Gathering limits eased

Groups of as many as 200 people were allowed to gather indoors after chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola revised her public health orders in the second Emerging Wisely plan, June 29.

High-risk activities like singing, dancing, handgames and funerals still required individual approvals from the OCPHO.

“NWT residents and communities are ready to get back to the life that we know and love,” Health Minister Julie Green said. “It has been a long 15 months for all of us.”

Travel restrictions loosened for vaccinated

Vaccinated individuals were permitted to return to the territory without isolating on June 21.

“We have always said we would ease public health measures when it was safe to do so,” Premier Caroline Cochrane said.

As vaccination rates rise in the NWT and Canada, “we’ll continue to see case counts drop and restrictions eased,” chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola said during a news conference at the legislature.

Hundreds march in Yk after residential school discovery

A march organized by the Dene Nation filled Franklin Avenue, June 4. It was a sight not seen since before the onset of the pandemic.

The event was motivated by the discovery of the remains of 215 children at an unmarked grave site at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

“Today, we are walking on new ground and a new path for ourselves,” Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya said. “We thank the children for waking up a nation of people across Canada to say ‘no more will we be treated this way.’”

A crowd of supporters filled the street on June 4 during a march organized by the Dene Nation following the discovery of a mass grave of 215 children at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. NNSL file photo

Former premier named in harassment lawsuit

Former Northwest Territories Premier Stephen Kakfwi was named in a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation.

The $1.25-million legal action, launched by Cherry Smiley, a former PhD candidate who was paired with Kakfwi as a mentor, alleged that the former premier rubbed her upper arm for an extended period during a goodbye, and invited her to visit him in Yellowknife.

‘Settler’ names for lakes to be replaced

The non-Indigenous names of hundreds of geographical features, such as lakes, could change in Akaitcho territory in the next two years.

Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty said the city’s goal is to rename lakes that have English names, including Kam, Frame, Long, Grace and Range Lake with Indigenous names by the end of the year.

Fred Sangris, a community negotiator with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, said other features like Franklin Avenue were in the conversation, too.

He said over the next couple of years, he expected more than 300 place names to change as part of the Akaitcho Treaty Agreement process.

Sir John Franklin High School graduates walk toward the stage set up in Somba K’e Park for their graduation ceremony on June 24. NNSL file photo

Sir John Franklin High School graduates walk toward the stage set up in Somba K’e Park for their graduation ceremony on June 24. NNSL file photo

Nurses must feel safe to voice job concerns, says Semmler

A former nurse herself, Inuvik-Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler said June 3 nurses who voice job-related complaints need more protection.

She said nurses were worried about working during a pandemic lockdown and denied leave requests.

“It causes a weaker morale in the workplace,” she said.

Health Minister Julie Green said she was aware of job dissatisfaction issues at the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, which at the time had a 17 per cent vacancy rate in terms of staffing.

“It is easier to retain a nurse than to find a nurse and get him or her to move here and take that job,” Green said. “So anyone that we can keep … this is a victory all around.”

Integrity commissioner recommends Norn inquiry

Steve Norn should face an inquiry over his behaviour, integrity commissioner David Jones said June 15.

The MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh made an appearance in court the same day via his lawyer to answer to a charge of violating his Covid-19 self-isolation protocol.

The next step was to appoint a sole adjudicator to oversee the hearing.

Dene Nation chief calls for examination of all residential school sites

Norman Yakeleya, national chief of the Dene Nation, called for the immediate excavation of all 139 residential school sites in Canada following the discovery of the remains of 215 children in an unmarked burial site in British Columbia.

“Families are still waiting for their children to come home,” he said. “Enough is enough.”

Meanwhile Premier Caroline Cochrane said May 31 that any such investigation at Northwest Territories sites would be led by Indigenous people. In fact, she said, Call to Action 76 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report recommends that any strategy connected to a residential school cemetery should be led by “the Aboriginal community most affected.”

Then-Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty, a residential school survivor, said the discovery was disturbing and traumatizing.

“Let’s never forget this happened,” he said. “It can’t be hidden.”

Air Canada resumes service to YZF

Air Canada flights to Yellowknife were ramped back up to three times per week as of June 30.

“With Canada’s ongoing vaccine rollout acceleration, together with various provincial governments’ reopening plan that include travel, this summer is looking brighter,” Air Canada executive Mark Galardo said.

The company stopped flying to Yellowknife in January as air traffic plummeted during pandemic lockdowns.

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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