Editorial page

Wednesday, September 30, 1998

No time to be timid

Yellowknife was getting shafted even before Supreme Court Justice Joseph H. Potts pointed out the imbalance of the electoral boundaries in the NWT.

As a member of the 1983 Electoral Boundaries Commission, Potts disagreed with his fellow commissioners who felt Yellowknife didn't deserve a fourth MLA.

Potts wrote: 'The member of the legislative assembly is the voice of his or her constituents and when he or she votes in the assembly he or she is exercising political power on their behalf. This is what democracy and representation by population is all about.'

Back then, the arguments against Yellowknife and its 10,000 residents getting proper representation were that the city had so much wealth, and was so close to its MLAs and ministers, it didn't need more representation.

The fact Yellowknifers paid for their own municipal amenities through property taxes was not acknowledged. As well, being close to MLAs means nothing when it comes to a vote among all MLAs.

The inequity Potts saw is now worse that our population has almost doubled and our MLAs have only increased by one. The riding of Frame Lake South has over 7,000 residents, seven times larger than Premier Morin's riding of Tu Nedhe (840).

Mayor Dave Lovell's presentation on behalf of council to the Western Territory Electoral Districts listed the reasons for not giving Yellowknife greater representation before listing the reasons for doing so, as if the two lists might have equal merit.

Two councillors, Kevin O'Reilly and Ben McDonald, actually believe Yellowknifers should just keep quiet for fear of offending the communities. That wasn't in their election platform.

Fortunately, Councillor Robert Slaven has been taking direct action on his own to get more seats for Yellowknife.

He has stated publicly if Yellowknife continues to be denied appropriate democratic representation, he will take the issue to court.

We hope the rest of council has enough sense to back that fight all the way. Yellowknifers expect it.

Students and jobs

The only question surrounding the Electronic Engineering Technology Program is why did it take so long?

The program matches employment opportunities in the electronics field with training courses for Northern students so that employers don't have to import skilled people to fill the jobs.

The co-operation between the electronics industry and Aurora College in putting together this program could very well serve as a model for the way partnerships can find solutions to Northern problems.

Solid, focused education is one of the keys to economic self-sufficiency for people in the North. Matching students with jobs is a great way to demonstrate that education can pay off.

Our local hero

Yellowknifer Don Hunter is living proof as to why, year after year, it is so important for all of us to support the dream of Terry Fox.

Of the 281 people who participated in this year's Terry Fox Run, 69-year-old Hunter knows how horrific cancer can be. Luckily through chemotherapy, a new diet and his strong spirituality, the long-time Yellowknifer has successfully battled bowel, kidney and lung cancer.

Hunter, who was this year's guest of honour at the 18th annual Terry Fox Run is a true testament that there's no time like now to invest in Fox's dream of raising funds to stamp out this disease that continues to ravage our lives.

One heck of a year
Editorial Comment
Jennifer Pritchett
Kivalliq News

It's hard to beat watching the green, pink and purple of the northern lights dance across the sky looking through the opening of a three-room igloo. It's images like this one in Baker Lake last winter that make the Keewatin a special place. And there are many others.

In a city, one can't take a bombardier ride across the tundra or hop on a Honda and within minutes get to a great fishing spot where you fish until the wee hours of the morning. Riding on a dog team on the sea ice in the spring with the turquoise colour of the salt water rising through the snow also makes for a powerful experience only to be had in the North. Holding a feisty peregrine falcon and seeing Beluga whales moments after a Coral Harbour hunter shot three to feed his family for the winter are all images I won't soon forget.

And that's nothing to say about the amazing people I've met throughout the last 12 months. Travelling with Governor General Romeo LeBlanc to Baker Lake for the opening of their Inuit Heritage Centre was truly an honour. Listening to Bernadette Dean play a tape of her great-grandmother singing at the turn of the century and watching elders throat singing and drum dancing were also amazing experiences.

It's only appropriate to thank several people in all seven Keewatin communities who helped make xxxKivalliq News a regional paper. These people include Coral Harbour Mayor Johnny Ningeongan whose hospitality during my visit to the community in August is most appreciated, Whale Cove teacher Caroline Thompson who sees the true value in recognizing students for their accomplishments, Whale Cove senior administrative officer Terry Rogers, Steven Samok of Repulse Bay who always had a story, Chesterfield Inlet SAO Paul Sammurtok, Baker Lake Mayor David Tagoona and Jason Prince of Arviat who takes great photos. And there are countless others who contributed to the paper and brought it closer to the people.

I'd like to think I've learned a great deal from the people of the region and taken some important lessons from my experience here. It's been a privilege living in the Keewatin -- a year I'll never forget. As Nunavut edges closer and closer, I will anxiously watch the developments and look forward to seeing the celebration April 1, 1999. Mutna.