Redrawing the map
Hundreds gather to celebrate two new territories

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 02/99) - In the bright light of a blue moon, the aurora danced faintly in the Arctic sky above the assembled crowd of 600 who gathered in Yellowknife at the Ceremonial Circle to welcome the formation of two new territories.

"Tonight we make history," Speaker of the House Sam Gargan told the crowd. "Tonight we redraw the map of Canada."

The historic ceremony was opened with a prayer from Bishop Sperry, the Dettah Drummers performed a prayer song and speeches from Mayor Dave Lovell, new Commissioner of the Western Territories Dan Marion, and Member of Parliament for the Western Arctic, Ethel Blondin-Andrew.

"This is a great day for Northerners and a great day for Canada," Blondin-Andrew said.

"Our country has accomplished so much since Confederation was signed in 1967," she said. "By nature, Canadians are a progressive, community-minded people that make us the envy of the world."

"I am proud to be Canadian and proud to be a Northerner," Blondin-Andrew said.

Blondin-Andrew read from a statement from Prime Minister, Jean Chretien.

"Today, we have the great privilege of being part of history in the making," she read. "We redraw the map of Canada in peace and cooperation."

"In a world where borders too often lead to conflict, today reminds us how lucky we are to live in a country that joyfully embraces its many people and cultures."

Premier Jim Antoine welcomed the assembled crowd and spoke of the story that will be told to those who will follow.

"Some of you brought your children tonight," Antoine said. "This is an historic occasion - this is a time they will remember all their lives."

"This is a story that we will tell our children and our grandchildren," the premier continued. "We will say to them, 'I was there when division happened, I was there when the map was changed forever."

"I saw the new North begin."