Editorial page

Monday, July 26, 1999

An ounce of prevention

Alcoholism is a problem in the North. Nobody denies that fact. Likewise, nobody denies that there is a relationship between criminal activity and alcohol abuse.

Finally, nobody argues that there is a problem with alcohol and drug abuse among our youth.

With those thoughts in mind, the government of the Northwest Territories' attitude towards the fate of Northern Addiction Services and its plans, or lack thereof, for providing both preventive and counselling services, becomes increasingly puzzling and alarming.

One would suppose that it would be easier, more cost-effective and more socially responsible to work towards a solution to a problem before the problem becomes a much bigger problem?

As it stands now, there are no facilities in the North to deal with youth who have addiction problems, only one for women and three for inmates.

It would almost appear that before you can get help, you have to be arrested.

Somehow, that doesn't seem to be the most effective or responsible of approaches to this growing problem.

Helping the person with an alcohol or drug problem after that person has also been in trouble with the law is a good and admirable thing: a necessary thing.

But to help the situation before it reached that level of crisis would be a much better cost-effective approach.

It is time the government and the North in general became proactive on this problem rather than try to fix it after it blows up and wrecks a life or, worse, many lives.

To eliminate all youth facilities and offer the much-needed help only to inmates is backwards thinking and will not help the long-term health or growth of the North.

We owe our youth as much of a headstart in life as possible, especially those who are dealing with problems like alcohol abuse.

Dynamite deal

The deal between Aber Resources and New York based Tiffany & Company is good news for Diavik's diamond project and the North.

It means cash and an established distribution network for a substantial amount of diamond product to come from the mine.

While at first glance, the deal seems to downgrade the North's need for rough diamonds. In fact it's quite the opposite.

The more financial resources Aber has behind it, coupled with commitments by reputable distributors for marketing, the happier the shareholders will be.

The happier the shareholders, the happier Aber executives are and the more relaxed they will be about selling rough diamonds to Northern manufacturers.

Public image

Skateboarders in the city have a tough job ahead of them in cleaning up their public image.

It is true not all skateboarders are 'rowdy troublemakers' but there are a lot of kids hopping curbs, barrelling down side walks and riding the rails around downtown without much thought to either noise levels or pedestrian safety.

This is especially irritating for a lot of people after the city coughed up over $80,000 last year for a skateboard park in Frame Lake South which was intended to get skateboarders off the street.

We hope that they go ahead with a skateboarding competition Aug. 14 and we hope it is a success. Right now, skateboarders owe Yellowknifers a show of appreciation rather than the other way around.

Learning from each other
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

Full marks must be given to the group of people responsible for turning the Makkuktut Sangitilirput (Youth Becoming Stronger) group into a reality.

Based out of Rankin Inlet, the group's program is delivered through the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre and is part of the Rediscovery family. This is a well-known group with a solid track record of bringing various age groups within specific cultures together to help reinforce pride in their culture and tradition, and bridge the communication gap between young and old.

Makkuktut Sangitilirput is a prime example of the type of program needed in Kivalliq. A way to bring our youth and elders together so that they may rediscover each other and share their thoughts and experiences.

One of the more appealing aspects of the Makkuktut Sangitilirput program is that it is fun to participate in. As the group grows, the program intensifies and word of mouth spreads from its initial participants, an increasing number of local youth should be enticed to take part.

The youth, of course, stand to benefit from the elders' knowledge on culture and tradition and more tangible skills, such as hunting and fishing and survival on the land. The youthful participants are also afforded the opportunity to refamiliarize themselves with Inuit stories and legends, begin or improve upon their Inuktitut skills and get a better understanding of their culture's amazing journey from living on the land to having their own territory.

As important as these benefits are to our youth, understanding is a two-way street and our elders also stand to gain plenty from such programs. The problems, challenges, issues and decisions which face our youth today differ greatly from those of their parents, let alone those of their grandparents.

Intimate gatherings such as Makkuktut Sangitilirput provide elders with the opportunity to hear their youth voice their hopes and concerns, dreams and ambitions in their own words. It gives our elders valuable insight into the modern issues our youth are dealing with. And, it affords them the opportunity to integrate those concerns into their own cultural teachings so they may be able to address some of them from a spiritual sense in future encounters.

The Makkuktut Sangitilirput group is another valuable stepping stone in creating a harmonious balance in today's diversified society. It is another tool to provide our youth with a means of staying in touch with their past as they head out to meet the new horizons of their collective futures -- and a way for our elders to help them with that journey. And, hopefully, it is a program which will grow in popularity and continue to benefit both our youth and our elders for many years to come.