Editorial page

Friday, January 8, 1999

Seniors breaking trail

It is a fact of life that experience is worth its weight in gold even though people with the most grey matter are often overlooked by those with less.

But new forces are emerging and with 1999 being declared the International Year of Older Persons, people possessing a wealth of experience may well decide activism is the key to ensuring benefits from a society they helped build.

The number of people over 65 in the NWT is 2,160, larger than many communities. In Canada, seniors number 3.6 million, a figure that estimated to rise to almost 5.9 million by 2,016.

If united, seniors could be a very influential political and economic force in the future and will be making life better for those of us coming behind. For that reason alone, their efforts should have everyone's support.

Grin and bear it

As we now near the end of week three of the deep freeze we're in, Yellowknifers should remember one thing -- it can and probably will only get better.

As for those of you who procrastinated and didn't take the proper precautions in winterizing both your homes and or vehicles -- let's hope you learned something -- at least you're helping keep the plumbers in business which is good for the local economy.

At least one thing's for sure, when and if we ever do return to the mid -20s, we'll all be hard-pressed not to appreciate the warmer temperatures.

In the meantime, clean your chimney, maintain your water pipes and don't forget to plug in. We could be in for a long one.

The ice is right

Perhaps the planets have been re-aligned, maybe the Earth is back on its axis. Whatever the reason, the world seems to be returning to its old self.

Record-setting warm weather has given way to cold, crisp air and clear winter skies. And more significantly, Canada and the Russians are back to battling for supremacy on the ice.

After a spirit-crushing international season last year, Canada's junior team reached the final of the world championship with a gutsy, determined effort.

Playing the Russians for the gold medal, the home team made it close in an exciting fight to the finish. Three periods weren't enough to contain the game, the teams played sudden-death overtime.

The sight of hockey's two greatest rivals going at it for yet another championship is heart-warming. Now it's up to the Leafs to make it all perfect.

Lunch breaks

The Christmas season, now mercifully over, tends to bring into focus the charitable work that people do, people such as the many who contribute to the Yellowknife Women's Centre free lunch program.

The success of the program only underscores the need it fills in our community.

The truth is that in this era of unprecedented prosperity, there are still far too many people going without adequate housing and food.

Yellowknifers can take some pride in their community for rising to the occasion and keeping the project going. We can only hope that, until the need subsides, free lunches will be available to those who would otherwise do without.

In the meantime, Arlene Hache and her staff and volunteers work to keep the spirit of Christmas alive 12 months of the year.

Community spirit thrives up North
Editorial Comment
Glen Korstrum
Inuvik Drum

Happy New Year everyone.

With the holiday season finished for another year, it is now time to get back to the routine of regular work weeks.

Some people have told me of their quiet, peaceful and special family Christmases at cabins out on the land while others filled planes on southern excursions to visit family and friends.

My Christmas was the latter.

Last year was my first full year in the North and it was the longest stretch of time I've been away from home in Vancouver.

This Christmas was a chance to go back, see many friends and family and get a perspective both on the city where I grew up and on the North where I live now.

What I like about the North is its sense of community -- something more difficult to find in even the most close-knit Vancouver neighbourhood.

Parents and older relatives discussed retirement with angst in their voices. Even relatives in their 30s discussed intracies of mutual funds and investments for when retirement comes. No doubt this could be a wise consideration but one few seem preoccupied with up here.

The North is a desirable place to live because of its strong sense of community -- even in a city as big as Yellowknife.

Everyone is expected to pull their own weight but play as a team. That means always regarding others' welfare.

One aunt is now living in a rest home but soon started talking about its cost. My impression could be wrong here but I get the feeling elders are respected more here. Rides are given more freely as are meals and general community efforts to keep those aging active and included.

Another aspect of Northern community spirit showed itself when Gilbert Berry and Stanley Pidborochynski knocked on their neighbour, Bob Simpson's door to alert him to smoke and what looked like flames on his roof.

Now I'm sure in many southern neighbourhoods the same ethic would prevail (if for no other reason because flames spread easily from house to house).

What makes the North different is the extent of neighbourliness. Since Simpson can no longer live where he had called home, he received an offer to stay at a neighbour's basement suite.

Concern for each other aside, Simpson's fire is a frightful example of what can happen unexpectedly to any one of us and how equally vulnerable we all are to tragedy.

Simpson has devoted a lot of time to Inuvik for the past several years, involving himself with the Beaufort Delta Education Council as chair and topping the polls in last October's District Education Authority election.

His work as the Beaufort Delta self-government chief negotiator is another way Simpson is using his time to make his mark and leave a positive impact on the region.

It's sad for a house fire to happen to anyone but in this case, it's numbing to have something so bad happen to someone who has worked so hard for the good of this community.

Sometimes that's the way life goes.

New Year's wishes
Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

It's the time of the year when we struggle to keep our new year's resolutions, for those of us who bother to make them.

Rather than a resolution, I have a few wishes for 1999. First of all, to the Deh Cho First Nations, the beginning of an expedient and fruitful self-government negotiations process with the federal government. OK, maybe expedient is pushing it, but here's to hoping that there aren't too many major hurdles to overcome.

To social committees, such as the one in Fort Liard: more funding for cultural youth camps like the one at Fisherman Lake. It's more proof that adolescents can learn and thoroughly enjoy themselves at the same time.

Speaking of learning, to the students and teacher John Doherty in Kakisa: all the best in your new school, it's been a long time coming.

To all the municipal councils in the region: surpluses and movement towards the elimination of existing deficits.

To all the communities along the Mackenzie River: a worry-free break up.

To Loyal Letcher and all his associates: continued success at North Nahanni Naturalist Lodge. May the tourists continue to be awe-struck by the beauty of the region.

To every community in the Deh Cho and worldwide: fewer crimes and tragedies. Crime in the Deh Cho isn't rampant by any means, but incidents like those described on page three of this issue are most unfortunate and needless. Fires, on the other hand, are occasionally beyond our control. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

A final wish would be for weather that makes everyone happy. Sound impossible? Well, you're right, it is. But the thought is there. It seems that we all forget just how susceptible we are to the forces of nature, we can't always defy it. In this era of technological wizardry, we sometimes think that nothing can impede our travels any more, but that's not quite true.

Here in the great white North, we can still be humbled by the power of a blizzard but at least, for the most part, we're prepared for it. On the other hand, when we see the urban-dwellers in the south on television after a major snowfall, they are often at a complete loss.

The travellers, well, they can become downright resentful. I've seen a number of interviews from airports where angry people are accusing the airlines of cancelling flights. It's for our own safety.

That's an important thing to remember. Nobody wants to lose a day cooped up in a impersonal airport, but better that than making the news by being one of more than 200 people killed in a tragic crash because an irresponsible airline felt so much pressure from customers to meet scheduled departures.

Oh yeah, and let's also hope that we all enjoy this final year of the 20th century, before the "impending doom" of the Y2K computer glitch throws our lives into utter chaos. There's always something to fret over, isn't there?