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NWT Sunday briefing: Letters, weather and more


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. Happy Halloween. This week’s photo is our contribution to Yellowknife’s Pumpkin Lane from last year. Remember to send your pumpkin that way between Monday and Wednesday next week if you’re in Yellowknife.

The sharp-eyed among you will notice there’s a whole bunch of snow in that photo from November 1, 2020. And Frame Lake, in the background, looks fully frozen over (although it’s hard to tell). Quite the difference a year later, and you can expect some basic reporting from us on our warm October very soon. If you have an anecdote or anything else to share about the warmth of the past month, email me.

This year, we’re not running a live video broadcast for Halloween. We’ve run a live video every year for the last four years, but it’s more of a technical challenge than you might think and, increasingly, I’m convinced a Halloween live show should be very much a radio endeavour, not a video proposition.

That’s why we’re planning to bring it back on air once we receive our FM licence (whichever decade that might be). I’m convinced there’s a lot of fun to be had with a live radio show that keeps people company while they hand out candy or trick-or-treat across Yellowknife and the NWT on Halloween, with reporters out interviewing people and bringing the evening to life. But it needs that FM audience to fully work as people move around, which is why we’ll hang on to that idea until we’re on your dial.

Even so, I’ve tasked a couple of our reporters with producing a Halloween video so you should see something on Monday. It’s too important a night in the NWT for us to totally miss. (If you’re in a community where trick-or-treating is banned this year, my sympathies. I hope howling at the moon helps.)

On the subject of Halloween, I sobbed into a microphone recording the interviews for this report on Hay River’s parade for Linda Carter happening later on Sunday. Thank you to Linda, her daughter Sharlyn, and Erika Walton for their time speaking with me. What Hay River residents are doing for Linda, and what she has spent decades doing for them, encapsulates why I love living in the NWT. If you ever are aware of any similar recognition happening for a resident of your community, let us know.

We’re committed to reporting the good news as much as the bad, because we all need to hear more about the likes of Linda to compensate for the stressful things we’re reading and reporting these days.

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

John Franklin and NWT names

We reported on the 200th anniversary of Franklin’s first brush with the NWT and I subsequently asked how people felt about the idea of renaming the things that currently bear Franklin’s name.

From Jennifer Inch:

I was born and raised here, and went to Sir John, and my daughter now attends there. In my day, I don’t recall much Indigenous info in the curriculum, and at least there’s more now.

Last year, as a Grade 11 student, my daughter wrote an assignment on the name-change topic and came to the conclusion that a name change for the school would be a good thing to consider – possibly to Akaitcho, but to at least ask the resident Indigenous people what they thought.

In the past 30 years community names have changed and so addresses, maps, etc have had to follow suit. I suspect most businesses these days issue documents electronically, so an address change might not be as inconvenient as it sounds at first.

Personally, I don’t have any issue with ditching Franklin’s name from the school or the avenue, and replacing it with names of wiser leaders.

From John Soderberg:

Franklin Avenue may have been named after Sir John but this is not evident in the actual name. It is just a reference to a place in the city that is recognizable. The original city plan called it 50 Ave. Part of it is still referenced as 50 Ave. Why is it now necessary to rewrite history?

I had two generations of kids that attended Sissons. They have Sissons memorabilia. Why do they not deserve to be part of an ongoing legacy? I can say the same for Sir John Franklin High School. I can see the reunion announcement now: “Graduates from 2021 of no-name high school, formerly known as Sir John Franklin.”

From Denise:

I think there should be a monument set up in honour of the destroying of the Akaitcho Hall when École Sir John High School was rebuilt. Where Akaitcho Hall was is now the staff parking lot. You can’t erase memories and history by tearing things down without acknowledging what was there.

From Dave Miller:

Regarding honours to Franklin, they say history-makers should be judged in the context of their times. If that’s the case, then even by 19th Century standards John Franklin should be totally forgotten; he mostly wandered aimlessly around the north leading misguided people to agonizing deaths. And if he actually served any purpose it was mostly to extend British colonial rule. So by honouring him with place names we basically glorify vainglory and folly.

As for retaining the existing street name because a few merchants would have to alter their letterhead, weigh that against the ridicule our community deserves for commemorating such a loser.

Regarding alternative names, a non-controversial route would be to honour the various Indigenous tribes of our territory by giving their names to various downtown streets, including main street. As for the high school, there are all sorts of good names we could select: Truth and Reconciliation High, or Matonabee High, or Akaitcho High, or George Tuccaro High, or Bob MacQuarrie High School, or Gordon and Ruth Bailey High School, or Veterans Memorial High.

Hockey and careers

Yellowknife 17-year-old Taylor Catcher described her focus on education as she made Alberta’s U18 team for a major tournament. “I also have to think about education more than hockey when it comes to university,” she said. “Female players cannot go into the NHL, they cannot make a living off of hockey – which is kind-of sad and a little frustrating.”

From Tom Makepeace:

Taylor mentioned education as she cannot make a living from hockey. This is so true of all hockey players. The average hockey player has a better chance of being a brain surgeon than making the NHL.

The draft system is one of the best hindrances to getting into the game. Take Gordie Howe. How many years before he got replaced? How many times did someone not make the team because of him? Yet every year the draft picks to replace him could not shift to a different poor team, because why let other teams get these great players coming up.

Remember, to write to us, email comment@cabinradio.ca. If you email one of our other addresses and don’t clearly state your message is for publication, we won’t publish it. Anything sent to comment@cabinradio.ca is considered to have been submitted for publication. More information here.

PS: Some people may have missed the memo about our public Facebook group for discussion of news stories. So here’s the link again if you miss commenting.

☼ Weather outlook

Yellowknife: A bright start to the week. Still significantly warmer than is ordinary for this time of year, with highs up to 3C on Monday. Chilly on Halloween night though, down to -9C with the possibility of flurries.

Inuvik: Dry with a mix of sun and cloud throughout the week. On Halloween it’ll drop to -7C, which is about average for each night coming up. Monday will be warm with a high of 2C.

Norman Wells: Down to -10C or so most nights, Monday again the warm spot with a high of -2C. More cloud from Wednesday onward.

Hay River: Sunny and startlingly warm in places, with Wednesday forecast to hit 7C, which is 10C above average for this time of year. Halloween low of -8C, which is as cold as it should get this week.

Fort Smith: Also warm, with Thursday likely to be hottest (high of 6C). Thursday night will be mild, too, barely below freezing. A little more cloud as the week goes on. Halloween low of -5C with the possibility of flurries.

Fort Simpson: Up to 1C on Monday but not quite as warm as the South Slave this week, particularly at night, with Tuesday set to dip to -12C. Should be dry, though. Halloween low of -9C.

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 COP26 climate summit is under way in Glasgow, with the NWT represented by environment minister Shane Thompson, Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby, and two senior officials.

The Steve Norn inquiry continues on Tuesday.

Otherwise, it’s a relatively quiet week for what I was taught to call on-diary stuff (things that are in the calendar and can be seen coming, as opposed to off-diary, which is news that just happens without prior warning). It is, however, my birthday on Monday. And the cinema has reopened, so I’ll be making time to see No Time To Die at last.

Speaking of movies, does anyone else here listen to my favourite podcast by far? I would be thrilled to find fellow listeners. And speaking of podcasts, Rylund Johnson’s new podcast On The Ledge just published a chunky 70-minute chat with Rebecca Alty, Yellowknife’s mayor.

Oh, you can also expect video of me in a sensory deprivation tank at some point. And don’t forget all NWT adults can now book a booster shot and flu shot as desired (as long as it’s six months since your second dose).