On March 18, we announced to our members, partners, and NWT residents that we were postponing all of our face-to-face programming indefinitely in light of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.
The territorial response to COVID-19 was well-orchestrated and comprehensive. We have had only 5 known cases to date, all of which recovered. The NWT has now been COVID-free since April 20. In light of the effectiveness of the territorial response, on May 12, the Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Kami Kandola, released Emerging Wisely, a multi-phased plan to ensure the territory emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic “safely and wisely.” The NWT entered Phase 1 on May 15; the move to Phase 2 is expected as early as June 12.
Phase 2 allows for larger outdoor gatherings, including organized events like bingo and community feasts; the reintroduction of some indoor sports, day programming, and fitness classes; and the reopening of community and youth centres with reduced capacity. The caveats to this easing? Physical distancing must be maintained, and strong infection control measures must be in place.
As restrictions ease, the NWTRPA has been receiving requests for in-person training. In a typical year, our On the Land Programs Consultant would be spending the spring and early summer travelling to communities to deliver canoe safety training to organizations preparing for canoe trips, while our Director of Professional Development would be delivering High Five training to summer camp staff.
While we would love the opportunity to connect with recreation leaders and community members in person, there continues to be a lot of uncertainty in relation to the pandemic. After much reflection and consideration, we have decided to continue to postpone in-person programming that involves travel (both our travel to your community and community member travel to Yellowknife). There is the chance that travel could contribute to community spread of the virus. We are also mindful of the fact that while one person or organization might invite us to their community or feel comfortable travelling to Yellowknife for programming, others in the same community may not feel comfortable. Finally, as a non-profit organization with limited resources, there is the possibility that funds and staff time would be invested in events that would have to be cancelled if there is an outbreak.
Instead, we will use this time to continue to support recreation and recreation leaders remotely, as we have since the pandemic began. Over the last three months, we have developed and shared resources, hosted remote networking events, organized virtual educational opportunities, celebrated and promoted successful local COVID-appropriate initiatives, and participated in the Aboriginal Sport Circle’s innovative wellness programming series. Lasy week, we launched a new micro-granting program that is meant to promote physical activity while still following the current public health directives (learn more about our new ARC grants here). We have also been using this time to review and enhance program content and delivery, so that when we are able to host in-person programming again, we are offering the best possible training and professional development opportunities to our members and NWT residents.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff if there is some way that we can support recreation programming in your community.
Take care, The NWTRPA Staff