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August/september 2013 | FREE
get it wet.
Introducing the Sony Xperia® Z. Exclusively available
at Bell on Canada’s largest LTE network.1
Water resistant for up to 30 minutes in
one metre of fresh water 2
5" full HD screen
13MP full HDR (high dynamic range) camera
Watch over 30 live Mobile TV channels
Trade in your current phone or
tablet and use its trade-in value
towards the next device you want3.
Also available in white.
EXCLUSIVELY AT BELL
Available at the following Bell store:
4802 50th Avenue Lower YK
Offer ends August 31, 2013. Available within network coverage areas available from Bell Mobility; see bell.ca/coverage. If you end your services early, a fee will apply; see your Service
Agreement for details. Subject to change without notice. Taxes extra. Other conditions apply. (1) Based on total square kms of coverage on the shared 4G LTE network available from Bell vs.
Rogers LTE network. See bell.ca/LTE for details. (2) Water resistant if ports (i.e. charger and ear phone ports) are closed properly. Device does not float and has not been certified for pool or
ocean use; follow warranty guidelines. Warranty will be voided if liquid detection is triggered on device or battery. Do not use device near water while charging. See other important restrictions;
bell.ca/XperiaZ. (3) At participating locations. Must be 18 yrs. or older and the legal owner of the phone or tablet traded in. Max. 1 phone or tablet per trade-in. Rebate applies at the time of
purchase on the price of the device and/or accessories in-store after taxes. Amount of rebate depends on the value of the phone or tablet ; not all phones or tablets will get a rebate. See
bell.ca/tradein for details. Xperia is a trademark or registered trademark of Sony Mobile Communications AB.
august / september 2013
Sr. Contributing Editor
Copyright 2013 by:
Front EDGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Contributors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Spreadsheet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Found Food. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Tin Can Hill. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Fur-reasoning or Freezing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Creating your own reality through drawing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
The Real Housewives of Yellowknife. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Hot or Not: EDGE YK Guide to Wing Night . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Storming the City with Rainbows. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Now Hiring. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Houseboat Living. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Into the light: A film re-imagining Giant Mine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
On EDGE: Opinion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Heavy Laundry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
Edge YK is delivered, free of charge,
to every house in YK and is also available at:
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Dancing Moose Cafe
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ISSN 1927-7024 (Online)
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as well as many other businesses
And online at edgeyk.ca
To short summers, even shorter
shoulder seasons and EDGE YK’s
In summer, I have trouble imagining Yellowknife in winter. Right now, it’s early July and boats are being
launched, one after the other, and tourists are wandering around outside our Old Town office, enjoying the
thick swath of sunshine which saturates so many YK summer evenings. As a now-YK-expatriate friend of mine
says “this place gets an awesome six-week summer.”
Here’s to making the most of that golden window. As you’re reading this, we’re seeing noticeably shorter
days and cooler evenings. Soon, we’ll have another window to enjoy fall colours before the flakes fall and
we’re into the deep freeze. (Read Peter Sheldon's column on page 73 if you want ideas about what might
happen this coming fall and winter.)
But in any season, Yellowknife is an awesome place. And once again, we’re lucky to bring you a tiny slice of
that awesomeness. We have so much great stuff in this issue it seems a shame to highlight just a few stories,
but two stand outs include Nicole Garbutt’s piece on queer culture in YK on page 42, and Garrett Hinchey’s
look at the employment scene for YK’s students on page 48. We also have an early look at a film, In the
Shadow of a Giant, which asks people to imagine the future of the Giant Mine site.
Finally, we have a new Editor, Laurie Sarkadi, who’s spent the past year doing a great job as our Managing
Editor. Laurie brings tonnes of experience to the position, both journalistic and in YK. More importantly, at
a magazine built on freelance contributions, she’s incredibly good at helping people tell their stories. And
while the editor’s changed, the contact info hasn’t, so keep those YK-related story ideas coming to editor@
Publisher / Editor
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Clark is a Saskatchewan film/video maker who also works in
photography, sculpture, print-media, and performance whose
recent work speaks about ‘place.’ In this issue of EDGE YK, Clark
previews his upcoming film, In the Shadow of a Giant. Clark splits
his time between Montreal, Saskatchewan, and now, YK. His
work has traveled to a variety of festivals including the Festival du
Nouveau Cinema in Montreal, the Yellowknife International Film
Festival and Germany’s Open Air Weiterstadt Film Festival.
Nicole grew up on YK’s Ragged Ass Road and is a born-andraised northern girl. Falling into journalism was a happy accident
that she now does part-time along with her makeup and bodypainting business. In this issue, she writes about queer culture in
YK (page 42). When not working on one of many projects, she
can be found hiking with her husky or on stage as a burlesque
A born-and-bred Yellowknifer, Garrett Hinchey is back home
for the summer after his first year at UBC's Graduate School of
Journalism, where he's pursuing his Master's degree. In this
issue, he writes on a topic he knows well: YK's summer student
scene. (page 48). When he's not camping or hanging around
Tommy Forrest Ball Park, Garrett is interning: first at Up Here
magazine and currently at CBC North.
From an early age, cameras have played an integral part in this
photographer’s life. Raised in the North (Iqaluit and Yellowknife,
but a Yellowknifer at heart), he discovered photography during
his world travels. Since then, he has developed it to tell elaborate
stories through narrative photography as illustrated in this
issue’s The Real Housewives of Yellowknife series. Now living
in Melbourne, Australia, he’s planning his first show, “14187
kilometres” for November 2013. www.coalphotography.com
Lee's one of "those" who came to Yellowknife for 6 months and
five years later, she's still here, with no departure date in sight.
Her favourite recreational activities are walking, cross-country
skiing and kayaking. There are few places where those pursuits
are so accessible and all wrapped into a perfectly sized city. In
EDGE YK, she writes about Tin Can Hill.
Believe. Excel. Compete.
People. Ideas. Technology.
We’re on the home team.
From the North. For the North.
The SSi Group designs, installs and operates advanced telecommunication
Yellowknife’s Michael Gilday - World Champion Speed Skater.
Good luck in the 2014 Olympic Trials, Michael!
solutions in some of the world’s most challenging locations.
Our HQ is in Yellowknife. Our people are global. www.ssimicro.com
Come join the home team! Visit us at 356B Old Airport Road in Yellowknife, or call us @ 1-888-774-6427
Are you covered?
Before you Leave...
You will need to fill out a Temporary Absence Form
if you are studying outside of the NWT for more than
3 months to make sure you have health care
coverage for the upcoming school year.
Having up-to-date information on your status is
important towards receiving health services. Please
make sure your health care registration information is
Call Health Services Administration at
1-800-661-0830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you
changed your name, marital status, address or your
aboriginal status. You can also download the forms
Health Services Administration
July 2013 | www.hss.gov.nt.ca
Get to Work, YK!
Yellowknifers remain some of the most employed people in
the country. In 2011, 80 per cent of Yellowknifers aged 15+
had jobs, compared with 61 per cent nationally or even 70
per cent in ‘hot economies’ like Calgary.
And who wouldn’t want to work in Yellowknife? Unlike most
Canadians, the majority of us don’t leave for work until
after 8 a.m.
Our average commuting time is 10.4 minutes, while
nationally it’s double that.
Unsurprisingly, 27 per cent of us walk or bike to work
compared to only seven per cent nationally.
Even Yellowknife drivers are making a difference for the
environment, as over a quarter of those who do drive to
work are taking someone along, compared to nine out
of every 10 drivers nationally who are commuting alone (let’s
not talk about what we’re driving).
Of course we don’t just go to work out of the goodness of
our hearts, or because it’s nice to walk there ... we also get
paid really well. In 2010, average employment income
in Yellowknife was $63,122, compared with $40,861
nationally or $50,900 in Edmonton.
TOP 5 Employing Industries in YK
All YK Workers
2. Mining and Quarrying
3. Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
4. Air Transportation
5. Food Services and Drinking Places
Source: Statistics Canada, National Household Survey, Neighbourhood Income Statistics
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5 STANTON PLAZA
Crust-less Cranberry Pie
This recipe – belonging to Ms. Mickey Brown – is great when short on time. It is a pie that does not need a crust and is
unbelievably easy to make. The whole, tart berries make it moist and delicious!
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 cups hand-picked cranberries
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup butter melted
eggs – beaten
½ tsp almond extract
In a bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Add cranberries and nuts, toss to coat.
Stir in butter, eggs and extract (note: the mixture will be very thick if using frozen
berries). Spread into a greased 9” pie plate.
Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until a wooden tooth pick inserted in the centre
comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream and/or ice cream, if desired.
This recipe and photo are from the Long John Jamboree Greatest Baker Cookbook, which is available at Signed, above Tru Value
Hardware and at the Yellowknife Book Cellar.
Tin Can Hill
A little piece of wild within the city
When I first moved to Yellowknife, I lived in the Anderson
Thomson Tower, the high-rise on the city’s east end.
From there I could see what looked like a wilderness area,
unbelievably close and easily accessed. It beckoned. My
first venture was stopped short by “No Trespassing City of
Yellowknife.” I paused, considering. Inside the gate, a dog
followed his nose, excitedly zig-zagging through the brown
grass. His human companion appeared oblivious to the notrespassing edict. I stepped around the bar across the road
– hardly a serious deterrent.
Yellowknife, I asked myself if I should worry about bears.
I stuck to the well-travelled road; nervous I might get lost
and stay that way for a long time. After all, it was Tin Can
Hill, where Mrs. Dargabble from Elizabeth Hay’s novel “Late
Nights on Air” was found, frozen. I had just moved from
Vancouver, where it takes hours to get to a trail, which, even
then hosts a non-stop snake of hikers. Finding such a wild,
unmanicured area a five-minute walk away was honestly like,
well, discovering gold. I returned home for supper, happy
with my new northern home.
It was a cold Sunday afternoon in May 2008, pre-mosquito
season, when I first followed that road up the hill, hidden
from below by a pile of pillowy rock. Being brand new to
Walkers, often with dogs, “cheeners” (snow-machiners) or
mothers, three abreast, pushing jogging strollers, all enjoy
Tin Can Hill for reverie, contemplation and camaraderie,
attracted to that sanctuary of wild within a city. We might take
our good fortune for granted. We might, like many do, think
we are solitary in our discovery of this precious site, but Tin
Can Hill has a long history, to say nothing of its primordial
geological record. It is so named because it was an early
dumping ground for emptied tins of supplies that used to
arrive in Old Town by boat across Great Slave Lake.
According to Scott Cairns, chief geologist at the Geoscience
Office in Yellowknife, Tin Can Hill, like other parts of
Yellowknife, is volcanic rock of Precambrian age, 2.7 billion
years old. Fluids heated to 600-800 C, from deep in the
earth, squeezed through planes of weakness, cracks, faults
and shearzones. Quartz and sulphide minerals were part of
that molten load but another of those particles happened
to be the one that has driven so much of the world’s history,
gold. With Con Mine just south of Tin Can Hill, it wouldn’t be
too surprising if some of that glitter is embedded under the
feet of the many trail aficionados there.
In fact, from the ‘30s to the ‘50s, prospectors scattered over
the hill with hammers and chisels, drilling trenches to house
their dynamite sticks. Still, evidence of the rubble left from
their blasts can be found on Tin Can Hill. They eventually
hit pay dirt. A shearzone runs along the lakeshore and it is
that zone where gold is embedded. Miners descended
the Robertson head frame to ‘drifts’, or horizontal tunnels,
1.4 kilometres below the surface of Tin Can Hill, where
Yellowknife’s early mining reputation was hidden. In those
days, pumps kept the drifts dry, but now with the pumps decommissioned, by 2016, those tunnels will be fully flooded.
Walt Humphries, a local rock-hound and columnist, recalls
that regardless of its golden secrets, Tin Can Hill had another
value for the Con miners. In early spring or late fall, when
they couldn’t walk over the ice or put a canoe in the lake, the
only route to get “to town” from the mines was over Tin Can
Hill. That was when “town” was “Old Town.” The miners
would go over the hill and drop down to School Draw, so
named because the school was there at the time. One
miner, Roy Beduz, remembered that it was also a route in the
‘60s and ‘70s followed by many a tardy Con kid. When they
would miss the school bus, over the hill would be their last
ditch attempt to beat the bell.
On Tin Can Hill there are still spots, protected from the city
light, where the aurora are strong, un-diluted. One night,
in search of the shimmering shape changers, I headed
out with a friend who is obsessed with photographing the
aurora, to our favourite spot. Instead of the silent cold, there
were youthful voices, shouting, in party mode. The burned
logs we had seen in a hollow on top of a meadow were
explained. It was March break and those voices carried the
thrill and impatience of budding romance; escape from
school, from parents and routine. They may have thought
they discovered the secluded meadow, but born-and-bred
Yellowknifers remember the night-time allure of Tin Can Hill
in the ‘70s, when teenagers would pass around Mason jars
containing a concoction of pilfered, undetectably-smallquantities of liquor from every bottle in their parent’s cabinet.
It was Lower Camp, number seven, Lakeview Road, right
across from Mosher Island, where Mayor Mark Heyck spent
what he describes as a marvellous childhood. “It was an
continued on page 17
continued from page 14
amazing, fantastic place to grow up, with Tin Can Hill as my
playground.” The road over the hill served as a raceway, as
did the barges which would anchor in front of the Heyck
house. He and his buddies would wrap life-vests around their
BMX bikes and cycle over the edge of the barges into the
lake, a four-metre drop. Those were the days.
In Heyck’s time, the ‘70s and ‘80s, there were a small
number of houses and the boiler house along the waterfront
road, but before then, the south end of Tin Can Hill had been
dotted with apartments, bunkhouses and a cookhouse. In
those days, they covered buildings with asbestos siding to
protect them from flying fire sparks. The life of mining activity
produced a steady and pervasive hum, heard everywhere on
Tin Can Hill. The buildings gradually came down, the men
moved to New Town and the hush of wind in the spruce
returned. By the ‘80s, Miramar, then owner of the mine
holdings, severed its lease to the waterfront portion of Tin
Can Hill and the City acquired it. It was slated to be the next
residential sub-division, but there was so much opposition,
city councillors turned their sights on Niven Lake area.
The City has put aside $60,000 of its capital budget for Tin
Can Hill, and will be asking Yellowknifers how they’d like
to see the money spent. Your thoughts are also welcome
at a new website called tincanhill.org, operating under the
mandate, “why we love tch.”
An Animal Rights
of Heart by Ruth Bowen
Artwork by Kris Schlagintweit
Brian frowned at my down parka. Bought for $50 in an
English discount store, I doubted it would be up to the
rigours of a Yellowknife winter but, amazingly, it got the
thumbs-up. “Except this...” he touched the fur around
the hood. “Nylon. Worse than useless. You need the real
thing.” Brian had recently moved to Ontario after 30 years
in Yellowknife and knew my one Canadian friend, who
introduced us in a rooftop lounge in Toronto. It was January
2010, my first full day on Canadian soil. In a few days I’d
be going north, but meantime I was sweltering and selfconscious amid the chrome and glass. I nodded politely,
knowing I was a total rookie to the cold, but also sure I would
never take Brian’s advice.
At school in the English Midlands, my friends and I had
wept and raged at images of baby seals being clubbed then
skinned alive. Just out of university, I moved to London in the
late 1970s at around the time the Greenpeace anti-sealing
campaign began to take off. Although I hadn’t gone on
any marches in a long time, I wasn’t going to wear real fur,
a superfluous, luxury symbol of ostentatiously excessive
The first time I went out in -35 C, my face was ringed by ice
within minutes and I couldn’t see through my frozen specs.
My second week in Yellowknife, I found a battered jacket
at St. Pat’s flea market with a thick strip of coyote – yes, real
fur – around the hood. I justified it to myself on the grounds
of (a) necessity and (b) the coyote had probably had a life,
not been bashed to death as a newborn at the flippers of
its frantic mother. I spent an afternoon bloodying my fingers
sewing the ruff to my parka with a poker-thick needle
designed for stitching boat sails.
Three years later, I’m back in Yellowknife for the sixth time,
hopefully for good. Weirdly to many, I love the winters here:
I love the stark whiteness, the absolute silence, the way the
air scrubs my nostrils and clears my head, the sense of life
stripped to its elemental basics. But loving the cold doesn’t
mean loving being cold, and I’ve struggled with clothing
my hands, especially to retain some dexterity. I’ve yet to find
a pair of winter working gloves that don’t flop empty from
the ends of my stubby fingers, and various mittens haven’t
worked either, even with thin gloves. And there’s the cuff
dilemma – do you wrestle sleeve-over-glove, or glove-oversleeve?
Then I saw a mitten-making workshop advertised. There
was a choice of designs, AND I could tailor them to my size
AND I didn’t need to know how to sew. Perfect! I just had
to pay the money and turn up at Northern Images with my
lunch and materials. Hmmm. Materials. Just what would they
be? I needed something practical for working and playing
outdoors, going ice fishing for example. Primarily, the mitts
must be warm. Second, they had to resist water. They also
needed some grip and toughness. It all pointed to a leather
or fur outer, with a fur or wool lining. Fur.
Since coming North, I’ve had so many of my assumptions
and prejudices challenged and confounded. The parka
hood was just the start. My disdain for hunting, based on it
being an upper-class sport for the British, was turned on its
head when I began to learn about the spiritual, as well as
cultural and nutritional importance of the traditional caribou
hunt; how the entire animal is utilised, and respected,
including in death. Brian had told me his warmest outfit was
a suit of uncured caribou skin. “Smells a bit by the end of
winter, but you make another the next season.”
Last year, before returning to England, I went shopping
for gifts. “You can’t take that,” I was told, as I fingered a
miniature pair of mukluks. “It’s sealskin. Banned in Europe.”
Made in the High Arctic, this exquisite work probably fell
into the tiny proportion of skins that, according to the EU
regulation, come “... from hunts traditionally conducted by
Inuit and other indigenous communities which contribute
to their subsistence.” These are exempt from the ban, but
only on compliance with labyrinthine monitoring, checking
and regulations. And there is no chance of that happening
for Canadian skins anytime soon, if ever, because Canada
is actively disputing the legality of
the 2009 European legislation.
Another hammering for traditional
communities. Historically, this
started with the traders who lured
them from a subsistence culture into
selling pelts, creating an economic
dependence and vulnerability to
market vagaries and fickle fashion,
forever changing a way of life.
I had already succumbed to coyote,
had spent a night in a quinzhee
on caribou fur, and now my antiseal stance seemed shaky too. So
it wasn’t such a big step to go to
the Native Women’s Association,
to look through the pelts they sell,
all harvested in the North. They
were – are – beautiful; the sealskin
luminescent, the sheared beaver so
soft I longed for 40 below, just for the
excuse to wear it.
Charissa Alain-Lily’s workshop
obliterated all memories of ghastly
school needlework classes, forced
to make stupid frilly things I’d never
wear. Although she offers several
styles, none were quite what I had in mind, so she helped me
adapt her standard boxer mitt by extending the cuff, gauntlet
style. Based on an Inuit design, the boxer follows the natural
curve of the fist, allowing a more accurate grip. Contrary to
my expectations, and previous efforts to stitch leather, she
taught us to use the smallest needle possible: the glover has
a three-sided point, making it sharp enough to glide through
hide most of the time (and very painful, as she had warned,
when I stabbed myself). For eight hours I barely moved from
my seat, and even had to be reminded to eat lunch.
I didn’t, in the end, use fur. I’m making my mitts from an
old leather coat, lining them with off-cuts from a felted
tablecloth. I’m not famous for neatness or accuracy and
decided my first pair should be practice. I’m still hacking
and jabbing away, but I’m learning, before moving on to the
real thing: sealskin. With the endless summer light, I have all
night to wield glover and scissors and by winter will be ready
to grip that fishing line with furry hands.
Creating Your Own Reality
An Architectural(ish) Representation
of Swimming Great Distances in
Story and artwork by Chrissy Taylor
In June 2012, I visited Hamilton Ontario briefly before
returning to Yellowknife for the summer. While packing, my
mom handed me my swim suit. “You might need it,” she
said. I shook my head, “I didn’t swim once the last time I was
in Yellowknife, it’s a waste of suitcase space.” She insisted,
“just in case.”
My name is Chrissy Taylor. I’m an architecture student who
has lived in Yellowknife on and off for three years. Last
summer, without swim training beyond the age of 10, I
attempted to be the first person to swim across the North
Arm of Great Slave Lake. This entire experience snowballed
from one initial swim to Dog Island following a dare while
house-sitting a houseboat. The North Arm attempt had me
swimming for 20 hours straight and further than I anticipated,
when the wind picked up and forced me to stop.
I want to share a bit of my experience last summer, the North
Arm attempt and the five swims leading up to it.
I always keep a sketch book with both visual and written
information about almost every aspect of my life. The
North Arm swim cannot be told or explained as a singular
experience and I don’t see it as a failure, but merely a positive
step towards achieving a larger goal. In fact, every swim was
a lesson learned with more knowledge gained and, more
importantly, confidence. This process and learning curve is
visible in my sketch book from last summer, some aspects
are more interesting than others. I’ve share a few of the more
June 30, 2012 - Dog Island
I knew as soon as my friend dared me
to swim to Dog Island that the goal
was well within my reach. It’s true that
I don’t have any formal swim training
but I have always been a very strong
swimmer. I can’t imagine a situation
in which I would be too tired to swim
and I suppose I assumed everyone was
able to do this.
July 3, 2012 – Mosher Island to
I knew by looking at Google earth
that Mosher was roughly twice the
distance of the Dog Island swim. Being
able to see my goal, I was completely
confident that I would be able to
One of the best things about
Yellowknife is the people and the
positive “you can do anything you
want” attitude. I feel like if I were
working in an office anywhere else
the general reaction would be much
different. Whenever I told someone
about swimming, I generally received
positive, “keep going” feedback.
There was always someone willing to
just sit in the support canoe and spend
hours of their day drifting along beside
me, or willing to dispense information
about Great Slave, or volunteer their
boat. Last year wouldn’t have been
possible if I wasn’t in YK, and is one of
the reasons I have grown to love this
place and miss it when I’m away.
July 10, 2012 – Yellowknife to Detah
Unfortunately my canoe guy (and
co-worker) Mark and I did not check
the weather forecast before heading
out on our swim to Detah, and at one
point we were not making any progress
paddling/swimming against the wind.
Eventually we made it to Detah, about
half an hour before a huge storm hit.
Mark and I attempted to canoe back but
we were unable to make any headway
paddling in the storm. Stranded in
Detah at 12 o’clock at night, we were
forced to call our boss, Wayne Guy, to
rescue us, who did so, to our relief, with
great enthusiasm and excitement.
July 15, 2012 – Mackenzie Island to
The first official swim I was accompanied
with not only a canoe but also the
Naocha One, Wayne’s live aboard that
can hold people and supplies. Lasting
seven and a half hours, the Mackenzie
Island swim gave me the confidence I
needed to pursue further open water
swims. After this swim I began to talk
about the possibility of swimming the
July 27-28, 2012 – Romance
Harbour in the Mirage Islands
I needed additional practise in big
water and at night when the North was
beginning to see darkness again.
Jesse (left) and Ayla (right)
Around 2 a.m., the winds severely
picked up when the canoe and I were
navigating water filled with rocks. For
the first time I felt what it was to not
be in control of where I was going in
water, at any point I felt like I might be
thrown against a rock.
After a long difficult night, the sun
rose and the waters calmed, I was
swimming along shore, no longer in
the middle of the lake, and the goal
was once again in reach.
The trip in from the West Mirage
Islands took 14 hours and the North
Arm swim we had been planning
was about 17 hours through similar
conditions. This success gave me the
confidence to take the next step, the
North Arm of the Great Slave Lake.
August 17, 2012 – The North Arm
The interesting thing about the North
Arm attempt was that I was unable to
see how it was going to end before I
Being the first time I have ever seen
the North Arm of Great Slave Lake,
I underestimated its vastness. I was
unable to see the land I was swimming
towards because it is very low on
the east side of the North Arm, but I
was always able to see the land I was
swimming away from, which was
disheartening to say the least. I felt like
I was swimming in the desert, through
scenery that never changed.
It was around the middle of the
afternoon that I caught my first glimpse
of land. It was so low and dark that it
almost felt like a mirage. It was also
around this time that the wind began
to change, the waves were bigger and
starting to switch direction.
It was late afternoon and we were
very close to an island. I could see
the definition of the trees, and my
experience told me it was about a
normal hour’s swim away, but the
winds had turned and were now
directly against me. I swam for two
hours and the island did not get any
bigger, it stayed in the same place and I
felt like I was a hamster on a treadmill.
North Arm Swim
THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING
Accompanying me on the swim were
the Davidsons in the support boats,
among others. Jesse tells amazing
stories of his previous travels and Ayla is
one of the most positive people I have
ever met. While accompanied by them,
swimming felt easy. They truly taught me
the power of positive thinking.
When approaching objects in the water,
you expect them to move towards
you at the same pace as if you were
in a motor boat or canoe. Sadly this is
not the case; swimming in open water
is mentally challenging because the
scenery doesn’t change often.
CONCEPTUAL MODEL (Image on
Seventy per cent of long-distance
swimming is mental. Swimming in the
middle of massive lake (and deepest
in North America) in the middle of the
night, being hit by waves can be a
terrifying experience for the strongest
swimmer. I have quite the over-active
imagination in the darkness. Massive
Pike from the Yellowknifer’s catch of
the week and frightening tales told in
the Black Knight by locals living in YK
for years lingered in my imagination.
The actual length of my crossing was
24,560 metres, the actual depth was
approximately 3,500 metres. But if I
allowed myself, I imagined far worse.
Thirty per cent of the swim is about
being physically able, the rest is about
controlling your thoughts and emotions.
COLD (Image below)
Getting into the 11-degree water, I knew I was in
trouble when I was unable to warm up and adjust to the
The sun began to rise and I felt like this would make
everything better: the temperature and my over-active
imagination. I was wrong. With the sun came the waves
and glare off the water directly into my eyes. I felt like I
was getting the coldest sunburn of my life while battling
I have never been in Yellowknife for the winter, but in the
water that August day, I got the full experience. The icy
waters numbed my legs until I could no longer feel them
and put enormous pressure on my chest. I have never
been so uncomfortable, and the thought of going back
in the water is the only hesitation I have about attempting
the swim again this year.
Great Slave Lake: North Arm Swim 2013 – What if?
Architects are primarily concerned with representation
- put your vision to paper, hash out your ideas, express
them to others and finalize a design. Essentially, this
is where architecture happens. Having an accurate
representation of a building it is almost completed; the
idea is fully expressed. After a building is represented,
it almost doesn’t matter if it is built because it exists as a
If I approach this year’s North Arm swim like an architecture
project, if I plan and represent the second step for the North
Arm of Great Slave Lake, it is bound to become a reality. If
everything is planned with a beginning, end and a clear
intention, if I can visualize the journey and accurately represent
every last detail, it will become a reality. I can successfully
complete the swim.
As I said, the previous summer was a learning experience,
every swim was a lesson learned. In order to successfully
complete the North Arm of the Great Slave Lake a few
conditions need to be changed. This time we need to start on
the east shore and swim west, so I can navigate the islands at
the beginning of the swim instead of at the end, and so that I
will be able to see the land I am swimming towards. We will
have to wait for ideal weather conditions, with just a slight
wind in the correct direction and it must be attempted earlier
in the year. If the correct conditions are chosen, it shouldn’t
take longer than 17 hours. It will still be a mental challenge and
physically demanding. I’m sure there will be unnervingly large
waves and unpleasantly cold temperatures, but this time I can
see the ending. I can see the success.
Have a g
We should talk.
Industry, Tourism and Investment’s Support for Entrepreneurs and
Economic Development (SEED) policy could help get you started.
North Slave Office: (867) 920-8967
Images and words
by Alexander Legaree
I don't like reality television shows, which is why I was
surprised to find myself sucked into the world of "The Real
Housewives" not long ago. It's an embarrassing admission,
but I watched an entire year’s worth of programming,
despite my general disdain of all things highly edited. Out
of this, however, came the idea for “The Real Housewives of
While the series was inspired by the program, it’s by no
means the sole source of inspiration. Think of this series like
“Stepford Wives” meet “Ice Road Truckers” with a healthy
dose of Yellowknife; meaning you can have manicured
perfection while retaining elements that make each person
unique. Let me explain.
In our image-conscious world, photography plays a central
role in people’s sense of self-worth. Admit it or not, seeing
a photo on the cover of any given magazine, or hearing
criticism in the media of any woman or man based on their
perceived ‘flaws,’ often erodes our self-esteem. We live in a
culture obsessed with unobtainable perfection and people
often go to great lengths to achieve it, regardless of the
emotional or physical consequences.
◀ Pop Goes The Daisy (2012)
In this shoot, we explore the duality of the
human persona; one side sweet and the
other, well, let’s just say it’s not quite there
yet. This photo is one dash of politics with
one dash of theatrics.
We constantly and tirelessly attempt to maintain control of
what photos exist of ourselves and in those photos we seek
constant validation. Look at any given Instagram feed, with its
countless digital filters, designed to make everyone feel like a
trendy hipster photographer (interesting to note many of the
filters clean up flawed skin to some extent), Facebook with its
infamous ‘Like’ button and ability to tag or un-tag one’s self
(you wouldn’t want those party photos being seen, would
you?), or Tumblr and the relentless pursuit of ‘reblogs.’
Through the series, I set out to explore the ways in which
female identity is constructed through the art of narrative
photography. By no means solely an exploration of
stereotypical femininity, the series was also designed to
explore the masculinity and duality of women, to be bold
and brassy and to explore nominal subcultures within
While certain photos in the series may display elements of
fragility, vulnerability or gender stereotypes, the overarching
theme is strength. It’s my belief that each of the women really
showcased that in different ways.
These photos were fun to shoot, the women were amazing
to work with, but most of all, the photos are real.
▲ The Price Is Right (2012)
Revered during her tenure as hostess of
“Wheel of Fortune”, Vanna White has
become an icon of grace and elegance for
a nation. So too has ‘The Posh One’ from
▲ Trash, The Dress (2012)
Photographing the Yellowknife “Solid Waste Management Facility” in a
way never seen, it brings new meaning to the idea of ‘trash the dress’.
◀ Madame (2012)
In 2005, the “Runaway Bride” made headlines around the world as she
faked her own abduction days before her wedding. “Madame” is part
of a series of photo shoots that explored what could have been if she
had got over her cold feet.
continued on page 37
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continued from page 34
▲ Headlines (2012)
You can wear your heart on your sleeve, or wear your work as a
dress. This photo draws question to the role of media in our daily lives
and how seriously (or not) we take what media we consume.
These Words (2012)
With auto tune, anyone can become an instant musical superstar,
but will today’s music stand the test of time?
▶ Look Up (2012)
Mining lore and legend play an important role in the storytelling
culture of the North. Through her partner’s newfound discovery of
diamonds on the tundra, things appear to be “Looking Up” for our
Each of the photos have their own story, which you can view on www.facebook.com/coalphotography or contact Alexander at
The EDGE YK guide to Wing Night
If there’s one thing that defines YK’s mid-week bar scene, it’s
Wednesday Wing Night. Whether you’re new to town or
have been here forever, it’s a cheap way to socialize and take
one step closer to the weekend.
According to oral history, YK’s Wing Night can be traced
back roughly 15 years to the Unicorn bar before it was
Le Frolic. We should also mention Surly Bob’s heyday of
consistent wing size, quality and innovative flavours, such
as Dumb Ass hot. But which of today’s six (SIX!) Wing Night
specials is the best deal? More importantly, who has the best
After seeing numerous local contests based on questionable
online voting, EDGE YK decided to develop a serious
quantitative and qualitative ranking matrix.
We then assembled a team of six
judges with various skills and
abilities (from wing-eating
connoisseur carnivores right
down to a wingénue) to
the most definitive breakdown of the YK wing scene ever
At each stop, we sampled a plate of hot, and the venue’s
most popular wings (as decided by our server), paired with
a pint of draft beer. After sampling, we rated out of five, each
establishment’s atmosphere/service, wing flavour, texture/
meatiness and uniformity of sauce/breading.
To get the overall score out of 20, we averaged the scores
and then totalled them. And thanks to one judge’s Polish
upbringing – a nation in which food was once listed by
weight on restaurant menus to ensure value for money – we
even weighed the wings to determine who’s offering the
most cluck per buck.
So, as you’re planning your Wednesday
evening outings for this fall and
beyond, don’t get in a rut.
Keep this guide handy and
make every Wing Night a
The usual chain restaurant offering with lots of TV screens,
sports jerseys and other stock art on the walls. The service was
friendly, though not prompt, provided by a French national
hailing from a village where one of our judges had lived briefly
during post-university European travel. Though his accent and
demeanor were charming, forgetting to bring us napkins was
not, especially after eating sticky honey garlic wings. These
wings ranked well in terms of uniformity of sauce/breading,
though a LITTLE too uniform by some judges’ standards, given
their processed McFeel. They were also quite hot, which was
great. On a value note, these were the most-expensive wings
per pound and only wings weighing less than an ounce each.
Also, the Wing Night special is only available on a double order
(18 wings) which may be a few too many for the average human
to take down.
Top Survey Quotes
Our most polarizing
venue, with one
judge saying he
refused to rank
these wings and
“these are not
referring to the
Here’s how three
other judges felt
I’m not a fan of
Hot and Boneless Honey
“I feel guilty for
liking these, but
in reality, these
are not wings.
They’re deepfried BP’s chicken
“My tastiest wing.
Very meaty. Great
$10.99/18 or $9.92/lb
Something like a dark-green bowling alley, this is by far the most
perplexing venue we visited. A 45-minute long wait for the
wings – interrupted by one of our judges briefly turning into a
hero by clearing a small mountain of empty wing baskets from
a table of terrified Japanese tourists – ended with the delivery of
what were, flavour- and texture-wise, likely the best wings we
sampled. They were spicy, crispy, moist and delicious, and less
than ½ the price of the second cheapest option. Unfortunately,
the high taste and value marks can’t make up for the service,
which is embarrassing even by YK standards. If you go, bring a
sense of humour and pack your patience
Top Survey Quotes
“Had to use toilet paper
from adjoining stall (after
having bypassed three,
THREE stalls full of pee.)”
“This is ridiculous, terrible service
but pretty good wings, actually.
I feel like my world has been
turned upside down.”
“Service was a joke. Front door was locked. Bathroom was
Hot and Salt and Pepper
$3/12 or $3.04/lb
Each of the spots we hit had its strength. Coyote’s was, truthfully, a
surprising overall winner but was strong in all four categories. The Black
Knight had great wings and usually has great service, while the Mackenzie
Lounge had dynamite wings with uncomfortably bad service. The Monkey
Tree had a great atmosphere and service with wings that also passed the
test of most judges. The quality and flavour at BP’s was consistent, though
the service was lacking and the processed uniformity of the product
posed a problem for some judges. Finally, Hot Shots had a relaxed
atmosphere and quick service.
The EDGE YK team is willing to break down YK’s best of just about
anything, from cheeseburgers to haircuts. Email your ideas to editor@
Hot Shots Pub and Grub
Sam˙s Monkey Tree
Unpretentious even by YK standards, Hot Shots is decorated
with local sports jerseys, dusty Blue Jays pennants and a wall
of dart boards. If you felt like it, it’s the type of place you could
throw on a pair of sweat pants before heading out for a pint and
not feel uncomfortable. The draft beer was noticeably cold,
though there was only one option. The lemon slice in a finger
bowl was a nice touch until we realized we were sharing one for
the table. The wings were served quickly and fairly good overall.
More than one survey mentioned the hot wings were not very
hot, though this was not the only place this was a problem.
Ranked well in texture/meatiness and uniformity of sauce/
Decades on, the Monkey Tree’s tables, chairs and light fixtures
remain charming even as they crumble. When we arrived, it was
quite busy with a mixed crowd of people watching the Stanley
Cup finals, though the server was friendly and quickly by our
side, even breaking down the story of her tattoo for our curious
and now somewhat-intoxicated judges. She also brought
everyone their own plate, a nice touch, and the bar had a wide
selection of draft. This was the first joint where hot wings caused
even mild discomfort in the judges’ mouths. Ranked well in
terms of service/atmosphere and wing flavour.
Top Survey Quotes
“I skipped this place on
purpose. Not really, I was nine
minutes late and the crew
was apparently on a serious
Hot and Honey Garlic
“Cooked well, not very
meaty … sauce was
uniform and a great
$6/12 or $7.84/lb
Top Survey Quotes
“About (the server’s) tattoo. ‘Yes, they
are cranes, under cherry blossoms.’
The three cranes represent her, her
husband and their daughter. Her bro’s
doing the tattoo and will only colour
in the cherry blossoms and crane’s
Hot and Honey-Hot
“A goodly amount
of hot sauce on the
wings. Any more
and they would be
wet and soupy.”
$5/10 or $7.52/lb
Coyoteøs Restaurant and Lounge Top Knight
We were on the lounge side here, similar to the restaurant,
but darker and with a big-screen projector and pair of wellappointed pool tables. Fourteen wing flavours are available with
frosted mugs (a nice touch) though the draft beer was a little
less carbonated than we would have liked. The place is given its
charm by a popcorn maker, disco ball and wall filled with hats
and shirts won by Ed, the owner, from unsuspecting patrons
during pool games. The house special Creamy Buffalo sauce
is an ingenious mixture of ranch and buffalo, which received
mixed reviews, but those who liked it, liked it a lot.
Top Survey Quotes
“Hot is a misnomer, but it seems
“Elvis – bonus points
this is a cultural thing. Nobody
for the “weird” movie
posters with LED lights.” wants to call their wings ‘average
heat’ wings, but they want to
cater to the common palate.”
Hot and Creamy Buffalo
(house special mix of ranch and
$6/10 or $8.32/lb
Likely the most well-known wing night in YK, the BK/TK is still
the first stop for most newly arrived young professionals and
also the bar of choice for many long-timers. In terms of value,
the TK ranked second only to the Mackenzie Lounge and the
wings were the weightiest (though just barely) we were served.
Also, the six-wing order size allows people to mix and match.
And though the judges felt the Yukon Gold name (a mix of hot
and honey mustard) should be changed to YK Gold, there was
near consensus on it as the best flavour of the evening. The wing
flavour and texture/meatiness of the plates we were served
were exceptional, ranking second and third in those categories,
Top Survey Quotes
“I hate to say that I was right,
and biased, but I was. Best
wings in town.”
“Everything about this
experience reeks of average …
even the company is starting to
Hot and Yukon Gold
$3/6 or $5.92/lb
“As a regular, this is the bar
I love to hate. I know the
staff will treat me right and
always give me what I want,
but I’ve never met an Irish
pub I’d visit in a market with
more than one option.”
Storming the City
A Look at Queer Culture in YK
by Nicole Garbutt
“Yaaa Homos!” exclaims Iman Kassam from behind her drum
kit at last year’s Folk on the Rocks Music Festival. Kassam,
who came to Yellowknife from Africa by way of Toronto,
holds her drumsticks in the air, flashing the audience a
glimpse of her tattooed arms and rows of colorful braided
bracelets. She’s just finished telling the crowd about the
upcoming NWT Pride Festival, which she is directing. Also
plugging Pride is blues rocker Grey Gritt, dressed head-totoe in black, giving her cherry red electric guitar extra pop.
“We hope to see you there,” says Gritt, “because you will
certainly be seeing us.”
but a storm was coming, a storm of queer culture and
awareness. As a co-chair of It Gets Better Yellowknife, a youth
organization aimed at outreach, education and awareness
for queer issues both locally and around the world, I realized
that change was in the air. Principals were thanking us for
coming into their schools, anonymous donors were sending
us funds, and news sources wanted to talk to us about
queer kids. In our first interview with CBC radio, the host
announced, “Two local lesbians are sweeping the city…” as
if we were some natural disaster, a hurricane swirling over
Yellowknife in a storm of glitter and rainbows.
It was at this moment I realized something was brewing
in Yellowknife. The sun may have been shining that day,
Kassam explains why she decided to get involved in
Yellowknife’s inaugural pride festival.
Photo Nicole Garbutt
“The Toronto and Ottawa Pride season are such a huge part
of my coming out story; when I moved to Yellowknife and
summer was approaching I started getting that feeling, like
when you know it is going to rain, it’s Pride season…but it
“Beyond my sexual orientation, Pride helped me grow as a
person and I figured it could help others do the same,” she
I was born and raised in Yellowknife, and it has always, from
my own experiences, been a very welcoming and openminded city. From my own coming out in 2010, I have seen
a huge, but subtle wave of queer culture making its way
into the everyday. From the safe space posters depicting an
inverted rainbow triangle that decorate offices around town,
to the number of organizations and options that now exist for
people in our community to get together and share.
When my co-chair, Jacq Brasseur, and I started It Gets Better
Yellowknife, we were the only ones, but we certainly were
not the first to advocate on behalf of LGBTQ (Lesbians, Gays,
Bisexuals, Transgendereds and Queers).
OutNorth was started in 1997 by a group of seven or eight
individuals in response to the Government of the Northwest
Territories’ plans to amend the family laws.
Founding board member Lorne Gushue says prior to
OutNorth there was still a community, but when the
government was seeking public input on the family laws,
a formal group was needed to speak on behalf of what he
calls, the “Alphabet Soup” community.
“The intention was to educate our members and broader
society by responding to the call for public input. What was
only supposed to last a few months lasted a decade,” he
OutNorth held Halloween and summer dances for years.
They put educational speakers in schools, managed a phone
line, held silent auctions and raised the first Pride flag at City
Gushue says the public was excited about the fun side of
Pride, but was less enthusiastic about the activism that went
In 2005, Yellowknife made national headlines when a city
councillor’s proposition of a Heterosexual Pride Day was
passed and scheduled for the day before Gay Pride Day.
“In his heart of hearts he thought what he was doing was
right, no one wakes up thinking, ‘I’m going to oppress
people today,’” Gushue recalls.
Shortly after the proclamation passed, it was rescinded in a
4-3 vote by city council.
OutNorth also offered its voice for equal adoption in the
NWT, as well as intervening in the court case for marriage
equality. Gushue says this monumental victory would be the
beginning of the end for OutNorth.
“It was a mixed blessing – OutNorth’s demise. We were
ecstatic to think that people were so safe and comfortable
that we were not needed, but only some people were safe
and comfortable,” he says, noting that OutNorth never had
a huge focus for youth or Trans, often used as an umbrella
term when referring to people who identify outside of the
binary gender system and can include, but is not limited to:
Bigender, Pangender, Genderqueer, Third Gender, TwoSpirit, Gender non-conforming or Agender.
“After marriage equality, when the dust settles, there are
still other issues. I think OutNorth more than exceeded its
mandate, but as new issues and new initiatives emerge,
there are new organizations to respond to the needs of the
Which brings us to the next generation.
In 2010, a rash of youth suicides, largely related to extreme
harassment over sexual orientation or gender identity, was
a wake up call to the North American queer community that
more had to be done to support its young people. Thanks to
the cyber era, harassment now extends past the perimeters
of the schoolyard and follows kids home, leaving no escape
from the torment.
American activist Dan Savage saw a way to use the Internet
to fight harassment and started It Gets Better – a web-based,
international video campaign meant to inspire and support
queer youth everywhere. U.S. President Barack Obama
and Canadian comic Rick Mercer are just two of the 50,000
supporters who have posted videos to date.
Here in Yellowknife, we would rather help make it better
Whenever we go into a classroom to start a discussion with
students – always with a focus on anti-harassment - the level
of thoughtful and inquisitive questions from the youth blows
me away. Whether it is empathizing with Trans people on
the challenges of dating, or asking if they would be allowed
to help start a Gay-Straight Alliance if they are straight, the
youth of this city are eager to learn about, and be, the next
generation of allies and queer culture in Yellowknife.
Kassam says she hopes to see more students at the Pride
Festival this summer, scheduled from August 9-11 at the Folk
on the Rocks site.
“Everything that worked in the first year we want to build on,”
she says, including workshops and all-ages style events.
The theme of Pride this year is Unite Us. Kassam explains that
the intention is to bring everyone together. “Individually, we
all come with different stories and different histories; there is
such a wide diversity of identities even within ourselves. We
want to represent all the letters of our acronym.”
Not only is Unite Us a fitting title for the NWT Pride Festival,
but I also think it suits the expanding presence of the queer
community of the city.
Now, in addition to It Gets Better Yellowknife and NWT
Pride, there is a committee within the Public Service
Alliance of Canada as well as Rainbow Gatherings – informal
opportunities to chat on the third Wednesday of the month
at Javaroma. The role of all of these groups and activities now
is more on education and celebration.
Just because we are lucky enough to live in Yellowknife, a
place with few outward objections, the fact is that around the
world, within our own country and federal government, that
is not the case. For example, Trans people are only accepted
into the Canadian Armed Forces if they have undergone
genital reassignment surgery, an option for many that is not
wanted or needed.
No knowledge is wasted and Pride is an amazing time to
learn. Learn about the people in your community; learn
about laws and policies around the world and within
Canada, and celebrate. Celebrate diversity because it makes
everything more interesting. There seems to be no break in
the storm of queer culture in Yellowknife, no signs of it letting
up. However, unlike a real storm, we do not have to wait for
the end to see a rainbow. They shine through all the time.
contined on page 46
Northland Utilities Yellowknife is in a new location effective August 12, 2013.
We will still be providing the same great service to our customers,
just in a new location.
Come and see us at
480 Range Lake Road
(In the Centre Ice Plaza next to BMO while our
existing building is undergoing renovations.)
Northland Utilities providing safe, reliable cost effective service to all our customers.
gs -- Sa
rs -- Ch
kenn -- Fr
of Queer Culture
in the NWT
By Nicole Garbutt
May 8, 1997
response to a call
for public input
on NWT Family
disbands as a
society in the NWT.
couples to adopt
The NWT Human
Rights Act is passed
and includes protection
or harassment because
of sexual orientation or
It Gets Better
under the Northern V
with an anonymous
online survey for
The NWT Human Rights
Commission is formed,
with a member of
OutNorth sitting as one
of the first commissioners.
NWT Human Rights
Commission and YK1
School District partner on
a free workshop about
creating inclusive schools
for sexual and gender
The City of Yellowknife declares
Heterosexual Pride Day to be
June 9, the day before Gay Pride
Day. The controversy makes
national headlines and the
proclamation is rescinded after a
coffee meeting between Mayor
Gord Van Tighem, a couple
of city councillors and board
members of OutNorth.
August 31 to
September 2, 2012
NWT Pride hosts a
three-day pride festival in
Yellowknife with all-ages
events and workshops, a
beer garden, musicians
and panel discussions
under the theme, Be
July 20, 2005
is legally recognized
in the Northwest
It Gets Better Yellowknife
attends the first National
(GSA) Summit in
Toronto as regional
through Egale Canada.
August 9-11, 2013
The second NWT
Pride Festival is
scheduled under the
theme Unite Us.
CITY OF YELLOWKNIFE
Submit your favourite shots from 2013 for
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CONTEST RUNS JULY 1 TO NOVEMBER 1, 2013
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Photo Pat Kane
An inside look at YK’s summer student scene
by Garrett Hinchey
I’m an unpaid summer student employee in Yellowknife.
No, really. I am.
Ok, well, I was. This summer, as a requirement for my
Masters degree in Journalism at the University of British
Columbia, I completed six weeks of unpaid interning at
Up Here magazine – an incredible experience that taught
me more in a mere month and a half about my profession
of choice than I ever thought possible.
That being said, while unpaid interning is commonplace
in the journalism profession (and many others) across
North America, the idea of going without a salary while
working over the summer up North is something that
would have most Yellowknife university students up in
arms. While our contemporaries down south often fight
for minimum-wage jobs, many of us return home to wellpaid positions within the Government of the Northwest
Territories or the City of Yellowknife, or with one of a
myriad of local small businesses – many of which come
with paid vacation hours and a Northern living allowance.
In fact, I was one of the city’s fortunate sons, as well.
Before my internship year, I spent four summers working
new jobs to
a city with
is quite the
in communications with the GNWT’s Department of
Industry, Tourism, and Investment. By the end of my
fourth summer, I was being paid approximately $30/
hour, which would work out to roughly $58,500/year.
It’s a pretty precipitous fall to go from that kind of salary to
being unpaid, even if it was voluntary and predicated by
school requirements, and it got me thinking about what
other summer students in Yellowknife go through on a
How hard is it to find a well-paying summer job in
Yellowknife? How do those who get them manage to do
so? Are things really so much better here than they are
anywhere else – or did I just hit the jackpot?
It’s a numbers game
I’m a figures guy at heart, so my quest to put together
the puzzle that is Yellowknife’s summer student scene
first led me, naturally, to statistics. Nobody knows exactly
how many students search for summer employment in
Yellowknife on a year-by-year basis, so coming up with
a ballpark number took a bit of sleuthing – and a lot of
educated guessing. I started by examining how many
students applied for Student Financial Assistance in the
North Slave Region: 935 in 2011/2012, according to
the latest GNWT data. Next, I multiplied that number
by percentage of the region’s population that resided
within the capital (just below 85 per cent, according to
2011 census data), giving me a ballpark number of 795
post-secondary students in the city every summer. The
stat doesn’t take into account students who don’t return
home, or local high school students looking for work,
but it was a base – a number to put to the massive young
workforce that invades the city every May. Conservatively,
I bumped it down to 700 students looking for work.
Adding 700 new jobs to a city with 13,000 people
employed (according to Statistics Canada) is quite
the undertaking. That’s just over five per cent of YK’s
labour market, and a good percentage of the burden
is taken on by the public sector. Work-starved
students pine for jobs in the GNWT, or with the City,
and this summer they’ve hired approximately 200
between them. The jobs are in high demand; every
summer student I spoke with while researching said
that they’d applied at one or both employers.
The reason these positions are so competitive?
“The pay and benefits are fantastic,” Joseph
Okpik-Cutten, a current summer student
with the GNWT, exclaims to me. “You
can basically blow the minds of other
students down south at school when
you explain how much you’re going to
be making during the summer.”
Continued on page 53