Five of the NWTRPA's six walking challenge advisory committee members. Jennie Vandermeer/NWTRPA
Almost two years after apologizing for naming its walking challenge Walk to Tuk, the NWT Recreation and Parks Association has restored the name.
An annual walking challenge has been the association’s flagship winter event since 2010, drawing thousands of participants in almost all of the territory’s communities. Teams are invited to jointly walk 1,658 km, which is the equivalent of the distance along the Mackenzie River between Fort Providence and Tuktoyaktuk.
In January 2022, the association said its decade-old practice of calling the event Walk to Tuk had been “disrespectful and harmful to survivors of the residential schools in Canada.”
“The name created an unfortunate connection between the event and the experiences of three boys and residential school survivors who tried to walk back to Tuktoyaktuk after escaping from residential school in Inuvik,” the association wrote at the time.
Instead, the walk was temporarily renamed the NWTRPA Walking Challenge pending a review.
Public consultations of Tuktoyaktuk residents were subsequently held and an advisory committee of six people was also formed, the association said. All six were “Indigenous to the NWT,” the NWTRPA stated, with one from each region and an extra member from Inuvik.
On Monday this week, the association said its review was complete and had recommended “reverting back to the name Walk to Tuk.”
Walk to Tuk branding had already begun reappearing in emails sent out by the association earlier this month.
A summary of a newly published 25-page report stated: “With regard to the name for the program, we heard from many northerners and it was very clear that they wished to keep the name Walk to Tuk.
“It was also unanimously decided by the Walking Challenge Advisory Committee and the community of Tuktoyaktuk that the NWTRPA keep the name Walk to Tuk.
“The view was that by keeping the name, this could create opportunities for conversations about the history of the Canadian residential school system in the NWT and also celebrate the survivors of that system.”
Registration for the next Walk to Tuk will open on December 1.