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Eight-year-old on a mission to clean up Frame Lake

Ryelle Whitford (right) and her friend, Charlee Pond (left) clean up the Frame Lake shoreline. Catriona Koenig/Cabin Radio


Ryelle Whitford was appalled by the amount of garbage she could see floating in Frame Lake. Worried about the city’s wildlife, she was determined to do something.

Ryelle is an eight-year-old girl from Yellowknife. “There was a dress, there was a sign, there was a bunch of things that were not supposed to be in there,” she told Cabin Radio.

Describing Frame Lake, she said: “It’s as dirty as mud.”



Ryelle’s mom, Nicole, said her daughter came home with a plan. She created a petition and had her neighbourhood friends sign up to clean the lake.

They met with Mayor Rebecca Alty to organize the event, Nicole made a post on Facebook and, within a month, the cleanup came to life.

Nicole Whitford holds up a dress pulled out of Frame Lake. Emily Kruger holds open a garbage bag. Catriona Koenig/Cabin Radio
Frame Lake cleanup participants pose for a photo. Aug 12, 2021. Catriona Koenig/Cabin Radio

After half an hour of picking trash out of the water on Thursday, Ryelle said she already noticed a difference.

“We don’t want animals getting sick,” she said. “We’re stopping all the fish, the ducks, and the seagulls from dying.”



Frame Lake is currently considered a dead lake after high arsenic levels and nutrient buildup over many years put an end to previously popular pastimes like swimming and fishing. Mining giant Rio Tinto said earlier this year it hopes to work on restoring the lake to better condition.

Ryelle now hopes to do her part by working with a diving crew and local canoeists to begin cleaning up deeper sections of the lake. A couple of days ago, a bike was pulled out of the water. Just out of reach were orange pylons, chairs, a picnic table, and cement blocks.

Walt Humphries pulls a sign out of Frame Lake. Catriona Koenig/Cabin Radio

In the future, Ryelle wants to similarly clean up the Yellowknife River and other lakes around the city.

Her friend, Charlee Pond, attended the cleanup and shares a passion for ensuring bodies of water are trash-free in Yellowknife and beyond. “When we’re adults, we’re going to travel the world together,” Rylee said.

Mom Nicole told Cabin Radio: “This is what our generation needs for the children, and the town, and everything around us.”