NWT election candidate Katrina Nokleby said she is "truly sorry" after a resident said a comment she posted on Facebook was "insulting" and "appalling".
On Saturday, Nokleby commented beneath a video posted to Moose FM's Facebook page regarding an incident where two people were attacked with what police believe to be bear spray at Sissons Court. Nokleby wrote: "probably someone sick of us candidates campaigning lol."
A man has since been arrested and charged with break and enter and assault in relation to the incident.
Sissons Court is in the Frame Lake district. Nokleby is running against Patrick Scott in the neighbouring Great Slave district.
"At first everyone was concerned and, looking at it, of course, I was concerned too. I have friends and family that live in that area," said Yellowknife resident Julie Thrasher, describing what she thought when she saw the video.
Thrasher then noticed Nokleby's comment, which she interpreted as making light of the situation. She said she was "appalled" by it.
"It's not funny," Thrasher said. "We're struggling with so many issues here in the Northwest Territories, aside from the high cost of living and people leaving the territory. Addictions are taking over communities and people are losing their lives because of it."
Thrasher replied to Nokleby's comment on Facebook, asking what her post meant and stating: "This is serious and in my opinion for someone who's running for public office ... shows no respect for those affected or struggling." Shortly after, Nokleby deleted the comment and sent a private message to Thrasher. In it, she apologized for her comment.
For Thrasher, who approached Cabin Radio about the incident, this was not enough. She wanted Nokleby to apologize to the people involved and to the community for her comment. She also called for her to step down as a candidate.
"I've gone through some trauma in this city myself personally, by losing family members and friends," she said, adding the comment brings back memories. "To have someone make a comment like that, and then joke about it, not only hurt me but re-traumatized me. And I'm sure it hurt a lot of people and re-traumatized them."
Declining an interview with Cabin Radio, Nokleby issued a written statement on Tuesday in which she said she was "truly sorry."
"The comment was meant to jest at the things all candidates, including myself, have been dealing with at the door," she stated. In her message to Thrasher, she stated she had made the comment after having had a door slammed in her face.
After reflecting, Nokleby stated in the news release, "I realize that this is a topic that should not be joked about and apologize for not recognizing this earlier." She added she is not perfect, has made mistakes, and "will likely make other mistakes along this journey."
She promised, if elected, to acknowledge, learn from and correct her mistakes.
Nokleby was the apparent recipient of Glen Abernethy's endorsement according to an NNSL report early on Tuesday. Abernethy is stepping down after 12 years as Great Slave MLA.
Thrasher said she wants all candidates running for office to remember who they are representing, including the most vulnerable.
"We cannot have candidates making light of the fact that there's suffering going on and joking about it," she said. "I'd like to see where every candidate stands when it comes to socio-economic problems and the drug addictions, alcoholism, and homelessness that's affecting our communities. "