The Government of the Northwest Territories says it's on its own when it comes to supervising two popular beaches in the territory.

The government decided to hire waterfront beach attendants, despite a community call to hire trained lifeguards following the death of a seven-year-old boy last summer. 

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Lodune Shelley, 7, died last summer after drowning in Long Lake, which is part of the Fred Henne Territorial Park. (Facebook)

Dave Ramsay, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, says the territorial government sent out a Request for Proposals for organizations or companies to step up and help provide lifeguard services at the beaches, but no one replied. 

'There is no magic wand that one can wave and magically lifeguards will appear.' - Dave Ramsay, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment

The City of Yellowknife also "declined our offer to assist," he said.  

The beach attendants will be trained in CPR and First Aid as well as shallow water rescues. Ramsay says they'll also head to schools in June to help teach kids about water safety.

The key points they want kids — and their parents — to know are:

  • Always swim with a buddy
  • Wear a lifejacket if you can't swim
  • Children should be within arms reach of parent/guardian
  • Parent/guardian should always keep an eye on children

"We believe we have a role to play at the parks here — specifically at Fred Henne and Hay River, our highest usage beaches — and we're going to set out to do that."

Commitment to lifeguards

Ramsay says he hasn't given up on the idea of hiring lifeguards at the beaches.

Though some thought otherwise, he says money isn't an issue, but says it's an ongoing challenge for the government to find qualified lifeguards who are available for seasonal, summer work.

"There is no magic wand that one can wave and magically lifeguards will appear. 

"We'll try again. And if there are companies or organization out there can provide that service in the future, we'd like to talk to them," Ramsay said.