A speech wrote using the “Rule of Three” and delivered at a Toastmasters meeting Vancouver Canada.
ATM Manual Speech, Story Telling (5-7 min)
Historical Speech: A simple opening, body & conclusion.
“Yellowknife: A Northwest Territories Town Changed for Ever”
Ka’boom’, an explosion rips through a mine shaft killing 9 men!
The place, Royal Oak gold mine, in Yellowknife N.W.T. – The date September 18th, 1992. – Accident? no, murder! A town marred forever being labelled as the site of Canada’s largest mass murder and most viscous strike actions in our land.
A year before the explosion, in November, 1991 a tough new owner purchased the Gold Mine. Peggy Witte. She?, yes she! and she is tough. Her hard-line bargaining tactics and her insistence for across-the-board cutbacks, ensued a historical strike/lock out the would last 18 months and put fear in the hearts of anyone involved.
I know I was the lead dog handler of the 3rd security company the was sent in to protect the site. The original company only lasted a few weeks after being beaten, shaken and scared right out of the country. You would think that after the explosion, the death of 9, probably friends most certainly neighbors, that the strikers would have backed off, they had proven their seriousness, their anger. But that didn’t slow them down, it wasn’t but weeks later when they rioted and busted the gates down charging the building smashing windows and assaulting security guards. After broken bones and lacerations the original security company couldn’t take it any more and the mine was forced to hiring one of the largest and best trained security companies in the country.
Pinkerton came in with 10 times the men of the previous company, fully trained with hand cuffs, billy clubs and state of the art communications. It took this company and all their resources to keep things under control. After a month or 2 things seemed to settle down a bit and that’s when the mine decide to reduce the amount of guards and bring dogs in to keep control. That’s when Base Fort Security took over hiring me to run the K-9 department. Mr. Minion “The owner of the company” flew me up to Yellowknife with 2 dogs. 1 we purchased here for 5k and the other was 120lb male with an attitude problem. I say an attitude problem because the dog was given to me to train because it almost ripped the arm off the previous owner.
I arrived in Yellowknife in late winter experiencing temperatures up to 50 below and darkness that covered most of the day. We didn’t like the dark because that was when the strikers were in action. I heard stories of the few hrs of night they had in the previous summer. They called it the witching hour when all hell would break loose. I remember hearing stories of strikers hiding in ditches waiting for a guard to drive by and then assault him with rocks. It happened to one of our guards in a remote area of the site when out of know where a huge boulder came flying through the drivers side window smashing him in the side of the head sending him to the hospital A.S.A.P.
It was a fairly large site to patrol for the mine itself went 2000 ft. straight down with over 750 miles of tunnels stemming off the main shaft. It would take about ½ hr to drive the perimeter in a pick up truck. We had to patrol the site 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, making our routine checks like clock work. We would drive the roads through out the site usually with our dog sitting right beside us. The dogs were sharp, they new the were working and sat up right beside you searching the property for anyone sneaking around. Each time we would pass one of the gates we would be verbally abused and tempted to cross the line by the strikers that were drinking and on drugs camped out all night long. I remember hearing news that gun sales were extremely high in town which made us twice as nervous.
I can remember a radio call from the scab workers pleading with us do something after the beam of a laser scope was circling around the cab of the truck as the drove out of the mine shaft. It was one of the scariest jobs I ever had and couldn’t wait for it to be over.
I never did fully understand the reason for all the anger, but even with all that was going I realized they were just people, sure maybe a little rough, miners in a northern town but half of them had families and it really was a close community. I remember being radioed to one of the gates, they wanted dogs there because things were getting out of hand. I met up with another truck and dogs and we just stood by about 100 ft from the gate in the picture. After both groups yelling back and forth and tempting each other to cross the line so we could fight it out I finally walk right up to them and said “Hey guys” we don’t have anything against you, give us a break, its the mine your angry with we are just a neutral company, we don’t take sides. That kind of broke the ice and we ended up shaking hands and chatting for a bit. They would offer us a beer “No thanks”. We would finish conversation and they look at each other and say “back to work” and start the swearing and cussing again.
Things remained pretty calm for the 3 weeks I was there and that was the end of my contract, I sold my dog to the company and headed home. The strike ended a few months later and one of the miners was convicted for the death of the nine men. It was a strike that had gone bad, men lost their lives and that little town of Yellowknife that will never be the same.