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Communique: “Essential” Workers Returning to Evacuated Communities

Aug 29, 2023

To: All UNW Members
Re: “Essential” Workers

I hope that you, your friends, families, and pets are safe. I know that these are difficult times and everyone is anxious to return home.

The announcement from the City of Yellowknife that they will begin to call back essential workers to prepare the City for everyone’s return is a positive first step. But it has caused some confusion. I have received a few inquiries.

First, that announcement is relation to City of Yellowknife “essential” workers only.

Second, “essential” during a strike or the COVID pandemic is not the same as “essential” during this wildfire evacuation.

“Critical workers” may have been a less confusing phrase to use. At this time, “essential” is being defined by the different Employers and according to different individual situations and tasks required.

Please do not return to any community under an evacuation order until:

  • you have been contacted directly by your Employer with a return date and plan or,
  • the evacuation order for the community has been lifted.

I know it is difficult, please remain patient and follow the direction of the Government and your Employer so that we may all return home safely.

In solidarity,

Gayla Thunstrom
UNW President