Yellowknifers plan community beach patrols after drowning

A group of Yellowknifers are forming a community group called 'Lifeguards for Lodune' to patrol Long Lake beach following the drowning of a seven-year-old boy last week.

Lodune Shelley, 7, drowned last week at the Long Lake beach

A group of Yellowknifers is forming a community group called 'Lifeguards for Lodune' to patrol Long Lake beach.

Lodune Shelley, 7, drowned there last week.

Yellowknife mother Tanya Silke has been recruiting locals to watch children swimming until there are actual lifeguards available.

"I've seen a lot of blame put on various people on social media sites. People have blamed the territorial government, they've blamed the city, they've even blamed the family of the young boy that passed," she said.

Tanya Silke, a mother in Yellowknife, is part of a group of people in the city who are forming a community beach patrol. (CBC)

"I feel that blaming is completely counterproductive and it doesn’t really matter in the end why we don’t have lifeguards here now... the whole point is to get lifeguards here."

The group will meet at Javaroma Tuesday evening to make a patrol plan.

Members also plan to lobby the territory and the city for lifeguards.

Silke said "Lifeguards for Lodune" is a safety net to put into place while parents and guardians wait for the real thing. She said anyone who wants to get involved can attend the meeting, or call her at 867-446-4874.

Confusion over beach supervision

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

Since the drowning, there has been political confusion over who should be responsible for supervising the popular beach.

The city says it's the government's responsibility because it is a territorial park. Park officials say there's signage saying "swim at your own risk".

Robert Loken, a water safety expert for Parks Canada, said the public should take some responsibility upon themselves.

"We have those beautiful parts of the country that are so tempting, but we need to be aware that in those situations, it's somewhat swim at your own risk. We quite often hear stories of people who over estimate their own abilities. It's really a question of making sure that the decisions we make are the right decisions," he said.

Loken said people can learn more about outdoor swimming and safety precautions from the Lifesaving Society of Canada.