTPRA/Nuka de Jocas

The NWT Parks and Recreation Association (NWTRPA) has the changed the name of its annual winter walking challenge back to its original name, Walk to Tuk.

The organization announced the decision in a Nov. 6 news release, following an extensive review by an advisory committee.

“I want to commend the NWTRPA for having the foresight to create an advisory committee to review the walking challenge and ensure all the voices from across the NWT were heard,” said committee member Annie Steen. “The effort to include the Indigenous community’s participation, involvement and to listen to the recommendations are a true example of what reconciliation should look like. I hope more organizations can build on this.”

The walking challenge was called Walk to Tuk until 2021, when it was brought to NWTRPA’s attention that the name created an connection between the program and incident involving three young boys who tried to walk from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk after escaping from a residential school. Two of the boys, Lawrence Jack Elanik and Dennis Dick, died on their journey through the wilderness.

The goal of the organization’s review was to determine a new name for the program. It held three advisory committee meetings and two public information sessions throughout 2022 and 2023 to that end.

After the review, the decision was made to revert back to the original name for the challenge, though that decision was not made easily.

“In order to gain insight on the issue, the NWTRPA staff and a former consultant reached out to the individuals who brought forward the concern regarding the Walk to Tuk name,” the final report on the review explained. “Unfortunately, these attempts at contact were unsuccessful. Since we were unable to connect with these individuals, the WCAC members struggled with their decision to keep the Walk to Tuk name. The decision was based on what was heard during the stakeholder engagement sessions.”

The review process was designed in line with reference materials such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, and the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice, the news release explained.