Unique approaches were the mark of the NWT in the 1970s. The world’s only travelling pool, “Corky the Barge”, stopped at various communities on its annual summer voyage down the Mackenzie River in the early 70’s. During the frequent stops of this above ground pool constructed aboard a river barge, qualified instructors provided swimming and water safety instruction to local residents. The success of this program prompted the GNWT to design an above-ground pool suitable for northern conditions. These seasonal pools are now a common feature in many isolated northern communities.
I only became directly involved with Devolution in 2014, managing petroleum resources, but my father would be very proud of the list of all the jurisdictions the GNWT has taken on over the years. He entered politics in 1970 (and served in public office for 20 years) with the principle motivation and prime objective of doing just this… NWT residents governing themselves.
Editor’s note: Ian’s father was Tom Butters. Tom served in the Legislative Assembly from 1970 to 1991. He was elected five times by the people of Inuvik and served in 13 different Ministerial portfolios including: Natural and Cultural Affairs; Economic Development and Tourism; Social Services; Health; Education, Justice and Public Services; Public Utilities Board; Government Services; Energy, Mines and Resources Secretariat; Housing Corporation; and Municipal and Community Affairs. Notably, Tom was Minister of Finance when the GNWT took over responsibility for the GNWT finances. Until that time the Commissioner, appointed by Ottawa, had controlled the financial portfolio. Tom worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth transition. It was during his tenure as Minister that Northern Residents Tax Deduction was introduced.
Delaney Poitras (Youth Ambassador program)
My experience as a youth ambassador was amazing! I was happy to make new friends from all over the NWT. Because I was not able to play in the AWGs or Canada Games, I applied to be a youth ambassador and was still able to experience the games in a different way. Everything I had learned was very positive. To this day I am still friends with some of the other Ambassadors.
My husband got a flat tire on the way to Yellowknife while driving up to our wedding and narrowly missed the last ferry of the day (our wedding was the next morning). When he got on the ferry, he got out of the truck to stretch his legs and our dog, Libby, put her paw on the lock button! It took a bunch of crew members to break into the truck. Then, my husband thought he’d have to sleep in the truck because that little gas station in Providence was closed. The family who runs it noticed him and got up to give him fuel. It was truly a testament to how helpful northerners can be!
Caron Paulovich [formerly Brewer]
As a recently separated single mom in 1968, I arrived in Yellowknife on a Wednesday, went job hunting on Thursday, scored a job interview for Friday and was told to report for work in the Steno Pool on Monday morning! I was interviewed and hired by Rosemary Scott [later Turner]. I remember her most encouraging words: “Come to work here, gain some of your confidence back.” I loved working in the Pool. I met some great friends and learned how the GNWT functioned. I was supervised by Barbara Wright and my first mentor was Bea Beaulieu. Then after three months I had to mentor a newcomer, Doris McPherson. From that Steno Pool there were ample opportunities to move on to clerical, typist and secretarial positions. I spent nearly 12 years working for the GNWT in various secretarial and clerical capacities and was ever thankful for the encouragement, support and excitement it brought to my life! There were so many opportunities for advancement within the government. When I first started out with GNWT, it was at the entry level typist position, then I advanced on to clerk-typist, then clerk-steno, then steno, then secretary, then executive secretary. I did all of them, ending up Executive Secretary to Deputy Commissioner John H. Parker and providing back-up to Commissioner Hodgson’s office. It was truly a thrill of a lifetime as lots was happening in those days (1968-1979)! I am also so grateful to Rosemary, who GAVE ME HOPE!