Emily Dawson and Kaitlyn

Emily Dawson says she can now walk up to five kilometres in one go, thanks in part to the company of her granddaughter Kaitlyn (CBC)

A Yellowknife grandmother who overcame a serious back injury 20 years ago is now walking without pain, and urging politicians and local residents to join her in being active.

Emily Dawson was hurt on the job 20 years ago.  She injured her back and was confined mostly to her wheelchair and on painkillers.

But thanks to months of physiotherapy, a positive change in attitude, and a special wheelchair that strengthened the muscles in her legs, today she can walk on her own two feet.

About a month ago, she started walking — short distances, at first — at the fieldhouse track. And every Sunday now, she's able to get up to five kilometres in, stretching her legs on along the track.

"I don't think anybody could've predicted that I would be actually able to walk five kilometres at a stretch," she says. "I certainly couldn't even imagine it six months ago."

She's grateful to be able to do it herself now, but she couldn't have gotten where she is today without the help of people like her granddaughter, Kaitlyn.

"Me and my brother used to take turns pushing her but now she can actually walk by herself," Kaitlyn says. "I like walking by her and I sometimes jog in front of her and she [keeps] me company."

A former nurse, Dawson says she wants everyone to live active and healthy lifestyles.

So she sent out invitations to members of city council, the territorial health minister, MLA's and everyone she knows to join her.

"I've been here several times when our premier's been here and that's awesome," Dawson says. "He clips by me, I mean he really goes at a good clip," she laughs.

Lawson says she hopes to promote healthy living at an event at the fieldhouse in the near future.