Monkey Tree Covid-19 fine troubles chamber

The NWT Chamber of Commerce jumped into the corner of the Monkey Tree Pub, which was hit with a $5,175 fine by a Covid-19 enforcement officer.

“It is also concerning that the GNWT does not see the issue of a male in an authority position being aggressive and unprofessional to a sector that is 85-per-cent female,” then-Chamber president Jenni Bruce and then-executive director Renee Comeau wrote Jan. 27.

Premier Caroline Cochrane wouldn’t comment on the specific case but said it is “important for all businesses to comply with existing orders to protect their staff, their customers and the broader community.”

Bank swallowed

The GNWT was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine after it was found contractors hired by the Department of Infrastructure to prevent a batch of Bank swallow colonies off Highway 3 near Edzo from being disturbed during the 2018 construction season had actually done just that.

An Environment Canada biologist had photographed “multiple colonies” of the birds in May 2018. When the biologists returned weeks later, the birds were gone.

The fine wasn’t founded in an omission of responsibility but of terrible execution. The Crown noted that, ironically, if the government had not taken steps to protect the nests, they would not have disturbed them at all.

Snow crystals fall to the ground seconds after Rochelle Hilderman threw a Thermos of boiling water into the air, beside the ice road to Dettah on Feb. 6. It was during a frigid spell that brought -44 C temperatures. Photo courtesy of Rochelle Hilderman

Athletes call for review of Fieldhouse turf

It was an uncomfortable situation. Athletes were refusing to play at the Fieldhouse because the surface is too hard on their joints.

The surface of foam with nylon and polypropalene fibres, installed in 2009-2010, sits on a concrete slab.

“My ankles and knees are always killing me after a soccer game,” Blake Moulton said. “It’s almost after every game, and certainly the morning after a late one. It’s essentially concrete with a layer of green felt, so it’s painful to run on and even more so when you fall.”

Michael Vatour, an ultimate Frisbee player, noted that younger players’ bodies were “giving them the middle finger.”

Budget calls for 87 per cent more health workers

The GNWT’s 2021 budget projected a $69-million surplus and an 87 per cent increase in health and social services staffing. What a difference a few months makes.

The plan was to go from 182 positions in the Health and Social Services Department proper to 341, and from 1,645 positions in the Health and Social Services authorities to 1,755.

The Covid-19 Secretariat received the bulk of a $63-million increase to the HSS budget, or $35 million.

YK MLA, health minister lock horns

Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby was taken aback when Health Minister Julie Green, also a Yellowknife MLA, observed she must be “very gratified” by the “horror stories” of constituents trying to access mental health supports.

Opposing points of order ensued on that Feb. 10 day in the legislature. Green was forced to withdraw her comment after Nokleby claimed she had contravened the legislature’s rules by making an allegation against her and “imputing false motives.”

Norn lawyers up

Steve Norn, then-member of the Legislative Assembly for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, retained a lawyer in his dispute with Tim Mercer, House clerk.

On Feb. 15, Norn held a news conference at the Legislative Assembly calling for a third-party investigation into the conduct of Mercer.

His new lawyer, Steven Cooper reiterated some of the points made by Norn, including the member’s desire to fight what they described as bullying and what he believed is a toxic workplace at the Legislative Assembly.

Creepy cabbies worry women

A number of Yellowknife women shared disturbing accounts of inappropriate behaviour by cab drivers.

A Facebook post by Deanna Jumbo quickly elicited similar stories from other women. One, Kristine Marie, talked about a cabbie who followed her down the road after she left a downtown bar, kept her in his car for more than an hour despite her not being able to pay and inviting her back to his place as an alternative.

The cab company in question noted that Jumbo hadn’t contacted them to complain. Jumbo said she was already dealing with “victim blaming” associated with a pair of court cases she was involved with.

The more than 100 comments on the post and the ensuing media coverage inspired the Status of Women Council of the NWT to launch an online “taxi safety survey” for NWT residents.

The City of Yellowknife, meanwhile, said the bylaw governing taxi companies would be up for review for the first time since 2009. Mayor Rebecca Alty wouldn’t link the review of the livery bylaw to the fiasco.

Dog owner wrestles puppy from lynx

Shania Tymchatyn sits atop a lynx. Why, you ask? Because it’s Feb. 15 and the lynx has a grasp on her eight-pound, nine-month-old Shih-Tzu/Yorkie cross.

“All I remember is falling to the ground and pulling them apart,” she said of little Arlo and the lynx, which had been spotted elsewhere in Yellowknife earlier in the day. “I remember throwing my dog the opposite way from us and grabbing this animal by the neck and body and managing to get myself on top of it.”

Wildlife sightings within the city and encounters like Arlo’s should be reported to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources at 867-873-7181.

Shania Tymchatyn, with boyfriend Dave Gourlay holding Ella the Yorkie and Dillon the Rottie mix, pulled a lynx off her nine-month-old Shih Tzu/Yorkie, Arlo, in early February. NNSL file photo

YK Chamber touts policy ‘wins’

The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce was happy in February as it said the GNWT had adopted five of seven policy recommendations.

These included permitting alcohol sales alongside delivered food, the move to a “pay ASAP” approach to vendor invoices as well as a territorial top-up to the federal wage subsidy program created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic impact of the associated public health measures taken.

“The (Chamber’s) consistent and thoughtful advocacy has helped focus and shape our government’s supports,” Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said in response.

Cyber-bullying flourishes during pandemic

FOXY, or Fostering Open Expression Among Youth, expressed concern over the prevalence of online bullying as kids shifted to remote learning. The non-profit group said the practice has become normalized to the degree it isn’t viewed as harassment in many cases.

“In order to combat it we need to look at our behaviours and choices and think critically about how we work with and affect others,” director of programs Amanda Kanbari said.

Kandola expects NWT to achieve herd immunity before May

Dr. Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer, predicted 75 per cent of the adult population would receive its second shot of Covid-19 vaccine by May. At the time, the NWT was leading the country in the delivery of vaccine doses on a per capita basis. Also at the time, Kandola was treating the threshold of three-in-four adults being fully vaccinated as the measure for herd immunity in the NWT population, which would ostensibly pave the way for an easing of public health restrictions.

Elders face pandemic of abuse and neglect, MLA says

Ron Bonnetrouge, MLA for Dehcho, said in the legislature Feb. 25 that Elders in small communities were being neglected, their finances taken advantage of and their mental health abused.

“When people go out of town, they leave Elders at a friend’s home, and go away sometimes for several days with the Elder’s bank card. This is probably as prevalent in many small communities as it is in Fort Providence,” he said. “People don’t know where to turn for help.”

Additionally, he said social workers in the community turned concerned Elders away, saying they were focused on children and families instead.

This shocked Julie Green, minister responsible for seniors, who said the GNWT was engaged in a “jurisdictional scan.”

“We’re working with the NWT Seniors Society, who are the lead organization to prevent the abuse of older adults,” she said.

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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