Ecology North to get new digs


Kim Rapati, seen here at a screening of the documentary Peace Out at the Hay River library Thursday, Oct. 11, will soon have a new office in Hay River for her work with Ecology North.
— Jesse Winter/ NNSL photo

After years of effort, Ecology North is opening an office in Hay River.Kim Rapati has been a fixture in the ecology and environmental movement in the NWT since moving to the North three years ago. While she’s been commuting to Yellowknife for most of her work, by the end of October she’ll finally have an office to call home in Hay River.

The big dream that we had was trying to start up an office in Hay River. There are a lot of things that go on here, and I think that public education is a bit of a gap. Ecology North I think is good at filling that gap,” Rapati said.

Ecology North gets no core funding from government, meaning Rapati’s work is all funded on a project-by-project basis. The effort to eke out some dollars to set up an office in Hay River was a challenge, but she said it’s finally coming together.

It’s actually really exciting because from all the projects I worked on over the summer, we generated enough admin income for me to set up an office here.,” she said.

This week is Waste Reduction Week, and Ecology North has a number of initiatives going on to help stimulate discussion and educate residents on ways they can reduce their environmental footprint.

On Oct. 11, Rapati hosted workshops on winterizing your home and a screening of Peace Out, a documentary that chronicles the rapidly-expanding energy projects in the Peace region of British Columbia – just a little ways down the watershed from Hay River.

The doc also talks about the need to for everyone to reduce their energy consumption, and highlights some of the dangers associated with an unchecked drain on the power grid.

The week of events is the result of a partnership with the Arctic Energy Alliance, a first for Ecology North and something that Rapati said she’s very excited about.

It’s a really awesome partnership that we’ve made because Arctic Energy Alliance has a lot of technical expertise on energy issues, and Ecology North has a lot of hands-on literacy and friendly outreach programs like our worm composting,” she said.

Pat Burnstad is a recent convert to the worm composting cause. She got her worms with help from Rapati, and has since provided them with some very comfy accommodations.

I have a worm apartment building. I started out with buckets, but it was so messy and a friend found this worm house online. It’s three containers with holes in the bottom of each,” Burnstad said.

Worm composting is a great way to generate top-quality soil for gardens, and is especially important in the North due to the lack of arable soil, Burnstad said.

While it took a little while for Burnstad to get accustomed to her red wigglers, she has been getting about one four-gallon bucket of compost per month with her new system.

I’m getting more familiar with them. We’re getting to understand each other,” Burnstad said, laughing. She said the worm ‘apartment’ helps increase her tenants’ productivity, but there is one luxury they don’t enjoy.

They still don’t get cable,” Burnstad joked.