When my previous Labour Views column was published, the NWT had just entered phase one of Emerging Wisely and now, thanks to the diligence of our residents following our chief public health officer’s orders, we’re already into phase two. Let’s keep up the good work of keeping each other safe and healthy!

Over the past two months the Union of Northern Workers has been honouring UNW workers of all types across the NWT through a series of thank you cards published in News/North and on social media.

With such a huge and diverse workforce across the territory, we’ve done our best to highlight all our workers and if we didn’t manage to cover your particular sector, we want you to know that we do see you, appreciate you, and thank you for all you do.

Putting together this campaign has reminded us how crucial every worker is to ensuring society doesn’t grind to a halt during an emergency. Everyone has a role to play and this pandemic has highlighted a number of sectors that are far too often overlooked, unappreciated, or underpaid.

Under tight Covid-19 restrictions, countless workers have continued to provide the services that Northerners depend upon. They have adapted operations and come up with creative and innovative ways to maintain some sense of day-to-day normalcy during the pandemic.

Our front line and essential workers have been facing huge challenges with new protocols, revised schedules, cancelled vacations, and disruptions in childcare. These workers continue to attend their places of work, well aware of the risks they face.

These workers are in health care, public works, corrections and justice, critical infrastructure, social services, and environmental protection – just to name a few.

And while we tend to focus on essential and frontline workers – for good reason – we also need to acknowledge that a lot of the jobs that keep the lights on, the paycheques coming, and the traffic flowing, happen behind the scenes in planning, coordinating, funding, and administration.

A lot of these jobs are being done from home while workers contend with all the challenges that come with that. Adjusting to new routines and trying to work while simultaneously seeing to childcare, home schooling, very confused pets, and IT issues is challenging, especially when there is no predictable end in sight.

We’ve certainly seen some bumps along the road, but hopefully we’ve learned some valuable lessons during this phase of the pandemic that will set us up to do even better during the predicted second wave.

Northerners are resilient, and we are lucky to have such dedicated workers who have pulled together to be creative and flexible and help out where they can.

We also want to mention the workers who have missed out on job opportunities or been laid off due to programs or workplaces shutting down. Not everyone has had the benefit of redeployment or alternate employment. As the NWT slowly reopens, we need to channel our resilience and work together to support all our residents.

As we wind down our campaign and as workplaces slowly begin to open up and repopulate, we want to thank ALL workers and salute them for stepping up and ensuring that – for the most part – the NWT has continued to function with minimal disruption.

As a union, we are dedicated to ensuring that all workers are safe, healthy, and in the best possible positions to face any scenario that may arise. We hope that through this pandemic, employers and the public in general will see and appreciate – as we already do – workers in all sectors, and why it is important to safeguard and advance policies and agreements that protect jobs, families, and fair wages that will improve our economy.

To all NWT workers: your dedication to ensuring our territory is running smoothly and our residents are kept safe has not gone unnoticed – we see you, we appreciate you, and we thank you – and we want to make sure that everyone else does too.

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