Cambridge Bay post office to reopen after “incident” prompts closure
Second time in two months post office has closed because of customer-related incidents
Cambridge Bay’s post office was expected to reopen Friday evening after an incident involving a customer prompted staff to close the office early Thursday—the second time in less that two months residents have found the doors shut during business hours.
“From what I’ve heard, they didn’t feel safe,” said Dale LeClair, Canada Post’s director of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
The employee who was working at the time closed the office because they did not want to deal with a “difficult” customer, LeClair added.
Neither he nor Cambridge Bay Mayor Pamela Gross could confirm the details of what happened.
Multiple posts about the incident were made in local Facebook groups on Friday but were later removed or made private.
The hamlet of Cambridge Bay and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national organization representing Canada’s Inuit, were in talks with Canada Post “the entire day” Friday to discuss solutions, said LeClair.
“One of the things I heard was that Cambridge Bay is known as one of the most friendly communities in the country,” said LeClair.
“They’ve had a couple of incidents that have brought negativity to the forefront and this really concerns them.”
Many community members had commented about the incident on the now-private Facebook post, calling on Canada Post to get a security guard in the Cambridge Bay location.
LeClair said many options were discussed and hiring security guards did come up in talks with the hamlet and ITK, but they are concerned it would be off-putting for the community, so it will not be Canada Post’s first step.
“We’ve got to find the right balance,” he said. “But, if it’s necessary and it gives the customer and the staff members some level of comfort, then certainly we’ll consider it.”
LeClair said a more-likely solution would be to add a physical barrier at the counter to separate staff and customers.
“We will do our best to work with the community and certainly make the facility safer for the employees and the customers,” said LeClair.
In mid-December— during the busy pre-holiday period—postmaster Bo Wallenius and another employee Jim Patterson quit, blaming rude customers, causing the office to close. Wallenius said some customers made racist comments or accused the two employees of stealing parcels.
Two temporary staff members have been running the post office since then and Canada Post is still working to recruit two full-time and two part-time employees, LeClair said.
Canada Post asked the community to “keep the post office friendly,” in a news release on Dec. 17, where they announced the office would reopen that week, operated by new staff.
Xan Moffatt-Toews, the president of the Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Branch of the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, said postal workers across Canada have been facing aggravation from customers, especially with more parcels being delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a hard thing to manage to be quite honest because there’s so much aggravation everywhere in Canada, not just in Cambridge Bay,” she said.
The post office will be open for parcel pickup and box access on Jan. 22 in the evening and on Jan. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 2:30 to 5 p.m., according to Canada Post.