'Dear Fort Liard': Radio special airs messages of hope for N.W.T. community battling COVID-19

·2 min read

CKLB Radio's Saturday request show is already appointment listening for many country music fans in the Northwest Territories.

But this Saturday, the station is doing something special to generate support for one of the territory's few coronavirus-stricken communities.

A release sent Friday announces that the territorial government is sponsoring a special edition of the show dubbed "Dear Fort Liard," where guests will air messages of hope for the hamlet of 500 that has been under tight restrictions since COVID-19 was discovered in the community.

"It is our pleasure to join forces with them ... to ensure our friends and family in Fort Liard know that we all wish them the best," reads a quote attributed to Rob Ouellette, CEO of the Native Communications Society, which owns CKLB.

"The communities of the Nahendeh riding are small and residents can feel secluded from others — this makes connecting and supporting with one another especially important," reads another attributed to Shane Thompson, the local MLA.

The request show, which airs Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., will kick off "a weeklong campaign soliciting supportive messages from across the territory," the release says.

That will include voicemail messages and cell phone videos shared on social media and played over the airwaves to residents in Fort Liard.

The territorial government will also "collaborate with Fort Liard's community radio station to provide audio from the request show free-of-charge for those who may want to re-listen."

As of Friday morning, Fort Liard had six confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 50 people in isolation, after its first case led to a community cluster and concerns of further spread.

In response, the chief public health officer mandated a 14-day local containment order, banning gatherings, closing schools and shuttering non-essential businesses, among other restrictions.

Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images
Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images

"We're amid a local crisis that's tested our faith in everything good," reads a quote attributed to Chief Eugene Hope of Acho Dene Koe First Nation in Fort Liard. "However, we do believe our people and community will come through this with a strong resolve."

"This situation brings to light the need for everyone to be good to one another, to remain calm and come together and support each other."

The campaign is set to run until Jan. 30, when local restrictions are set to lift, "and may be extended depending on the status of the cluster in Fort Liard."

Northerners can participate by calling 1-855-966-2552 to leave a message to be played on the air. Between 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday, you can also make a live request.

Videos can be sent to dearfortliard@cklbradio.com anytime before Jan. 30.

"Start your message with 'Dear Fort Liard…', and build your message of support from there," the release suggests.