The NWT Recreation and Parks Association is apologizing for the harm caused by calling its winter walking challenge 'Walk to Tuk' and said it's temporarily changing the name of the event for 2022 to the NWTRPA Walking Challenge.
It said it will consult with participants and N.W.T. residents to "determine an appropriate name" it will use in the future for the event.
The winter walking challenge is the association's flagship event where people are encouraged to create teams and conceptually walk what it refers to as the distance of the Big River, between Zhatıé Kų́ę́ (Fort Providence) and Tuktoyaktuk, which is 1,658 kilometres.
In a statement on its website, the president of the association's board of directors, Derek Squirrel, said the association received feedback in January 2021 that the name of the event "was disrespectful and harmful to survivors of the residential schools in Canada."
Squirrel added that the name of the event "created an unfortunate connection between the event and the experiences of three boys and residential school survivors who tried to walk back to Tuktoyaktuk/Tuktuuyaqtuuq after escaping from residential school in Inuvik/Inuuvık."
In a news release Tuesday, the association said it has a goal of advancing "decolonization through its work, workplaces and relationships," adding it has started to review its programs and services.
"The aim of the review is to seek advice from decolonization and reconciliation experts and community members, on how to adapt our programs to follow the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's 94 Call to Action, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirited Calls for Justice, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People," the news release stated.
It said the name change is a preliminary step in that process.
The 2022 winter walking challenge has already begun, and the association said communication staff are working to adapt their communications to be in line with the decision but that it will take time to implement.