Monday, April 7, 1997
Bridging the gap with technology

The electronic version of News/North has attracted considerable attention since its debut on the World Wide Web a few months ago, and not just from Northerners.

Judging from our e-mail, it looks like Internet readers from as far away as New Zealand are availing themselves of some long-distance education thanks to our web site. Of course, we remain committed to serving Northern readers and we're happy to see so many of them taking to the information highway with such enthusiasm.

But the fact that Northerners like the idea of electronic information delivery comes as no surprise. Indeed, if there's anywhere on Earth where the Internet makes sense, this is it. Prohibitive transportation costs make telecommunications the only logical alternative for many NWT residents, particularly those in remote communities that are only now enjoying Internet access.

The lesson to be learned from this fledging love affair with the new media is that we should spare no expense in making sure everyone in North has equal access to the Net.

Schools, for example, should move as quickly as possible toward home education through the Net. Recent studies have shown that urban students can often learn more through their computer than they can in a conventional classroom, and that should certainly be welcome news to parents who don't want to send their children to high schools, colleges and universities that are far from home, both geographically and culturally.

The territorial government, meanwhile, should continue to move toward electronic delivery of its services as quickly as possible. Videoconferencing may not be an appropriate alternative for every meeting, but the evidence so far is, when used properly, the technology has the potential to save millions.

Spring is a time for caring

Spring is finally in the air. With the weather warming up and the days getting longer, more and more people are breaking out of their winter shells and getting outside.

Look at those people across Nunavut walking, snowmobiling and skiing across the tundra for suicide awareness.

Rankin Inlet, like many others in the region has had to come to grips with many deaths during the winter.

After all that has happened it's good to see some people have the strength to get out there and show how much they care.

It seems now everyone in Nunavut is concerned about our young people and their future.

Look at those three men from Nunavik snowmobiling around Nunavut sharing their stories and making people understand suicide is no way out.

What about Charlie Issaluk who left Chesterfield Inlet for Rankin Inlet this past Monday for Rankin Inlet?

He's also concerned about suicide and young people.

There's another man, Thomas Suvissak, who's leaving Pelly Bay for Repulse Bay sometime this month. He too wants to create awareness about suicide.

I hope their noble gestures sink deep into the hearts of those who ever felt like giving up on life.

Every resident of Nunavut should realize that the kindness and concern these men are expressing is for the betterment of this soon-to-be territory.

The long and painstaking journeys these men are taking are symbolic of the roads we as individual take in life.

Life is like a walk across a wind-swept tundra. It's not easy, but with strength and determination anything can be accomplished.

I encourage everyone to watch those men as they travel and see if they make it.

They will likely encounter many hardships along the way, but if they put their heart and soul into it, they'll make it safely to their destinations.

As they say -- where there's a will, there's a way.

Kudos to Res

It took a couple of weeks but a sense of public responsibility finally hauled itself out of bed and convinced the people of a couple of NWT communities to take an interest their political future.

The 75 people in Fort Resolution and Lutselk'e who turned out last month for public hearings on the Western Arctic constitution deserve full credit for not shirking their civic duties.

While low turnout in other communities can be blamed in part on a lack of notice from the organizers -- we're not letting the Constitutional Working Group off the hook -- it's good to see that at least someone is paying attention. Let's hope they start a trend.

Heed the warnings

The alarm bells being rung by Yellowknives Dene and wildlife biologists over various threats to the caribou may seem overblown.

After all, caribou populations in the NWT exceed 500,000. Mining areas are few and tiny compared to the hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of wilderness and global warming is a global problem Northerners can't do much about.

But the caribou population in the NWT is a renewable resource and natural wonder unmatched in the world. If we want the herds to remain as strong, we must heed these alarms and bring them into the equation of everything we do.