Editorial page
Friday, September 18, 1998

Our youth, our future

It goes without saying that youth in Yellowknife are facing many hurdles as we all head towards the millennium.

Whether you look at the abysmal graduation rate across the NWT (27 per cent) or the growing concern over the rising incidence of pointless vandalism, drug use and teen violence, it's clear solutions aren't going to be found overnight.

The city's public safety committee composed of police, businesses, and school officials, recently agreed their number one priority must be the youth of the city. With 13 complaints hitting the RCMP in the last week relating to city youth alone, the need is well demonstrated.

The Anglican Church's Side Door, a local drop in centre for youth, is a good example of what works.

Starting small in 1996, offering a drug free haven for youth between nine to 24, the drop in centre is now a popular stomping ground for kids seven nights a week.

Offering everything from pool to discussion nights,

the centre has doubled its intake in two years with Saturday night attracting as many as 100 kids.

Some may remember Youth on the Move, a youth-run organization that did wonders during its tenure. However, the group was left in shambles when its founder, a youth herself, moved away to attend university.

One of the key elements to the success of the Side Door seems to be a solid base provided by the church that allowed time for growth.

The city could well provide similar stability and much needed continuity over a period of years.

With 32 per cent of the city's population under the age of 19 years, the challenge of keeping kids off the streets will be with us for some time.

Road warrior

Look out Yellowknife, there's some clear thinking going on at city hall.

Bob Brooks has put forward a plan that would benefit Yellowknife residents, encourage tourism and open the way to developing a year-round road to the mines farther North.

His proposal to speed up the improvements to the road to Rae is sound and sensible.

A better road can only build the tourist trade, which Yellowknife needs to do. Improving the connection with Rae will make the road safer and boost Yellowknife's chances to be the terminal for the all-weather road North.

Mr. Brooks has asked that voters let city hall know how they feel. Count us in.

Lost and found

Each year, hunters, hikers, fishermen and other outdoor types who travel into the Northern wilderness get far more adventure than they bargained for when they get lost.

The immense wilderness here makes getting lost easy, and makes rescuing very difficult and very costly. This was clearly demonstrated on Labour Day weekend, when a search was mounted for an Edmonton resident with 25 years hunting experience who got lost while chasing caribou on the barrens.

Camps and lodges who deal with southerners bear some responsibility for making their guests understand that wilderness experience in the south counts for little in the North, where you can walk in a straight line for two months and never cross a road.

Don't take peace for granted
Editorial comment
Glen Korstrom
Inuvik Drum

Despite hail and near- freezing weather, dozens of people took part at the noon- hour Inuvik Peace Day ceremony Sept. 14.

Organizer Mary Beckett touched on the noble yet naive notion with which many supported involvement in the two World Wars.

That was the notion that each war would be the last war. Unfortunately, one constant in the history of humanity has been war and violence whether by governments, individuals or religious sects.

Thankfully, living in Inuvik means less violence than in many places around the globe. Things would be different living in Israel or northern Ireland not to mention many parts of the United States.

The peace ceremony turn out could have been larger.

Maybe cold hail kept people away. Maybe it was that people can take things for granted. That's why there are often low voter turnouts in places where democracy is strongly entrenched.

With Russia still testing nuclear missiles in Arctic waters and undergoing internal political instability, who knows how long peace can survive here.

If there is one thing this world needs more of, it's love.

And more people who can love like it's never going to hurt.

Discretion and tact needed

Regardless of the job, sometimes tact and discretion are in order.

I thought about this while sitting through the liquor board hearing on potentially suspending the Blue Moon Bistro's liquor licence Sept. 15.

Debate focused on whether Bistro manager Talal Khatib removed liquor from the tables by 2:15 a.m. or 2:25 a.m.

Khatib said staff removed bottles as usual at 2:15, but some customers thought it would be funny to hide their drinks underneath the tables so they could keep them.

Though the hearing verdict was unavailable by press time, the decision is set to have been rendered by the time you read this.

Khatib has operated the business for years and knows how to keep the peace while following the intent of the law.

I have to say I am personally uncomfortable with laws limiting the freedom of business owners to make money and of individuals to buy a legal product just because of the time on the clock.

Khatib was not operating an after-hours booze can at 4 a.m. He is a restaurateur who tried his best to keep the peace while whittling down the number of customers with alcohol left.

For that he should be commended.

Clamping down after a few minutes may make for a lot more work for police.

The week that was
Editorial comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

Fort Simpson was abuzz with activity last week.

A couple of meetings convened on Tuesday evening alone.

The youth group met and decided to research what activities are currently available to youth. They will meet again next week and chart their course from that point.

A few blocks over, representatives from Municipal and Community Affairs broke the news to village council that funding for an upgrade to the sewage treatment plant is not available. Not surprisingly, MACA has had its budget slashed like everyone else, according to Don MacDonald, the senior advisor for community monitoring. At the same time, it was made clear that Fort Simpson's deficit is a growing concern. Last year, despite block funding that was supposed to help eliminate the deficit, the village wound up $869,000 in the red. One of MACA's suggestions to help generate revenue was to make local taxpayers cough up some money for the sewage and road work along 100 Street. Doesn't sound good. MACA left that decision in council's hands.

Another meeting, this time in the guise of a "public hearing," took place Thursday evening when the Electoral Boundaries Commission landed in the village. Several people showed up to express their concerns about Yellowknife potentially getting too many MLAs and too much say. The consensus among those present was that the Denedeh district ought to be split along the Mackenzie River, with Fort Simpson, Wrigley and Jean Marie River remaining together while Fort Liard, Trout Lake and Nahanni Butte would form a riding of their own.

Friday evening was the feeding the fire ceremony for the Y2Y Conference. The delegates gathered over the weekend to discuss conservation efforts from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon.

From what I heard, the majority think that people in the North have a promising opportunity to continue protecting natural habitats. Liidlii Kue Chief Rita Cli pointed out that the First Nations people have always cared for the land. She made it clear that the government should sit up, take notice and respect their rights and wishes. The event closed with a well-attended community feast and drum dance.

Saturday marked the return of the Fall Fair. Considering it had been on a 20-year hiatus, it would have to have been deemed a success. An incredible array of produce, baked goods, preserves, crafts and artwork bedecked the tables. Congratulations to all who took part. Next year, the event could be twice as big if only half of the visitors get involved.

Sunday saw the annual two-day First Air Golf Tournament wrap up. The golden leaves on the trees indicate that golfing season is hanging on by its fingertips, but there are a couple of events left on the links before Fort Simpson's golfers pack the bags away for the winter.

Something that has to be mentioned is the fact that I, like so many others, pop in and out of these events. When I get there, they are in progress and everything is running smoothly. Well, it certainly doesn't happen by itself. There are some very dedicated individuals who ensure success by spending countless hours setting up, checking details and cleaning up after it's all over. Without them, there would be no conferences, fairs, feasts, drum dances or tournaments. My hat is off to you.

See you next week.