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Schools in Yellowknife are closed but arrangements to enable successful learning are ongoing. 

Yellowknife Education District No. 1 (Yk 1) has secured a grant worth close to $8,000 for the operation of its food programs through the Breakfast Club of Canada, as Tram Do, Yk 1’s director of corporate services told a teleconference meeting of trustees on April 14.

“We received confirmation that our application was approved. I’m very happy to announce that our initiative has taken off,” Do said. “We welcome additional funding for the program as we do not know how long schools will be out due to Covid-19. We have sufficient funds to carry us through to June 30 and hopefully a little bit longer. We’re going to continue trying to get more funding.”

Jodi Lee Lewis, principal of William McDonald School, submitted the application to Breakfast Club of Canada’s Special Covid-19 funding program at the end of March. The money will be used for gift cards for students who normally have access to the meal program at Yk 1 schools.

Even though schools were closed down for the remainder of the academic year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Yk 1 and Yellowknife Catholic Schools are continuing their food outreach programs for low-income families through a gift-card system.

Both school boards have received assistance from Canadian Tire and Co-op stores, who donated $1,000 and $500, respectively, towards the card program. Selected families can pick up the cards at the Co-op and Independent stores.

Yk 1 has spent $10,000 so far on the gift cards, Do said.

RELATED REPORTING: Schools, businesses step up to continue food programs for families

Green energy project edging closer

Do had more good news, telling trustees that Yk 1’s grant application for pellet boilers at two schools was going well and had passed the technical review stage.

Sir John Franklin High School is heated with a pellet boiler, located on the hill behind the school. Pellets are stored in the hopper, at right, and are fed into the blue boiler unit. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

I got confirmation from the Department of Infrastructure. Now it’s up for the director’s approval. We might get funding to go ahead with the two pellet boilers for Mildred Hall School and Range Lake North.” 

The federal government’s GHG Grant Program would cover $900,000 of the $1.2 million to $1.4 million total cost of two pellet boilers. Yk 1 would contribute $350,000 to $400,000.

RELATED REPORTING: Yk 1 efforts to go green with pellet boilers picks up steam

Yk 1 submitted its application for the grant in March. If approval goes through, the boilers would be installed in 2022.

The boilers burn wood pellets made from sawmill wastes and sawdust, and emit less emissions than conventional heating systems.

On an annual basis, the boilers could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 578 tons, diesel oil by 209 litres and save $97,000, Do told a trustees meeting in February.

Pellet boilers have been installed at 12 government buildings in Yellowknife over the last several years, with the first installed in 2006 at the North Slave Correctional Facility, said Department of Infrastructure spokesperson Greg Hanna.

Others include the Stanton Hospital, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, the Legislative Assembly building, several schools and other buildings.

With more than 30 pellet boiler installations across the territory, Hanna estimated that $1.5 million in heating bills has been saved, and 9,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases is offset annually.

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Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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