The issue: the spirit of Remembrance

We say: Yellowknife is living it

As the world recognizes a Remembrance Day as unique as the rest of 2020, it’s inspiring to see Yellowknife reflecting the values envisioned by those who died in combat.

Twice now, public health and social services have intervened to produce major wins for the most vulnerable Yellowknifers: when the Arnica Inn project morphed from a potential women’s shelter to an isolation centre with a managed alcohol program, and now again with the take-your-medicine move by the GNWT to impose common sense and put a temporary day shelter in the former Side Door building.

Most of the city councillors who shot this proposal down in August when the sun was still spending almost the entire day in the sky have kept quiet since the GNWT move Nov. 6. One who responded to our queries was Coun. Robin Williams, who said he’s “not 100-per-cent happy” with how things turned out, but in the same breath acknowledged that the need created by the reduced capacity imposed at the day shelter and sobering centre on 50 Street is greater than the as-yet unaddressed concerns of neighbours, including business owners.

While the use of “emergency powers” in terms of the territorial government has become a household phrase, Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) Minister Paulie Chinna has employed them in exactly the right context here.

It would have been nice, not to mention efficient, for MACA to have stepped in when the Side Door location – also referred to as the former Mine Rescue Building – was being considered the first time around. It probably has less to do with some of us working better under pressure and more to do with allowing the proper sequence of events to unfold before reaching for the proverbial red button.

Whether you’re at 100 per cent satisfaction or not, it’s clear this is the best option Yellowknife has. So while attendees take part in a pared down Remembrance Day ceremony a few blocks away, street-involved people are seeing the benefit provided by a significant expansion of the city’s social safety net.

Taking care of our most vulnerable, putting aside our own concerns for the greater good, standing up for what’s right. If you’ve attended a Remembrance Day ceremony in your life, you’ve heard this stuff before. It’s all 100 per cent in the ballpark of the freedoms and values our veterans and glorious fallen fought for in the First and Second World Wars.

Those of us who are 100 per cent happy about anything, let alone the state of housing in Yellowknife, are few and far between. Surely city councillors can summon the steel to see the Side Door suggestion through as that building comes to the rescue one more time.


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