New year’s baby

Denedeh-Rose Margaret Anderson was born in Yellowknife at 8:25 p.m. Jan. 1, the first child born in the city in 2021.

With the deferral of births from Stanton Territorial Hospital to Alberta facilities until at least February due to a staffing shortage, it’s an event that, barring an emergency delivery, won’t happen in 2022.

“We found that our baby, when we called out ‘Denedeh’ to her, that is what she responded to three times,” said mom Laurie-Ann Lines, a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health.

Female jail guard alleges gender-motivated mistreatment at work

A senior guard at North Slave Correctional Centre says she was left to fight off an attacking inmate alone because she is a woman.

Lisa Hann, who spoke as she was off work with pay through a Workers Safety and Compensation Commission claim, alleged she was also passed over for promotions because she’s a woman.

“I had no trust in my fellow officers or supervisors to assist me and I was being actively targeted by my fellow officers,” she said.

Don’t judge officials who travelled, says premier

Premier Caroline Cochrane urged residents to forgive and forget when news broke that senior bureaucrats, including the head of her new Covid-19 Secretariat, had travelled over the holidays.

Still: “I will be having conversations with all deputy ministers to ensure that when they’re making decisions about travel, that they’ve taken into consideration that we all must lead by example.”

She said it was important to remember than none of the bureaucrats had travelled internationally, and that they had followed their self-isolation protocols upon return. A spokesperson said no one in cabinet travelled outside the NWT during Donny Days, which in 2020 started on Dec. 23.

Teresa Patzer, left, gives chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola a shot of the Moderna vaccine in the Youth Centre in Wekweeti Jan. 13. NNSL file photo

Teresa Patzer, left, gives chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola a shot of the Moderna vaccine in the Youth Centre in Wekweeti Jan. 13. NNSL file photo

‘Marvellous’ feeling after vaccination

A resident at AVENS Manor told reporters it felt “marvellous” to be one of the first residents of the Northwest Territories to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Go get the vaccine as fast as possible,” Bruce Jonasson said Dec. 31. “It makes you feel good. It makes you feel like there’s progress in our abysmal lives.”

The vaccination blitz at the long term care facility began three days after the first shipment of 7,200 Moderna vaccine doses arrived in Yellowknife.

Air Canada halts service to YZF

Yellowknife’s airport was among a number across the country that Air Canada ceased serving due to the sharp drop in ridership caused by the pandemic.

Flights stopped Jan. 23. Passenger volume was down 80 per cent across the company’s network, according to a spokesperson.

“This underscores the urgent need to proceed with vaccinations as quickly as possible and for the GNWT to develop the Emerging Stronger (post-pandemic economic recovery) plan,” Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce president Tim Syer said.

Premier, pub owner in spat over Covid-19 ticket

The owners of the Monkey Tree Pub were issued a ticket for more than $5,000 over capacity breaches by a public health inspector Dec. 15, 2019.

Jennifer Vornbrock wrote Premier Caroline Cochrane directly to complain that the investigator in question was unfairly targeting her business and that he was no longer welcome on the premises.

The GNWT quickly pointed out Vornbrock had no authority to do so.

“… It is important for you to be aware that any public health officer validly appointed under the Public Health Act and with specific authorization provided by the chief public health officer to conduct compliance inspections, are entitled … to enter any premises at any reasonable time and without prior notification” to inspect it, Cochrane wrote in a letter to Vornbrock.

Cabinet not focused on business, say businesses

The NWT Chamber of Commerce was critical of Premier Caroline Cochrane and her executive council early in 2020.

Its president, Jenni Bruce, penned a scathing letter as the co-chair of the Business Advisory Council created by the GNWT itself. The 17-member council disbanded itself as a result.

“Disgruntled might be an extreme way of putting it, but there’s definitely frustration because these are frustrating times,” she said. “Anytime private industry goes up against government, private industry tends to move at a much faster pace.”

Yellowknife knitter Rhiana Bams was excited that her first published pattern is included in the new book Star Wars: Knitting the Galaxy. NNSL file photo

Contacting public health ‘not an option’ during vaccine rollout

“The public health department is occupied with a number of things,” territorial medical director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg said in the middle of January as she explained that contacting the department at the outset of its vaccine campaign would not bear any fruit for the caller.

“I booked online on Saturday afternoon and I haven’t had a response yet,” said Val Braden, a Yellowknifer who had a typically inconsistent experience with the vaccine appointment-making apparatus. Some who called for an appointment were met with a busy signal, others with a full voicemail box. Sometimes it just rang and rang.

“Everyone has been waiting but I’m not worried. I’m sure they’ll get back to me.”

Man gets 38 months for Canada Day sex assault

Frankie Eyakfwo was convicted of sexual assault for a fourth time after raping a stranger in an alley July 1, 2019. The judge hearing the case told him he was lucky the Crown had not sought a dangerous offender designation, which could have seen him jailed indefinitely.

Eyakfwo was sentenced to 38 months in jail. The assault came within weeks of his release from prison for a sexual assault in 2018.

“Particular care should be taken when he is eligible for release,” the judge said.

Council approves new pool design

With a $1.5 million waterslide concept added, the plan for a new pool in Yellowknife was approved by politicians Jan. 25.

The main pool would have 25-metre lanes, which isn’t enough, according to Coun. Neils Konge, who wanted a full 52 m length.

“The only reason we’re considering a 25-metre pool is because we don’t think the public will accept the cost and we just spent a million-and-a-half dollars more for a slide … building a pool that is not big enough right now would be disservice to the community.”

The next step was to ask residents to borrow up to $7 million to build the $57-million facility, a replacement for the aged Ruth Inch Memorial Pool. Residents went on to endorse the city borrowing as much as $10 million in a referendum in November.

City knitter ‘forces’ her way into pattern book

A Yellowknife knitting enthusiast’s science fiction-inspired cowl flew into a book of designs.

Rhiana Bams knitted the famed Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s Corellian cruiser from the Star Wars universe, into the warming garment. Her design was included in the book Knitting the Galaxy: The Official Star Wars Knitting Pattern Book.

The publisher of the book has a son who is “obsessed” with Yellowknife, so she started following Bams on Instagram. The Millennium Falcon cowl in fact is featured with a handful of other products on the book’s cover.

The rest happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Craig Gilbert

Craig is an award-winning journalist who has worked in Ontario, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alberta. He should be at least six feet away from you at all times.

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