Yellowknife News

Beware the unnamed source in news stories, warns Yellowknifer editor Randi Beers

May 15, 2017


photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
In this week’s Media Moments, Yellowknifer editor Randi Beers discusses unnamed sources. Sometimes, a publication will choose to protect the identity of a person in a story but must do so responsibly. Three years ago, Rolling Stone Magazine protected the identity of a woman who claimed she was violently sexually assaulted at the University of Virginia, above. The story has since been retracted and the magazine settled a libel lawsuit after it was revealed the woman was not honest.
May 2017
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A giving movement gains steam

May 11, 2017
Jody Pellissey, Renee Sanderson, Lindsey Dwojak, Cheryl Mandeville and Caitlin Cleveland assemble baby baskets for mothers in need. In April the group delivered 35 baby baskets to the hospital in April, a project Renee organizes every six months through Pay It Forward NWT. Photo courtesy of Renee Sanderson.
Jody Pellissey, Renee Sanderson, Lindsey Dwojak, Cheryl Mandeville and Caitlin Cleveland assemble baby baskets for mothers in need. In April the group delivered 35 baby baskets to the hospital in April, a project Renee organizes every six months through Pay It Forward NWT. Photo courtesy of Renee Sanderson.

When Renee Sanderson started Pay it Forward NWT, the group had a grand total of one member. Three years later, her group’s Facebook page has 1,217 members and 600 active volunteers.

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Who you gonna call? Not the WSCC

May 10, 2017


the issue: WSCC communication

we say: Pick up the phone

One of the biggest safety issues facing workers in the NWT is the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission’s (WSCC) inability to use a telephone. Or email. Or any other way to communicate with the families of those killed on the job effectively.

Earlier this month, the Vinnicombe family traveled to Yellowknife to take part int he National Day of Mourning, on behalf of their son, 19-year-old David Vinnicombe. He died in a heavy machinery accident in Inuvik last June.

His father, Robbie, says there’s “lots of room for improvement” when it comes to how the WSCC keeps families in the loop. He told Yellowknifer his family had little information about the investigation into his son’s accident, leading them to believe it wasn’t effective.

That poses a risk for future workers too: as Robbie explained, a “shoddy” job investigating his son’s death could lead to another fatality down the track. If the WSCC can’t even explain adequately to the family, how can the public trust they’re doing everything they can to safeguard workers on the job?

The family has encouraged the minister of justice and the minister responsible for the WSCC to hire an ombudsman. Currently, there is no ombudsman– who investigates and reports on whether government agencies have followed policies and procedures– in the NWT.

But almost more importantly, the WSCC must keep families in the loop. The families and loved ones of workers killed on the job suffer. While the system grinds on, the families are left in the dark, not knowing why their loved one died, if anyone is to blame, and what’s being done to make sure no other families are shoved in the dark with them. If the WSCC isn’t keeping those lines of communication constantly open and flowing with families, it is suffering a public relations failure.

And there’s no reason this should be happening: the WSCC is a well-funded body. As David’s aunt Jacqui Vinnicombe told Yellowknifer, just because we’re in the North doesn’t mean we should expect anything less.

After all, lives are at risk.

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Can journalists be activists?

May 8, 2017
NNSL file photo
Yellowknifer columnist Walt Humphries has been a prominent activist in support of saving the Robertson Headframe. Not only did he dedicate columns to the cause, he attended city council meetings, filed a development appeal and led an entire campaign.

The answer is yes, no – well, it depends

Last week, former Toronto Star columnist Desmond Cole announced he’d been given an ultimatum.

Toronto Star says I can’t be a columnist and an activist at the same time, so I’m giving up my column,” he tweeted last Thursday morning.

He linked to a blog post, which went into the situation in greater detail. That week, Toronto Star’s editorial page editor, Andrew Phillips, took him aside to discuss an April 20 incident in which Cole refused to leave his chair after giving a deputation at a Toronto Police Services board meeting. Cole was there to speak against police carding.

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City to count homeless next year

May 4, 2017

Yellowknife will count its homeless population next year with funding from the federal government, according to Coun. Linda Bussey. The city’s community advisory board on homelessness opted at a meeting to hold what’s called a point-in-time count. The methodology of the count will be determined later. The federal government offered $32,000 for the project. A similar count in 2015 found 139 homeless people, though the count was criticized for potentially under-counting people.

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City seeks feedback via pollster

May 4, 2017

In the coming days, polling company Ipsos Reid will be gauging opinions on municipal issues for city hall. Pollsters will ring both landlines and cellphones between May 8 and 19 in search of residents 18 and older. When Ipsos Reid carried out the survey in 2014, questions included rating the quality of life in the city, most important issues and satisfaction with city services. Results will be provided to city council to guide decision making and posted publicly on the city’s website.

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Police seek man accused of sex assault

May 2, 2017

Police in the city are searching for a man accused of sexual assault who has evaded arrest attempts, according to an RCMP news release.

Police are seeking to arrest Aaron Catholique, 36, of Yellowknife who remains at large after a search spanning several days. The public is not in “immediate” danger, police stated.

He’s described as being of indigenous descent, 183 cm tall, weighing about 80 kg, with brown hair and eyes. Anyone with information about him is asked to call RCMP at 873-1111 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or texting nwtnutips to 274637.

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City seeks Canada Day vendors

May 2, 2017

The City of Yellowknife is on the hunt for arts, crafts and food vendors to liven up this year’s Canada Day celebrations at Somba K’e Civic Plaza. The deadline for vendors to apply is May 31, according to a news release. Non-profit organizations are being given preference for the event, which will take place from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 1. Application forms can be found on the city’s website.

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City considers buy-local policy

May 2, 2017
Shane Magee/NNSL photo
Yellowknife senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett, shown in April, says a change to an ambulance fee will take effect next year to allow the GNWT time to budget for the increased cost.

A new trade agreement between provinces and territories could make it easier for the city to buy goods and services locally, within certain limits.

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