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Braving the obvious response, contest launches to name NWT vessel


Yes, someone has launched a contest to name a research vessel. Yes, it's in the Northwest Territories. And yes, we know what you're thinking.

Well, that's not true. You could be thinking Boaty McBoatface but you may also be thinking Bob, both of which are tried-and-true stock responses to naming contests.

The British Antarctic Survey knows all about Boaty McBoatface. That was the wildly popular winner of a poll to name one of its research vessels in 2016 – a suggestion so popular it was rejected outright by the British government, which instead called the boat Sir David Attenborough. (One of its submersibles was named Boaty McBoatface as a compromise.)

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Bob is the infamous dark-horse contender from a 1996 poll that asked NWT residents to propose new names for the territory.

Now, a new front has opened up in the ongoing quest to see if a naming contest can survive the twin perils of the internet and northern humour.

Former Canadian Coast Guard vessel Nahidik, recently rescued from years lying idle in Hay River, is back in service and needs renaming, the Arctic Research Foundation says.

The ship's operators had mentioned the plan to rename Nahidik when it docked in Yellowknife last month. The vessel's maiden voyage in its new role involve five NWT youth working alongside researchers to study Great Slave Lake.

"This is the newest, and largest vessel to join Arctic Research Foundation's fleet, and we're looking for a new name to match," the organization tweeted on Monday.

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"Formerly called the Nahidik, the vessel is a joint venture with the Government of the Northwest Territories. Make sure to tweet your ideas for the new name!"

October 2019: Youth join crew of NWT research vessel rescued from scrap

The vessel's new livery includes blue funnels adorned with the territorial government's logo. Cabin Radio understands the refit to give Nahidik a new lease of life cost around $1 million.

"It's humongous. Huge. I've never seen anything like it before," said 17-year-old Zhanayii Drygeese, from Dettah, as she completed her research trip with the ship in October. The educational mission was jointly organized by the Arctic Research Foundation, Nature United, and Northern Youth Leadership.

Nahidik is the Arctic Research Foundation's fifth research vessel. The ship had passed from the Canadian Coast Guard to marine transportation company NTCL, then ended up in the territorial government's hands when it assumed control of the failing NTCL in 2016.

Taylor Schear on board Nahidik

Student Taylor Schear on board Nahidik in October. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Arctic Research Foundation chief executive Adrian Schimnowski came across Nahidik last year, setting in motion its new life.

"We're trying to create a vision where youth can work alongside scientists who are specialists in many broad areas of research," Schimnowski said last month.

"An interesting thing happens when you have a group of people come on a ship. We're out on the water, the lake or ocean – wherever it is we come together – and everyone becomes equal. So the scientists inspire the youth, and the reverse, too."

Based in Hay River, the ship is expected to spend most of its time on Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie River, and in the Northwest Passage.

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