Editorial page

Wednesday, February 3, 1999

Living with cocaine

The growing availability and use of the deadly drug cocaine in Yellowknife is calling out for a great deal of concern.

RCMP Cpl. Dan Nolan, who is part of the three-person drug section in Yellowknife, recently admitted to Yellowknifer that there's "no shortage" of the drug in town, and the number of street dealers and users in the city are becoming so abundant that police have a lot on their hands when it comes to getting this illegal drug off the street.

While police were successful with last month's seizure of a pound of cocaine and a suitcase containing $90,000 in cash, which they believed to be drug-related, no arrests have yet been made, despite their ongoing investigation.

While we understand that the airtight, by-the-book procedures to get at these criminals isn't easy, what's particularly concerning is the growing number of young adults who are, as Nolan says, getting "over their heads" with the highly-addictive drug.

The message that doctors continually send out is that the severe damage regular cocaine use inflicts on one's physical and mental state doesn't seem to be sinking in.

One only has to remember the rash of sudden deaths last month, when three victims, all young men, were found to have traces of cocaine in their systems, to see that for a town of 17,000 these deaths are not a good sign.

One can only hope that people pay attention and learn from the candid comments of Mary Louise Liske, a former Yellowknifer who had to leave town to get away from the dangerous drug.

Liske, who's 29 and has two children, had become a regular cocaine user for three years, later finding she needed to smoke the highly-addictive crack frequently just to get through her day. Liske, who hung out with a crowd of about 50 users in Yellowknife, said it was when her former common-law husband overdosed last year that she found the courage to quit before she, too, became a statistic.

The Right choice

As a Yellowknifer editorial critical of the public school board hit the streets Friday, teachers were opening their pay envelopes to discover a written apology.

Superintendent Ken Woodley was sorry for how deductions on teachers' paycheques were handled.

While the apology comes late, the fact is a choice was made: Stick to the contract's fine print and ignore the outcry or admit the repayment of benefits could have been done better.

The right choice was made and marks a departure from recent board dealings which have been hamstrung by court action and the stifling influence of legal advice.

Public school playground rules emphasize respect for others. Conflicts are to be resolved by discussion, compromise and fairness -- three principles lost in the emotion generated by issues before the board this past year.

It's time for the school board, parents and staff to practice what we all preach.

Sparkling hopes

What once seemed like a bush-whacked prospector's dream is now a commercial reality. The first diamonds extracted from Ekati mine have been sold.

The initial sale is reported to be about $12.9 million.

What remains to be seen is how much of the diamond business stays in the North. BHP, the principal owners of the Ekati project, say that they will be selling diamonds through a variety of channels.

Northerners concerned about job creation and keeping diamond profits in the North will want to see some of Ekati's output going to secondary industries based in the North.

The diamond industry rode into town on high hopes for Northerners. Those benefits are yet to be realized.

Dedication sends special message
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

In the words of Denis Bedard, president of the NWT Hockey Association, "The request was important, appropriate and easy to accommodate."

The request Bedard was speaking of was that of Amauyaq Lindell, son of recently deceased Jon Lindell of Arviat, to have the NWT's under-17 hockey team at the Canada Winter Games this month in Corner Brook, Nfld., wear black shoulder patches to mark his father's passing and to commemorate his tireless and dedicated work on behalf of amateur hockey in the territories.

The request was indeed an important one. All too often the efforts of dedicated individuals such as Jon Lindell to help further our young athletes' endeavours go unheralded. Such dedicated individuals are often few and far between and he will be sadly missed.

The wearing of the black shoulder patch shows how much Jon's efforts meant to these kids and the NWT Hockey Association. It will also further serve to remind the players of how much Jon accomplished on their behalf and that there are people out there who care very much about their futures and well-being.

Perhaps there is no other place in this great nation of ours where it is more important for our younger generations to know there are many of us who care about their futures. There are people out there who are willing to go the extra mile for Northern youth, who give freely of themselves and their time with little or no recognition.

The gratitude these special people receive is in the smiles of the youth they help. Every time a Northern athlete raises his or her hand in triumph, an amateur volunteer stands somewhere in the background with a smile as wide as the athlete's.

And, when our Northern athletes don't win, those same volunteers know they afforded them the opportunity to compete and, more importantly, they afforded them the opportunity to learn, to grow as individuals, to understand the value of hard work and being able to look in the mirror and know you did your best.

Study after study, such as the one recently conducted on the Arctic Winter Games by doctors Samuel Lankford and Larry Neal of the World Leisure and Recreation Association, show indisputable significant social benefits to the athletes who compete in amateur events and the communities and volunteers who are involved in various aspects of hosting and team preparation.

Hopefully, the black shoulder patches worn at the Canada Winter Games will serve as a constant reminder to our young athletes how much can be accomplished with hard work and dedication.

Hopefully, it will show all our Northern athletes at the Games just how many people care about who they are, where they're going and what they will accomplish. Sometimes, knowing there are people out there who truly do care, can be the greatest gift of all. And, sometimes we need to be reminded. Thanks Jon.