NWT Sunday briefing: Letters, weather and more

Last modified: September 3, 2022 at 1:09pm

Welcome to our Sunday briefing, the home of letters you write to Cabin Radio, a weather outlook, and some notes on the week ahead.

Hello. I’m Ollie, the newsroom editor, and I’m writing this.

This week’s photo comes from Kevin Klingbeil. “This was a multiple shot panorama (several images stitched together to give a wider perspective while maintaining a high level of resolution) of a dramatic sky on the evening of September 28, taken from the rock outcrops along the Back Bay shoreline,” Kevin writes. Thanks to Kevin for the shot. If you’d like to submit one for a future Sunday briefing, email it to us.


Should we rename Franklin Avenue and Sir John Franklin High School? In the last report she filed before leaving us for Up Here, Meaghan Brackenbury examined that question in marking 200 years since Franklin, an English explorer, was rescued by Chief Akaitcho and others while struggling for survival in the NWT’s barrenlands.

Franklin’s name persists in Yellowknife in an era when other such names are often retired. While he was evidently an ambitious explorer of the kind once celebrated, he was another country’s ambitious explorer. There is little about Yellowknife to which he is connected other than having once wandered through the region, more than a century before what we now call Yellowknife formally existed, while trying to be somewhere else.

Yellowknife’s elected officials recently suggested part of the problem is the cost to businesses on Franklin Avenue of having to change letterheads, stationery, billing information and so on if their street name changes. Then there is the problem of what to name the street and school instead: who, and how, do you pick? Is there any obvious answer that satisfies everyone?

I have yet to meet a Yellowknife resident who professes any degree of affinity for Franklin beyond his being a name they grew up with. That said, it was noticeable that some people were unimpressed to hear École JH Sissons School’s name may be changed when its new building opens. There are sometimes arguments for holding on to names when the names themselves, never mind who they actually commemorate, have become part of a community’s fabric. Franklin has long been synonymous with the heart of Yellowknife, its main street. Students who went to Sir John Franklin might be attached to the name because they’re proud of their school, not necessarily of him.

Is it time Yellowknife dropped Franklin and found new names? If so, who deserves to replace him? Write to me, I’d be interested in your views. (I’d also be interested to hear from anyone who can help me trace exactly how and when the street got that name. In 1946 I can find one reference to it being called Franklin Road, and by 1979 there are references to it being Franklin Avenue. Do you know some or all of that history? Let me know.)


As ever, thanks for reading our work. If you value it enough to contribute a small sum each month, we gratefully appreciate all donations made through Patreon. — Ollie

✉︎ Letters

Behchokǫ̀’s detachment size

We reported on internal RCMP studies that found Tuktoyaktuk’s RCMP detachment needs one additional officer and Behchokǫ̀’s detachment needs 12.

From Garth Wallbridge:

The GNWT, which I am told contracts with the RCMP to provide policing service throughout the territory, has to answer why one community – Behchokǫ̀ – is apparenty understaffed by 12 members.


That budget pressures are always an issue I understand and accept. That the authors of the internal RCMP report may have a specific agenda that goes beyond just a simple analysis may well be the case.

But such a report cannot go unexplained.

All citizens of the NWT have a right to be told what the heck is going on here.

From the editor: We did approach RCMP for comment about their own studies, which were provided to us by a third party, and initially received nothing back. Then, following publication of our article, we received a note from RCMP which in part read: “We had thought this was replied to on October 6. Our senior management team looked into your inquiries and provided the below response. Unfortunately, it got caught in a group email and the actual response was not forwarded to you on October 6, as we thought.”

Here is the response RCMP had intended to provide:

“Resourcing levels are determined in consultation with the Northwest Territories Department of Justice and the RCMP Commanding Officer for “G” Division (Northwest Territories) as per Article 8 of the Territorial Police Service Agreement in combination to the yearly funding provided by the Northwest Territories to the RCMP for policing.

“Tuktoyaktuk: There has been no creation of an additional general duty (GD) officer position since January of 2020. The current compliment of GD resources are the same from January 2020 til present. The detachment commander and district officer continue to ensure policing response to the community of Tuktoyaktuk is based on the priorities identified by the community and any additional support is identified to ensure the appropriate policing response is met. Ongoing community engagement via the mayor and council and the detachment occurs on a regular basis.

“Behchokǫ̀: In April 2020, two additional general duty policing officers position have been created in Behchokǫ̀ through First Nations Policing Positions (FNPP). These positions have been staffed. The current compliment of GD resources are the same from November 2020 til present. The detachment commander and district officer continue to ensure policing response to the community of Behchokǫ̀ based on the priorities identified by the community and any additional support is identified to ensure the policing standards are met. Ongoing community engagement via the chief and council and the detachment occurs on a regular basis.”

This response did not address all of the questions we asked. For the record, these are the questions we sent:

Has a general duty officer position been created and staffed at the Tuktoyaktuk detachment since January 2020? If not, why not?

How many officers were employed at the Tuktoyaktuk detachment in January 2020 and at present?

Has the detachment taken steps to address concerns regarding a lack of proactive time and ability to respond to priority calls either by increasing staffing, making changes to shift schedules, or by other means?

Have 12 general duty constable positions been created and staffed at the Behchokǫ̀ detachment since November 2020? If not, why not?

How many officers were employed at the Behchokǫ̀ detachment in November 2020 and at present?

Has the Behchokǫ̀ detachment taken steps to address the lack of proactive core time and increase response to calls by increasing staff or through other means?

Vaccine QR codes

Following on from last week’s correspondence on the new NWT QR codes proving vaccination.

From Jan Vallillee:

Have to give credit to the NWT Health and Social Services Authority for pulling this together. It was easy, when you follow the instructions exactly as written, and immediate. Very slick.

I have a Samsung with the latest version of Android’s operation system. I downloaded the application called SMART Health Card Verifier app – The Commons Project and it worked like a charm reading the QR code. This is a national initiative so the app works everywhere in Canada. I’ve also received confirmation that iOS 15 works. This is very slick and will make life so much easier when we are required to provide proof of vaccine, which is becoming a norm. Most folks don’t realize the volume of work it took to pull this together (why would they, it’s not their field), so kudos to them. It’s so much easier than having to carry a card around.

From the editor: I did ask the GNWT which, if any QR code readers were being recommended for businesses to use. There was no response as of Sunday morning but a Q&A for businesses produced by the GNWT and supplied by NWT Tourism to its members states as follows:

“Businesses can utilize a QR reader or mobile device application that will scan the codes provided on the updated PVC [proof of vaccination credential]. This is not mandatory as a paper copy of the PVC is acceptable, as is seeing an image of the PVC displayed on an individual’s electronic device for review of the details.

“The QR code may be useful when travelling as other jurisdictions have developed code reading apps or are endorsing third-party providers. The paper and electronic copy of the PVC from the NWT contains all of the relevant information required to confirm vaccination status.

“The GNWT is not endorsing and authorizing any third-party applications or scanners. Businesses can choose the product that works best for their organization.”


From Tara Marchiori:

Thank you for removing comments. I can’t begin to tell you how much it has improved my experience and my mental health. A few times, I saw the headline and it instantly created an anxiety response, until I remembered the comments are gone – fascinating!

You are still my go-to for relevant news, even more so now that comments are removed. It was an irritant on Facebook. It has also pushed me to use your website more often. Hope it all works out for you and your staff.

From the editor: It’s making a significant difference to my mental health, I can say that much. There are certain articles in the past week – electric snowmobiles, this article on conditions at Yellowknife’s jail – where the comments section would have been entirely predictable and would have entirely missed the point of the reporting, to everybody’s detriment.

Regarding the tangentially related but not-quite-identical subject of misinformation on social media, the CBC’s interview on the matter with Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was interesting to me.

☼ Weather outlook

Yellowknife: A murky week. Significantly warmer than average with highs well into positive territory each day, but cloudy with rain on Tuesday and Wednesday. Maybe, just maybe, a little snow leading up to Halloween.

Inuvik: Cloudy. Highs up to -2C for the first few days of the week, dropping to a high of -9C on Thursday and Friday.

Norman Wells: Some sunshine fighting through on Sunday and Monday, then cloud as temperatures steadily drop to highs of -7C with flurries on Thursday and Friday.

Hay River: A varied week ahead. Rain on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday but the forecast at the moment predicts a sunny Monday with a high of 6C. Colder by the end of the week, hovering around 0C.

Fort Smith: A relatively warm Sunday and Monday with some sun, but rain on Monday night will persist on Tuesday. Down to 0C and flurries by Friday.

Fort Simpson: Showers on Sunday but it’ll be as warm as the week gets at 4C. Nights down to -8C or so by the end of the week. Cloudy in midweek but sunny spells by Thursday and Friday.

✐ Notes

The latest version of Yellowknife’s draft zoning bylaw will be presented to city councillors on Monday. Here are the changes, which primarily attempt to placate residents in central Yellowknife and Grace Lake who felt the amendments initially proposed were too heavy-handed. Watch the bylaw presentation from 12:05pm here.

Justin Trudeau’s cabinet should be named on Tuesday. I have so far seen no suggestion the NWT’s MP, Michael McLeod, will be in it, though he has routinely advertised his availability.

Steve Norn’s public inquiry resumes at 9:30am on Thursday after a couple of delays related to Covid-19.

I doubt you need reminding: it’s Halloween this coming Sunday. The new NWT-wide gathering rule (save for a few communities under harsher restrictions) allows up to 25 people in a home provided all are either fully vaccinated or under 12, so bear that in mind if planning anything. There hasn’t been any Halloween-specific guidance for the NWT this year (yet).

Sunday also marks the start of COP26, the global climate talks. The NWT’s environment minister, Shane Thompson, and Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby will be in attendance in Glasgow, Scotland.