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Cabin Radio’s 10 most northern news stories of 2020

Some news stories have the hallmark of being from the NWT before you even check the location.

Cabin Radio produced more than 2,200 news reports in 2020.

From our archive, we’ve selected 10 stories we think are the definition of northern news – things that maybe wouldn’t be news anywhere else, couldn’t be news anywhere else, or have an extra edge to them because they happened here.

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Some are a bit strange, some are heartwarming good-news stories, and some are just tales of everyday life.

We present our 10 choices in no particular order. Happy reading, and we hope you enjoyed our news coverage this year.


The marriage of Gabby and Bojack

Gabby and Bojack are set to tie the knot later this summer
Gabby and Bojack. Photo: Jessie Wilson

Wedding season brought a special – if slightly unusual – Yellowknife couple to the altar.

Gabby, a standard poodle, and her great friend Bojack, a “northern special” mixed breed, were married.

Yellowknife resident Jessie Wilson found out earlier this year that her dog, Gabby, had been diagnosed with cancer at just five years of age.

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Jessie Olson, Wilson’s neighbour and owner of Bojack, had previously joked with Wilson about their dogs getting married – the owners would catch Gabby waiting outside the door of Olson’s houseboat each morning, hoping to see Bojack.

After Gabby’s diagnosis, the owners took the joke a little more seriously.


Bear enters diamond mine cafeteria

An image of a bear in the Diavik diamond mine's cafeteria, as shared to Facebook by the N'Dilo Memes page.
An image of a bear in the Diavik diamond mine’s cafeteria, as shared to Facebook by the N’Dilo Memes page.

A bear ended up prowling the dining facilities of the Diavik diamond mine in September.

An image on Facebook showed a bear pacing the cafeteria. “This is wild,” a caption shared beneath the image read.

It’s not clear how the bear ended up inside the mine’s main camp. The layout of the camp means the bear could have reached the cafeteria by entering through the adjacent kitchen’s external doors.

Video of the incident later emerged. Be warned, this tale ultimately had a sad ending.


Yellowknife unites against DoorDash

A sign at a Yellowknife McDonald's location indicates customers can order via DoorDash
A sign at a Yellowknife McDonald’s location indicates customers can order via DoorDash. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

When food delivery app DoorDash launched in Yellowknife, rejection from the city’s restaurant trade and its customers was swift and uncompromising.

The moment DoorDash arrived, two Cabin Radio reporters spent the day investigating. It turned out at least four of the five restaurants listed on the app had not given their consent – a similar tale to the experiences of eateries in other cities.

By 8pm that day – several hours after our report was first published – only McDonald’s remained listed. DoorDash appeared to have removed the others from its app.


Hay River shelter dog launches movie career

Lexi with Supernatural star Jensen Ackles. Photo: Supplied by the Woodley family
Lexi with Supernatural star Jensen Ackles. Photo: Woodley family

She may have one of the finest filmographies of any NWT actor. Her career spans the TV show Supernatural to a line of Hallmark movies, and now she’s appearing alongside Academy Award-winners.

She is Lexi, a dog who started out as an unwanted puppy at Hay River’s animal shelter. After being adopted by a dog-training family from British Columbia, her life has been transformed.

Read our report from early December, in which Hay River shelter staff and Lexi’s new owners fill us in on her rise to stardom.


Pat Kane’s socially distanced portraits

Two Yellowknife residents practise social distancing at home
Two Yellowknife residents practise social distancing at home. Supplied by Pat Kane

It became a hit not just in Yellowknife but across Canada and elsewhere: photographers taking portraits of you through your window as you stayed safe at home.

NWT photographer Pat Kane played a big role in popularizing the idea.

In March, he told us the project began as a joke from his wife before swiftly turning into a hit with Yellowknife residents.

“I did four shoots yesterday and I have five today. I’m busier than I’ve ever been in my life,” he said at the time.

Highly commended in the category of Yellowknife Does Covid: Residents demand to know where to put dog poop, impromptu plush-toy bear hunts begin across the city, families build homemade Covid-19 piñatas, and 11-foot horticultural muskox socially distances.

And in the broader category of NWT Does Covid: Man trying to reach Dehcho cabin triggers argument with chief public health officer, salesman apologizes for “ruckus” after crossing into NWT when he shouldn’t have, and whooping cranes turn out to be doing well at distancing.


A procession of trucks for Les Rocher

Trucks parade in memory of Les Rocher on May 3, 2020
Trucks parade in memory of Les Rocher on May 3, 2020. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

The NWT did a fine and poignant job of adapting public displays of appreciation and commemoration this year.

A memorial parade of trucks for the late Yellowknife property developer Les Rocher was one of the standout events of the year in the city. We filmed it from the air.

We also live-streamed a similar procession of vehicles for the late Robin Mercer-Sproule, while other NWT residents adapted the idea as a means of celebrating birthdays and other occasions.


Vehicles besiege reopened Yellowknife dump

Vehicles line up outside Yellowknife's dump on May 4, 2020
Vehicles line up outside Yellowknife’s dump on May 4, 2020. Photo: Jeremy MacDonald

Yellowknifers endured garbage gridlock on the day the dump reopened following its initial weeks-long Covid-19 closure.

Despite the City of Yellowknife moving to weekly garbage collection, some residents had more than a month of waste backed up – and were prepared to risk the reopening rush.

Our reporter Sarah Pruys even began salvaging from the backs of people’s trucks in the line (one of our most-viewed TikTok videos of the year).


Suddenly, liquor delivery is a thing

A bottle of hand sanitizer sits inside Yellowknife's downtown liquor store on April 16, 2020
A bottle of hand sanitizer sits inside Yellowknife’s downtown liquor store on April 16, 2020. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

After decades of movement at a glacial pace, the onset of a pandemic brought about surprisingly swift change to NWT liquor rules.

Liquor can now be delivered by licensed restaurants and bars to your home, the NWT government announced in May. That had never previously been possible in the territory.

Caroline Wawzonek, the finance minister, said delivery would keep more people at home and, if done right, would “encourage responsible consumption” during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Potato onslaught causes argument

A file photo of potatoes in June 2020. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
A file photo of potatoes in June 2020. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Remember when 50,000 pounds of seed potatoes showed up in the Northwest Territories?

They were donated by Alberta’s Sunnycrest Farms then distributed across the territory by Hay River’s Northern Farm Training Institute and a team of volunteers.

But the story wasn’t that simple. Days later, a nearby potato farm announced it was closing for good.

We looked into some residents’ concerns about the ultimate impact of so many free potatoes. (Meanwhile, the Cabin Radio dog went potato crazy.)


Golf course mowed by bison offers free clubs

Danny Beaulieu mows the Fort Providence golf course with the help of a bison
Danny Beaulieu mows the Fort Providence golf course with the help of a bison. Photo: Susan Fleck

Fort Providence’s mayor, Danny Beaulieu, spent the last week of June mowing the grass of the hamlet’s year-old golf course ready for a Canada Day tournament. He had a little help.

Beaulieu told us the local bison were pulling their weight. “There are three big bulls in town that like hanging out and eating grass on the golf course,” he said.

Every golfer who played in the tournament got a free set of clubs. Edmonton charity Sport Central had donated sports equipment worth $200,000, including 60 sets of clubs.

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