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Linda Duford, a well-known fiddler and music teacher, was named Hay River’s Citizen of the Year.

Linda Duford was named Hay River’s Citizen of the Year at the annual gala of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce on March 7.
NNSL file photo

“I can’t believe it,” she said, just after receiving the award at the annual gala of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce on March 7. “You think you don’t really deserve it,” she said. “There are so many wonderful people in this town.” Duford, also a town councillor, opened The Purple Pick Studio in November 2018. At the gala, Niada Monkman, a pharmacy technician at Ring’s Pharmacy, was also honoured with her second Customer Service Excellence Award.

Covid-19 causes cancellation of AWG

Along with others from around the circumpolar world, 25 young athletes in Hay River were disappointed when the Arctic Winter Games (AWG) were cancelled. While there were no confirmed cases of the virus in Northern Canada as of March 7, the AWG set for Whitehorse that month was cancelled because of concerns about Covid-19. The decision was based on a recommendation from Catherine Elliott, the Yukon’s chief medical officer of health. “It is with a heavy heart that I have had to make this recommendation,” said Elliott. “We are disappointed.”

Polar Pond Hockey returns with changes

After a two-year absence, Polar Pond Hockey returned to Hay River on March 14-15 – at least the actual hockey on the ice of the river. A gala dance and a beer garden were cancelled because of concerns about the coronavirus. The NWT’s chief public health officer and the Town of Hay River recommended cancelling those parts of the event. “So we agreed, obviously,” said Terry Rowe, an executive member of Polar Pond Hockey, noting organizers did not wish to endanger anyone. Hockey games scheduled for March 13 were cancelled. In all, 34 teams registered, and about 28 showed up with an estimated 150 players.

Community centre and public library closed

On March 16, town council closed the Hay River Community Centre to the public due to fears of Covid-19. The town’s Visitor Information Centre and fire hall were also closed to the public. “The time to act is now,” said Judy Goucher, then the town’s senior administrative officer. Also on March 16, the GNWT cancelled all junior kindergarten to Grade 12 classes. And, NWT Centennial Library closed March 17. The GNWT said there was no sign of the coronavirus in the territory as of March 16.

NWT Track and Field Championships cancelled

The NWT Track and Field Championships were cancelled for 2020. The annual sports event, set for early June in Hay River, fell victim to fears of Covid-19. “We do this with deep regret, but know in our hearts that it is in the best interests of the people that live in the Northwest Territories and Hay River,” the organizers announced on March 17. The championships host more than 1,100 participants, including close to 900 out-of-town athletes. It is the largest annual sporting event in the NWT.

Checkpoints set up on Hay River Reserve

Chief April Martel of K’atlodeeche First Nation stands at one of the two checkpoints erected on March 19 to keep everyone except band members and essential services personnel off the Hay River Reserve because of fears of Covid-19.
NNSL file photo

Checkpoints were set up at entrances to the Hay River Reserve on March 19 to limit access because of fears of Covid-19. Only members of K’atlodeeche First Nation (KFN), including band members living in Hay River or elsewhere, and essential services personnel were permitted onto the reserve. KFN was trying to protect its members from Covid-19, especially elders. KFN declared a state of emergency on March 18 because of the global pandemic. “People are scared,” said Chief April Martel. The checkpoint was removed on May 15 to help alleviate the economic impact on Ehdah Cho Store, a grocery and gas bar operated by KFN.

Birthday parades begin in Hay River

Birthday celebrations switched to a creative and safe way of doing things as a result of Covid-19. Melanie King brought the idea of weekly birthday parades to Hay River. King came across the idea on Facebook. “And it was right before my son’s birthday, and I thought, ‘Oh, what a fantastic idea. I would love something like this for my son,'” she said. So she shared the idea, and many of her friends jumped at the opportunity to get involved. In less than 24 hours the first parade was organized for March 27 and featured about 30 vehicles, some decorated with signs and balloons. King’s son Louis turned 13 on March 27.

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Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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