Yellowknife Centre Newsletter
NWT Returns to Pre-Pandemic Life
Vaccination rates continue to increase across the NWT and the Chief Public Health Officer has responded by easing public health restrictions.
 
As of June 29, up to 200 people may gather indoors for events, with no additional approvals required. There are a few exceptions including funerals/celebrations of life, singing and hand games, among others, that the CPHO considers higher risk. Organizers will have to develop a plan for the event that may include mandatory masking and physical distancing. You can find additional information at this link.
 
On June 21, the CPHO reduced requirements for self-isolation following travel outside the territory. NWT residents, non-resident essential service workers and other travellers with exemptions who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to self-isolate upon entry to the NWT. Everyone is still required to submit a self-isolation plan for potential contact tracing purposes. Volumes are high and residents are encouraged to get their plans in two weeks before travel. People who are unvaccinated, including children, and those who are partially vaccinated will still need to isolate. See the graphic below for more information:
Dr. Kandola has also changed her advice about non-essential travel: go ahead, but be aware of the infection rate and health orders in the place you plan to visit.
 
One more post-pandemic change to draw your attention to: the $200 daily limit on transactions at the liquor store has been removed.
 
The next change to look forward to in the Emerging Wisely plan is an end to exemptions for domestic travel into the NWT. That will happen when we have a 75 per cent full vaccination rate in the NWT (we’re now at 68 per cent); fewer than 1,000 new infections a day across Canada (we’re there now); and a national full vaccination rate of at least 66 per cent (Canada is at 53 per cent). The CPHO estimates we will meet all the benchmarks by later summer/early fall.
I joined Commissioner Margaret Thom and hundreds of Yellowknifers for a different kind of Canada Day. 

We put on our orange shirts to honour residential school students and walked down Franklin Avenue to Somba K’e park.

At the park, we fed the fire and listened to a group of powerful drummers and speakers. I was honoured to walk with the Commissioner, a residential school survivor who has spent much of her work life helping her community regain what was lost - language, culture and tradition.
Health Guidelines for Arsenic Concerns 
People using the lands around the former Giant Mine property for recreation and harvesting are reminded of human health concerns related to past arsenic contamination.

The Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) was completed for Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah. Activities to determine risk have included sampling of soils, a Health Effects monitoring program including the collection of urine and toenail samples from people, as well as fish and water monitoring. This summer, the lake bottom offshore from the former mine site will be monitored and mapped.

The results of these investigations are found in summaries on the GNWT Department of Health and Services website and in a brochure published by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Check out these resources for safe use of the lands and for harvesting resources.
100+ New Seniors Housing Units
at Avens Pavilion Project 
The Avens Pavilion seniors housing project is going ahead, following City of Yellowknife approval of the development permit.

The $38.8 million project will feature 92 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom independent living units, plus kitchen and laundry facilities. The federal government is providing $33.7 million and the GNWT $5.1 million.

In a news release announcing the project, Avens board chair Marion LaVigne said “The Northwest Territories is aging and as more people decide to retire here, the demand for suitable, affordable housing for seniors has far exceeded supply”.

“To assist northerners to age in place, we are proud to add another 100-plus housing units for seniors, and to offer a range of support services to assist both Avens residents and seniors in our community.”

Project construction is expected to begin with improving access to the site with a new road from Gitzel street and blasting that will continue into fall 2021 from 7 am to 8 pm daily. The Pavilion is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2023.
Avens has a dedicated webpage featuring a monthly newsletter and webcam live feed showing construction.
I attended the unveiling of new benches commemorating Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Jane Weyallon, President of the Native Women's Association of the N.W.T. says benches are physical reminders of an important message: that men need to speak out against violence to women and girls.

Four memorial benches have been installed: two at Rotary Park and two at Somba K'e Park.
Emergency Leave for Employees
The NWT Employment Standards Act now includes emergency leave provisions. Workers may access unpaid leave when they are unable to work because of an emergency, such as COVID-19. The idea is to encourage compliance with public health orders while providing workers with job security.

A worker on leave may apply for recovery benefits under the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Response Measures Act to make up the shortfall in income. If you lost your job because you were unable to work as a result of COVID-19 you may have grounds to file a complaint with the Employment Standards Office. For more information contact employment_standards@gov.nt.ca or call 767-9351 Extension 71469
Contributing to the Community
MLAs receive a budget to run their constituency offices, and some of that money can be used to support events that are open to the public at no charge. Over the past months, I have provided contributions of $500 each to the Chinese Lantern Festival, Inclusion NWT’s Gumbird Quest 2021, Snow Buddy’s Winter Garden, Folk on the Rocks and the Old Town Ramble and Ride Festival. I’m proud to provide support to these great community events.