Monday, October 7,1996
Having babies not always healthy
"There is certainly a higher birth rate up here," says Arviat nurse Maureen Klenk.

Indeed it is. And not just in Arviat, where something of a baby boom is under way. The latest figures from the federal and territorial governments show Northern women are having twice as many babies as the average Canadian woman.

If that ratio doesn't worry you, then perhaps others will.

The birth rate in the NWT, in fact, is two-and-a-half times that of teenagers in the mostly rural state of Oregon. It's three times as high as the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan, where women have almost no access to birth control.

"Why, I'm not exactly sure," says nurse Klenke.

Fortunately, others are. Time after time, studies have shown a direct link between the level of power and education enjoyed by women and birth rates.

The more women know and more power they wield in their community, the fewer children they have.

There was a time when large families were a blessing. Who can deny the joy that a new child brings to a family?

But the inescapable fact is what the North can afford is finite. We can't afford to feed, clothe, house and educate an unlimited number of people. Somehow our natural desire for more children will have be tempered with compassion for those we have already brought into the world.

Birth control and family planning, neither of which cost much, are obviously vital to any solution to this dilemma.

But just as important are expensive educational programs targeted at keeping women in school and convincing both men and women that one or two children are enough.

No one said it would be easy. But the alternatives will be far more costly, to both the Northern economy and the Northern way of life. (Monday, October 7, 1996)

Victims should decide fate

James Jaypoody's community of Clyde River wants him to come home and more than 100 people have signed a petition saying so.

Problem is, Jaypoody is into the first year of a four-and-a-half-year sentence for sexual assault.

The people who signed the petition feel Japoody's age -- he's in his sixties -- and his health -- he's had a couple of heart attacks -- should be taken in account. They don't want him to die in prison.

The main consideration in granting special circumstances for a convicted sex offender must be for the victim or victims.

Have they been consulted in a manner free from pressure to decide one way or the other?

Since Jaypoody took it upon himself to decide the fate of others, it is those individuals who should decide his fate.

And the community should stand by the wishes of the people victimized. To go against their wishes, or ignore the consequences of Jaypoody's crime would be a second injustice. ( Monday, October 7, 1996)