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Media Release: 19th Triennial Convention Highlights

Nov 30, 2023

YELLOWKNIFE: The 19th UNW Triennial Convention convened on Tuesday, November 28 and adjourned on Thursday, November 30. Guest speakers included Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions; PSAC National President, Chris Aylward; and Louise Casselman, PSAC Social Justice Fund Officer.

PSAC Regional Executive Vice President North, Josée-Anne Spirito, presided over the UNW Executive elections as well as the election of 12 UNW delegates and 5 observers to PSAC National Convention, to be held in 2024. 

Elections for the UNW President and two Vice Presidents were held on Day 3 of Convention, and all three candidates were acclaimed. The results of the Regional Vice Presidents and Equity Vice President elections, which were conducted in the months leading up to Convention, were also announced:

  • UNW President: Gayla Thunstrom
  • UNW 1st Vice President: Melvin Larocque
  • UNW 2nd Vice President: Annette Thompson
  • Regional Vice President Beaufort Delta-Sahtu: Maria Amestoy
  • Regional Vice President Dehcho: vacant – election will be re-run
  • Regional Vice President Fort Smith: Lauraine Armstrong
  • Regional Vice President Hay River: Jeff Groenewegen
  • Regional Vice President Kimberlite: Mike Critch
  • Regional Vice President North Great Slave: Todd Parsons
  • Regional Vice President Somba K’e: Randy Thompson
  • Equity Vice President: Brad Brake

During a Full Executive meeting immediately following the close of Convention, RVP Todd Parsons was presented with a UNW Life Membership, in recognition of his many years of dedication and service to the labour movement. Todd served as UNW President from 2002 to 2021, and prior to that was the RVP for North Great Slave and an executive officer of his Local. 

This will be the second term for Gayla Thunstrom as UNW President. Previously, she held the position of UNW 1st Vice President since 2005. Gayla came to the NWT in 1988, working as a Licensed Practical Nurse at Stanton Territorial Hospital, where she first became active in her Local as the Secretary. She was elected Vice-President of her Local and was later elected as Regional Vice-President for the North Great Slave region.

“It's been an honour to represent UNW members over the past two years through some very difficult circumstances,” said Thunstrom. “Our membership is energized, motivated, and have shown that they are ready and willing to go the distance to fight for all northern workers. I look forward to the challenges ahead and am excited about what the future holds for the Labour Movement in the NWT.”

This will also be Melvin Larocque’s second term as 1st Vice President. He previously served on the UNW Executive as Equity Vice President from 2018-2021, and prior to that was the President of UNW Local 6 in Hay River.

Annette Thompson joins the UNW Executive from Local 1, where she has been an executive officer of that Local since 2021.

The new Executive looks forward to serving and working with members over the next three years.


The UNW Triennial Convention is the forum where union delegates adopt resolutions that direct how the Union will spend its money and decide what priorities it should pursue until the next Convention. All of the decisions made at Convention are done through voting by the delegates in attendance.

Delegates are elected from and by fellow members of their respective Locals. Each Local is also given an opportunity to submit resolutions to a convention.