The City of Yellowknife will officially proclaim Oct. 29 as Turkish Republic Day after council agreed to a request during Monday night’s regular council meeting, however the Turkish flag will not be raised as has been done in the past.
A request for the declaration came from the Yellowknife Turkish Community (YTC) and its president Reyhan Sarikaya.
Turkish Republic Day recognizes the official founding of Turkey as a republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on Oct. 29, 1923.
Sarikaya’s letter requested that the Turkish flag be raised without ceremony at city hall due to Covid-19 and that a proclamation be drafted.
However, due to the sensitivity of the issue, Mayor Rebecca Alty said the city has decided to “put a pause” on raising the flag this year.
“We do the proclamations based on requests from residents in Yellowknife and, in this case, it is about recognizing Canadians of Turkish descent in Yellowknife and their contributions to our community,” Alty said.
“We won’t be raising the flag this year out of recognition of the conflict that is happening in Armenia. We did want to do the proclamation of Yellowknifers of Turkish descent, but the flag we will not raise this year.”
Last January, council directed administration to come up with protocols on when it’s appropriate to raise flags, lower flags or make official proclamations at city hall. Alty said the issue is “tentatively” expected to come back to council soon.
“It may come by the end of November and so then we’ll have more guidance after that,” the mayor said.
“I know that this is a sensitive issue and it can be quite a confusing issue, too. The flag’s not going up because we are in solidarity with Turkey. Rather, it is supposed to be representing the rich culture and heritage and citizenship of Turkish events in Yellowknife.”
The city also agreed to make an official declaration of National Francophone Immigration Week from Nov. 1 to 7.
Council approves city’s response to university and feasibility study
Council unanimously passed city administration’s response to the findings and recommendations of the university feasibility and benefit study during Monday night’s regular council meeting.
City staff presented council with a the response to the 2019 document during the governance and priorities committee meeting, Oct. 5.
Last year, the city had commissioned a feasibility and benefits study for a polytechnic university in Yellowknife and council adopted it for information purposes at that time. The idea was for the city to examine ways that the community could support a university and what would be required.
“So there are some actions that the city can take,” Alty said. “If Aurora College has an expanded campus in Yellowknife, you will need more housing and that is something that the city – through our zoning bylaw – would have to take into consideration.
“The city is also asking things like, are there incentives that we can put out that would encourage people to develop student housing? Those are some of the recommended actions.”
The study had come from the June 2018 Aurora College Foundational Review which examined the college’s ability to transition into a polytechnic university that can grant college and diplomas and university degrees.
Alty said the approval will now allow city staff to find ways to work with the GNWT on supportive initiatives for an expanded campus.
FCM committee board meetings
Council authorized Mayor Alty to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) committee meetings if they are held in 2020 and 2021.
A council resolution is required for elected members to attend FCM meetings.
Upcoming meetings will take place in November (virtual or in Ottawa) and March (virtual or Prince George, B.C.). Both are increasingly likely to be done via web video conferencing rather than involving travel due to the pandemic.
“I don’t recall us ever having a member on this committee at that national level and stage and I think it is pretty exciting that Mayor Alty is putting her name forward to this,” said Coun. Niels Konge. “Any opportunity in the North or for Yellowknife for that kind of national exposure is good for us.”
Alty said it will provide Northern municipalities the ability to contribute to the national discussion on issues affecting communities across the country.
Council had budgeted $32,810 for 2020 for mayor and council to travel, but the city states that the figure has been “reduced significantly” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Alty went to the AME Round Up Mining Conference in Vancouver in January and attended the Northwest Territories Association of Communities annual meeting with Coun. Cynthia Mufandaedza in Inuvik from Feb. 26 to March 1.
All other scheduled travel this year was cancelled due to Covid 19.