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 will reopen in the evening on Jan. 22, after an incident involving a “difficult” customer prompted the staff member who was working to close early. (Submitted photo)

By Mélanie Ritchot

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.

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Why u dum on

    I can understand both sides. The postal workers are working hard. But when you ask someone to continue to be patient, as they ca be, because their Christmas gifts still haven’t come. Come on it is almost a month since Dec 25, my kids want their gifts.

    • Posted by No way on

      There are no two sides to this, there are rude, ignorant and entitled people and that’s it. There is no reason for the front line postal staff to take ANY abuse. If anyone has any issues with the service, call the 1-800 number Canada Post advertises everywhere and let them know. The people working in the local offices only sort mail and work the cash register, they do not control the flow of mail. The solution to deal with the difficult people is simple, once they become an issue, ask them to leave the building, if they don’t call the RCMP and let them handle it.

      • Posted by Why u dum on

        Really . Do you understand what it is like to be disappointed everyday since dec 9. 2020. Walk to post office everyday since then and no parcels. They left the south, it says when I track them online, dec 5. 2020. My kids want there Christmas presents. Christmas was a month ago, I still have no gifts. You ask why it is taking so long, they say they are busy sorting, but there is to much. So I understand why some people may get upset.

        • Posted by Do you actually understand? on

          While I understand the frustration and being upset with parcels not arriving, it is okay to express being upset but never okay to become abusive…especially to those who have no control over it. You also have the option to contact the seller and request a refund as the parcels have yet to arrive. If you get lucky, you’ll end up with a refund AND the parcels will end up arriving.

          • Posted by Why u dum on

            What you are suggesting is fraud. How about they just go into the back room, sort the mail, don’t stop until you are done.
            Then my kids will have their presents. Do the job!

            • Posted by Not that easy on

              It’s unfortunately not that easy. Your assumption that the fault ls on the frontline workers is exactly the kind of mentality that leads to people getting frustrated and taking it out on them. It is highly misinformed and oversimplifying the issue. No matter how much sorting they do in the back, it doesn’t mean that your parcel or kids gifts are even in the building or community.

              Instead of getting upset with people who have nothing to do with your frustrations, use this opportunity to teach your kids that Christmas isn’t about material gifts. Spend time with them, hug them, make them feel loved, that’s what Christmas is all about: Family. Kids learn a lot from watching how their parents react to situations. If you show patience and humanity when things don’t go your way, they will learn this too.

            • Posted by Be the solution not the problem on

              If Xmas presents are the only thing on your mind, maybe buy some gifts at the co-op or northern. You sound super entitled, think about all the families who can’t even afford xmas gifts for their kids.
              You clearly don’t understand the issue. If you know so much about Canada Post feel free to apply for one of the vacancies, otherwise be quiet and take a number like the rest of us.

            • Posted by Why you dumb on

              Where on earth are you getting the suggestion of fraud. If you did not get your package which you so desperately need to give your children, you ask for a refund. Now, if you got your package, but claimed you didn’t, that’s a different story. On the other hand, what YOU are suggesting, is that it is okay to become abusive because you are tired of being told to be patient. Perhaps you can teach your children the importance of family, the importance of being kind, the importance of being human…instead of being materialistic. If you want to keep blaming others, go do the job yourself and see what happens!

    • Posted by Confused kitten on

      Strange post as the article doesn’t even discuss “both sides” at all. What other side are you talking about?

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      In case you haven’t heard there is this thing called Covid-19 that is currently wreaking havoc down south and if you think mail sorting facilities are immune think again. And exactly how is it the fault of the Cam Bay post office that your parcels are delayed?

    • Posted by jon on

      Its not the peoples fault who work at your local post office. If parcels are late or not here its once again not due to the local workers. Put your complaints in to the cooperation

    • Posted by thatinukguy on

      so I’m guessing you’re the reason for the closure?

  2. Posted by anonymous on

    It has become inconvenient to go to the Post Office on a regular basis -by the time I walk there, it’s closed. Come on Canada Post, maybe deal with the individuals that are harassing or bullying the postal workers. The situation with customers harassing/bullying needs to stop -get the authorities involved, my 2 cents.

  3. Posted by Richard on

    The problem has a simple solution, security guards or surveillance cameras. Since Canada post is to cheep to hire security guards than all is needed is surveillance cameras so offenders can be held accountable.

    • Posted by Stop making us all suffer, deal with the troublemakers on

      This is a small town. The postal workers know who the offenders are. What I don’t get is why the offenders aren’t being dealt with. Why close it down for the whole town just because of a few bad apples?
      If I had a nickel for every cranky person I have dealt with in my lifetime…..

  4. Posted by Truestory on

    People who order on line or any other way, should ask for a tracking number(s) after they purchase. All parcels have tracking numbers. Either by phone or the ‘net.

    • Posted by Alan Klie on

      Sometimes when you order off Amazon or other online retailers there’s no tracking option. This is particularly true, at least for Amazon, if it’s a 3rd party seller. Sometimes their products are shipped without tracking numbers because that’s just how they ship them. I’m not sure if you can get in touch with an seller and ask them to get a tracking number and/or if they’ll do that even if you ask.

  5. Posted by Local management on

    Why don’t local people get to work there? There seems to be an easily blame the southerners, who had worked there. I recommend locals run the post office. That way you’ll be able to relate directly to the problem. There’s too much these days of blaming the south or the southerners. Oh, some will say mail comes from the south, we depend on it all for everything, Christmas will not happen you say , if mail don’t come from that good old south. Yes, locals get involved by running and managing the post office. No more blame .

    • Posted by Local people? on

      Reality check -“Local People” don’t want these jobs. They are very low-paying and require high school diplomas. Most “local people” with high school diplomas jump straight to GN jobs where they can relax all day and socialize while making 50 an hour.

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