Editorial page

Wednesday, September 1, 1999

The call of duty

Attention concerned citizens! Now's your chance. Vacancies on city council created by the resignations of Peggy Near and Dave Ramsay have given the voters the rare chance for a mid-term re-assessment of the current council.

Byelections will be held to fill the seats.

This is a golden opportunity for all those who have been expressing an opinion about tax hikes, bus service, paving, the resurrection of Franklin Ave., Dairy Queen, etc. to stand up and be counted.

A maxim of political life is that people get the government they deserve. If you feel that the people of Yellowknife deserve better government than they are getting from city hall, now is your chance to do something about it.

Diavik project critical to North

The cost of Diavik's diamond project has jumped and the startup day has been delayed.

The earlier $875 million estimate is now $1.28 billion while the 2002 production date has moved to 2003.

Stock prices for the junior partner in the mine, Aber Resources, plummeted and environmentalists are using the revised figures to take shots at the integrity of Diavik's environmental research.

Yellowknifers have a lot at stake with the Diavik mine and there is some concern the project won't be going ahead.

With the city shrinking in size and gold prices at a low, diamond mining and the secondary industry that can be generated represents the greatest promise of prosperity for the future.

The good news is Aber has the cash to deal with its share of the increased costs. As the story in last Wednesday's Yellowknifer, senior partner Rio Tinto has a payroll as large as the population of the NWT and Nunavut combined. It too can weather the storm.

As for the environmental concerns, the majority of Yellowknifers are convinced diamond mining, if done properly, poses no significant hazard.

If there are outstanding questions about the environmental risks, Indian and North Affairs must take the lionshare of the blame for choosing the flawed process whereby government officials sit in judgement of their own work. It could have been done better in the same timeframe.

We expect the new minister of Indian and Northern Affairs will understand the importance of the Diavik mine project to the NWT and grant the necessary permits with the appropriate conditions.

Yellowknifers support mining. The industry that built this town will always be welcome.

A new purpose

We know we're gonners for the cold winter ahead when we're being targeted as a North American leader for testing high-tech cold-weather consumer goods.

After an American company successfully tested 35 garage-door openers last winter, the company and its Northern connection, Yellowknife's own Ille Royale Enterprises Ltd., is exploring Yellowknife's marketability as not only a future testing site, but as a possible export service city. Sounds good to us.

After all, cold-weather testing isn't a new concept for the North -- automobile companies have been conducting tests in the NWT for years.

As for some ideas for pre-production products, how about some jacuzzis and hottubs or, better yet, self-propelled snowshoes. We'd only need 17,000 pairs.

The land doesn't lie
Editorial Comment
Dane Gibson
Kivalliq News

Throughout the summer, there's been several land camps organized to ensure Inuit youth have the opportunity to learn the ways of their ancestors.

If there seems to be a certain urgency in the need to hold these events, that's probably because there is. Elders are dying and with each passing, another timeless piece of spiritual and cultural knowledge is lost with them.

In the face of the powerful and alienating force of Western culture, youth today are plugged in to the Internet, Nintendo, and Much Music -- but are unsure how to fillet an arctic char.

The teenager says: 'Why do I need to know how to fillet a fish, or even catch one, when I can get an order of Popcorn Chicken at the KFC?'

It seems the elders are the only ones who know how dangerous this reasoning is, and as fewer children speak their traditional language, it's getting harder for elders to communicate their concerns.

The Western machine is running the world today because of it's ability to produce and consume gadgets.

The aboriginal way is to respect the fact that the land, animals and marine life, if respected, will provide everything they need to survive for all time.

Right now, power is flowing to the communities, satellites are delivering cable and phone services but what if the power falters, satellites fail? The West is running on a short-term gain software program that is bound to crash.

Many of the elders of today have retained most of the knowledge and training necessary to live in the Arctic as their ancestors did before them.

For youths to turn their backs on that knowledge to embrace materialism is a mistake. Nobody is going to turn back the clock, but it's important to always view the promises of a technologically driven society with a healthy dose of scepticism.

The most recent camp for youths was organized by the Makkuktut Sangitilirput on Marble Island. The Kivalliq Inuit Association held Pijunnaqsiq '99 this summer, a cultural camp that had five hamlets come together in Coral Harbour.

During the gathering participants did things such as sea mammal hunts, they learned how to make traditional tools, and how to use the backside of caribous to produce thread for sewing.

These are just a few of the unique skills that remain alive here. How important is it for that traditional knowledge to stay alive for future generations?

Elders have always known that the land doesn't lie. The land camps give them a venue to show the youth why that message is so important.