Friday, 22 April 2016

Lark Productions seeking Canadian Artists to Cast in a new CBC series….

Lark Productions seeking Canadian Artists to Cast in a new CBC series….

"... Lark is now casting Canadian artists for a groundbreaking CBC series that celebrates art in all its forms. They are looking for artists from a wide variety of media.
Description – Lark Productions is searching for creative, confident, energetic artists looking to showcase their skills and talent on national TV. Lark is now casting Canadian artists for a groundbreaking CBC series that celebrates art in all its forms. They are looking for artists from a wide variety of media. From painters, sculptors and mixed media artists, to tattoo, pinata, graffiti, carving, clothing, and jewellery design, street chalk art, animators, toy or doll artisans. All creative media are accepted.
Lark Productions wants to hear from you if :
– You want an opportunity to showcase your talent on a televised, national stage
– You have basic art skills
– You are enthusiastic to take on an art challenge outside your specialized medium
– You are comfortable on camera and have an outgoing personality
– You aren't afraid to get a little competitive.
Casting is currently open so apply today by sending your name, photo, bio, contact info and 2-3 samples of your artistic work to Please include links to any relevant pages or media articles...."

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Yellowknife’s “dark empty hole” a haven for the homeless - Nearly one in five homeless in city's downtown core are Inuit

 April 21, 2016 - 1:15 pm

Yellowknife's "dark empty hole" a haven for the homeless

Nearly one in five homeless in city's downtown core are Inuit


"...YELLOWKNIFE — You don't have to go out of your way to find homeless people in the capital of the Northwest Territories.
That's because Yellowknife's downtown core, which city councillors and developers call "a dark empty hole," has become a haven for the homeless.
On April 20, when temperatures climbed to minus 5 C under sunny skies, many homeless people were hanging around the Yellowknife post office and in front of the Centre Square Mall on Franklin Avenue. [...]
Nearly one in five homeless surveyed were Inuit, many from western Nunavut, most had lived in the city for more than 10 years, and, like Palluq, more than three in four had been homeless for more than 180 days.
According to a similar 2014 survey of homelessness in Nunavut's three largest communities, the Government of Nunavut found fewer than 100 homeless Nunavummiut — a low number which many contested as being 10 times too low.
If that survey was accurate, this would mean there are only a handful of homeless, like in Cambridge Bay, where the GN plans to spend $470,000 in 2016-17 on a homeless shelter.
Some put the actual number of homeless closer to 400 in Yellowknife, where a one-bedroom rental apartment in the city centre costs $1,650 a month. [..]
"There have always been people on the streets. But there weren't the numbers we have now — they're extremely visible," said Gino Pin, an architect whose company designed several buildings in Cambridge Bay, including the Kiilinik school, the new Nunavut Arctic College residence and the hamlet office.
He's spearheaded the "Homeful Partnership" group in Yellowknife, which hopes to put money and energy go into a "housing first concept" instead of a downtown redevelopment beautification plan, which is also on the table.
But that doesn't solve the root problems of the downtown or homelessness, Pin said, citing Homeful Partnership's motto: "homes for our homeless, a city safe for everyone and a healthy vibrant downtown core."
With eight facilities for the homeless in Yellowknife, there is still not enough shelter for everyone, said Pin, who would like to see housing, perhaps with some form of supervision in place, built to take people off the city's cold streets...."

George Lessard
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Housing as a Health Care Investment - Children’s HealthWatch

"…Housing as a Health Care Investment - Children's HealthWatch
Housing as a Health Care Investment, is a new report released by the National Housing Conference that examines research conducted by Children's HealthWatch. The findings show that homelessness and unstable or unaffordable housing can harm the health of vulnerable infants and young children and contribute to higher health care spending.
Previous research from Children's HealthWatch demonstrated the harmful impact homelessness has on the health of young children and that the negative health outcomes are compounded when a mother is homeless both before and after her child is born. New findings from Children's HealthWatch researchers show affordable and stable housing made possible through rental assistance is associated with better health outcomes for infants in vulnerable families. …"
Direct URL to PDF

George Lessard
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Monday, 18 April 2016

An "ombudsman for the homeless" now there's an idea for #Yellowknife! @CJAD800

An "ombudsman for the homeless" now there's an idea for Yellowknife!
"...just over 3000 homeless people in Montreal.." in percentage/per capita, I wonder how that compares with Yellowknife eh?
"...Serge Lareault will be the voice of the city's over three thousand homeless people, identify their needs and create strategies to meet them, acting as a consultant, policy maker and a liaison for the city.
Lareault has been working on homelessness issues for the past 20 years - he headed up the community group L'itinéraire which also publishes the magazine of the same name. [...] Lareault said among his goals is to educate people about the homeless and to train city workers including police on how to deal with them.
"It's sure that in a city like Montreal, the relations are really not good. It's important to develop a vision at the SPVM to be sure that they are there to help the homeless and not to arrest them," said Lareault.
Pierre Gaudreau, coordinator for the RAPSIM homeless advocacy group, said it's a good step towards solving the myriad issues facing those living on the street.
"It's complementary with the action of the city services," said Gaudreau.
The city's goal is to reduce the number of its homeless by two-thirds by 2020. Its most recent figures showed just over 3000 homeless people in Montreal...."

George Lessard
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Friday, 8 April 2016

Arlene Hache's comments on [Yellowknife's] "...Downtown businesses say public drunkenness, violence alarming customers..."

Please read Arlene Hache's comments on this posting from CBC News via Facebook

Downtown businesses say public drunkenness, violence alarming customers
'There's not enough being done,' says Ragged Ass Barbers owner James McGaughey

Arlene Hache's comments
"…I am not sure if violence in the downtown has worsened in the last three months or not, but I have certainly seen people of all ages being attacked, harassed and frightened by the violence going on around them, in the mall and other parts of the downtown. There have been assaults and sexual assaults in broad daylight and some of those have been "random acts of violence toward strangers" who just happened to be walking down the street. Regardless, residents who witness downtown violence have a right to be in a public environment free of violence and fear.

All Yellowknifers, including the marginalized and vulnerable women and men downtown who are seen to be the problem deserve to feel and more importantly be safe. The suggestion that downtown violence is to be tolerated because the people involved know each other and it is just an escalated argument is a mischaracterization. It is also misplaced, disregarding, discriminatory, offensive and dangerous. It is the acceptance of violence as the norm that contributes to the downtown problem and is a key reason it has escalated over the years.

The RCMP, the City of Yellowknife and some service providers have taken the position that the downtown problem is one of addictions rather than one of violence and it has served to muddy the waters - leaving Yellowknifers frustrated, angry and at risk. It has led residents, particularly those who are homeless and marginalized to believe that they are unprotected and so need to protect themselves because no-one else will.

In my experience, there is a stark difference between managing addictions and managing violence. If we don't get that straight, all residents of Yellowknife will continue to be at risk. When I was the Executive Director of the emergency shelter for women who were homeless, we housed women who were intoxicated to make sure they were safe and didn't freeze. They were incredible women with a superior level of strength, courage and pure determination that many people failed to recognize or honour. The women withstood inhumane levels of violence and victimization from childhood onward and were far more at risk of being assaulted and violated than they were of assaulting others.

Having said that, on occasion some of the women responding from trauma exhibited threatening and violent behaviour that was self-harming or targeted other residents and staff. In those instances, the RCMP were called to intervene because keeping the community safe is exactly their job. I took the position that the women could return the very next day if they were stabilized and able to not threaten others. In the 25 years I was at the Centre only three were not able to return for long periods of time because of a long-established pattern of violent behaviour - a pretty amazing outcome when you consider some women who stayed at the Centre were refused admittance to Stanton Hospital and even the Fort Smith Women's Correctional Centre because they were considered too high-risk.

Over the years, many of the RCMP responded quickly understanding how risky the shelter environment was with only one person on staff. Others refused in spite of the risk, waiting for the fatal blow before agreeing to show up. One night I had to leave my house and threaten to sit my ass at the RCMP detachment until they agreed to remove a woman with a long history of violence from the shelter who was threatening staff and other residents.

Bardak says that having a roundtable for discussing these issues is missing, but in fact there have been multitudes of navel-gazing roundtable discussions on homelessness, addictions and mental health issues over the past two decades. The City of Yellowknife disbanded one of those roundtables to establish a Community Advisory Board because they didn't like what they heard at the table and decided to go it on their own. The Yellowknife Homeful demanded housing NOW for homeless individuals two years ago, but did little more than join in the navel gazing exercise.

What Yellowknifers and taxpayers across the North really need to consider is this: A ton of health and social programs that purport to meet the needs of Northerners with addictions, mental illness and other social issues that contribute to homelessness have been established, but do they work or contribute to the problem?

The former Minister of Justice Dave Ramsay who was sent packing said the justice system in the North was the best in Canada. The current Minister of Health and Social Services Glen Abernethy who should have been sent packing claimed the same about health services in the North. So, according to those two leaders - no see, no hear, no do.

In terms of Yellowknife, there are five emergency shelters, one for men, one for women, one for families, one for women and families fleeing violence and one for youth. There are three transition houses, one for men, one for families and one for women fleeing violence - none for the women housed at the Centre for Northern Families.

The Bailey House operated by the Salvation Army and Lynn's Place operated by the YWCA were given mortgage-free buildings worth millions of $$ by the Yellowknife Homelessness Coalition. Both organizations receive $200,000 core funding each year to provide wrap-around services to tenants and both charge them between $900 - $1,700 a month in rent. Both organizations established rules that prevented the people they said they served from accessing their services and both lobbied to be excluded from the Residential Tenancies Act so they could evict people without cause and without notice. In fact, the Bailey House was half-empty for years as a result of the rules.

The City of Yellowknife lobbied to establish a day shelter where people who are intoxicated could go during the day, but many of the people hanging out in the banks and post office say they are banned from going to the facility. No doubt because they were violent, but then what do you expect when people under the influence are gathered together under one roof. The day shelter concept is on its 4th version so what else do you need to know to tell you it is the wrong approach.

Aside from the shelter and transition house, the Salvation Army is funded to delver a withdrawal management program for people with addictions and a residential program for people struggling with mental illness and mental health problems. Two of the women from the shelter at the Centre for Northern Families lasted a week before they were unceremoniously tossed to the street with their belongings packed in garbage bags.

Then you have Stanton Territorial Hospital that either refuses to admit people with mental illness or boots them out within a day or two - in theory well enough to survive, but in reality killing themselves once they are out the door. In addition, the Tree of Peace offers addiction and wellness programs and has a complete monopoly on deciding who and when people will go for treatment. Yellowknife Health and Social Services has staff assigned to coordinate services for adult people with mental illness and disabilities and Family Counselling has a number of counsellors who won't get out of their office. There is also a healing program for men who use violence in relationships and a healing program for residential school survivors.

Whew!!! Imagine what that looks like to MLAs outside of Yellowknife who have to explain to their constituents why there are no services in the smaller communities.

Now for those who persistently portray that I am a complainer without offering solutions, I offer this: Make the services who have been given taxpayer $$ accountable for their non-service. The RCMP is not responsible for addressing addictions, but they are responsible for community safety. They need to step up and do their job…."

George Lessard
Suite 108, 600 Gitzel St, (Ft Gary apts)
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
X1A 2R4
Cell/text/iPhone /FaceTime # (867) 445-9193

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Lakes near Yellowknife contaminated with arsenic, mercury years after mine closing

Lakes near Yellowknife contaminated with arsenic, mercury years after mine closing  by IVAN SEMENIUK - SCIENCE REPORTER - The Globe and Mail - Published Wednesday, Apr. 06, 2016 "… The Ottawa study includes data from 25 lakes within a 25-kilometre radius of Yellowknife. In some cases, it found arsenic concentrations in the water as high as 136 micrograms per litre – more than 13 times the recommended limit for drinking water and 27 times the level deemed adequate for the protection of aquatic life. The highest concentrations were found in lakes within four kilometres of the Giant Mine site. […]
André Corriveau, the territory's chief public health officer, said he first learned of the findings last fall and has been gathering information for a public-health advisory, which he hopes to issue before the lakes thaw.
Dr. Corriveau added that his concern about the potential health risk is "low but not zero," since it is unlikely that anyone would be drinking from the lakes on a regular basis. The lakes are not widely used for recreation, he said, and have only recently become more accessible because of a new road. But he said anyone who may be camping or fishing should be made aware of the contamination. […]
Another surprising find relates to the elevated mercury levels in the lakes. The chief concern is not the total amount of mercury found, but the unusually high proportion that occurs as methyl mercury, a compound that is more deadly to humans than mercury alone. In lakes nearest the mines roaster, up to 44 per cent of the total mercury is in this form. The Ottawa researchers posit that bacteria living off sulphur emissions from the mine are responsible for converting mercury into methyl mercury.
While environmental contamination from the Giant Mine, along with a smaller mine that closed in 1971, is not a new theme, most of the attention until now has been directed toward the mine sites rather than the surrounding region. […]
Data from ongoing monitoring of 98 lakes by the territory has now been posted as an open file by the Northwest Territories Geological Survey.
"There's really been a ramping-up of research efforts," Dr. Palmer said, adding that a clearer picture of the extent and activity of the contaminants would be essential for determining what kind of risk they may pose.
Adam Houben, a PhD student who is lead author on the study and who did much of the sampling and analysis of the lakes, said the findings offer an example of the unforeseen consequences that can arise from resource development, much of which takes place outside of the public's awareness.
"There are real impacts on communities and on the greater landscape as well," Mr. Houben said. …'
Factors Affecting Elevated Arsenic and Methyl Mercury Concentrations in Small Shield Lakes Surrounding Gold Mines near the Yellowknife, NT, (Canada) Region by Adam James Houben, Rebecca D'Onofrio, Steven V Kokelj, Jules M Blais Published: April 6, 2016
NWT Open File 2015-06 The concentration of arsenic in lake waters of the Yellowknife area

George Lessard
Suite 108, 600 Gitzel St, (Ft Gary apts)
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
X1A 2R4
Cell/text/iPhone /FaceTime # (867) 445-9193
Skype themediamentor

Monday, 4 April 2016

Federal housing authority to address 'unique needs of housing in the North,' says CEO

Federal housing authority to address 'unique needs of housing in the North,' says CEO
"...The federal budget allocated up to $177 million over two years, to provinces and territories through the Investment in Affordable Housing initiative: $8 million will go to Yukon, $12 million to the Northwest Territories and $76.7 million to Nunavut.
The remaining funds will be spent to address housing in Nunavik ($50 million), the Inuvialuit Settlement Region ($15 million) and Nunatsiavut ($15 million).
Overall, the federal budget proposes $2.3 billion in new spending to make housing more affordable for Canadians, with $739 million of that set aside for First Nations, Inuit and Northern housing.
"The state of the housing stock is abysmal," in First Nations communities, Siddall said. "The fact it exists in a country like ours is something we should be ashamed of."..."

Saturday, 2 April 2016

3rd NWT Anti-Poverty Roundtable wraps up

3rd Anti-Poverty Roundtable wraps up

YELLOWKNIFE (March 31, 2016) - Representatives from the GNWT, Aboriginal governments, communities, non-government organizations and businesses met in Yellowknife this week to continue collaborative efforts to identify and implement effective solutions to combat poverty in the Northwest Territories. They shared success stories, provided updates and set shared priorities for the coming year.

The Roundtable focused on the five pillars from the Anti-Poverty Strategic Framework:

  • Children and Family Support
  • Healthy Living and Reaching our Potential
  • Safe and Affordable Housing
  • Sustainable Communities
  • Integrated Continuum of Services

The Territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan is intended to be a living document. The Roundtable was structured to build on successes and set priorities for the upcoming year.

Roundtable discussions will form the basis of the Progress Report and ‎update to the Territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan.


"Eliminating poverty is a shared responsibility. This is why it is important to have these annual roundtables as it provides an opportunity for all of us to share successes and set attainable measures for the coming year to help us achieve our goal."

 – Glen Abernethy, Minister of Health and Social Services\

Quick Facts

  • Working Together – An Action Plan to Reduce and Eliminate Poverty in the NWT was tabled June 1, 2015, in the Legislative Assembly.
  • GNWT Anti-Poverty Action Plan Building on the Strengths of Northerners 2014/15-2015/16 was tabled in October 2013.
  • Building on the Strengths of Northerners: A Strategic Framework toward the Elimination of Poverty in the NWT was tabled in June 2013.
  • The GNWT allocates $500,000 annually from the Anti-Poverty Fund to Aboriginal, regional, and community-based groups for projects to fight poverty.

Media Links

Media Contacts

Andrew Livingstone
Senior Cabinet Communications Advisor
Office of the Premier and Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
(867) 767-9000 ext. 11091