Editorial page

Wednesday, September 29, 1999

Worthy cause in hard times

The proposal for a new youth drop in centre in Yellowknife is an ambitious project.

The Side Door Drop-in Centre is asking city ratepayers to come up with a $250,000 grant to renovate a downtown building that is expected to be donated by the territorial government.

City administration figures that along with the quarter million dollar grant, the Side Door's present operating grant of $40,000 will have to be increased in 2000 to cover increased operations and maintenance costs.

Included in the package is the recommendation that the building and land -- the former Mine Rescue building across from RCMP headquarters -- be exempt from approximately $8,000 in annual property taxes.

Mayor Dave Lovell loves the idea, believing it to be fulfilment of an election promise and an investment in the city's future.

It is a difficult case to argue against. The Side Door is now located in the basement of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church on 52nd St. It has accomplished what many other organizations and committed individuals have attempted in the past 10 years and failed at -- giving city youth not only a place to hang out but one where they want to hang out.

After four years of being open afternoons and evenings four days a week, Side Door's board and staff want to take on greater challenges, even to the extent of offering refuge for homeless kids.

To repeat, it's an ambitious project but there are two troubling aspects.

The first problem is the city's finances. Council, with the rare exception, does not believe costs must be cut. Their historical addiction to spending threatens worthy projects such as this.

The second problem is the absence of mention of sweat equity coming from the kids. How do they figure in and are the ratepayers simply to shoulder the whole burden of someone else's dream yet again?

We trust council will do a careful public assessment as to how to proceed. The need is there. Council will have to decide if the city has the mandate and resources to meet that need.

Show will go on

Movie buffs better get set for some long winter nights, curled up around the warm glow of the TV tube.

With Bellanca Developments' recent takeover of the Capitol Theatre, the property managers will be closing the curtains for two months for renovations.

While silver screen fans look forward to the million-dollar upgrades to the 22-year-old sound and seating, we're dreading the long lines at video stores and the not so new, new releases.

For the next couple of months popcorn will come from the microwave and our heroes will grace the small screen. But come the end of this millennium, we'll all be standing on line for the state of the art big sound, big seats and the big big screen. You just never know what you've got 'til it's gone.

Reading works

We know there is hope for young people, not to mention literature as a whole, when we witness the recent accomplishment of nine-year-old Jaya Bastedo.

Bastedo is the author of A Winter Walk with Haley, a new children's book that takes readers on a romp with her dog Haley.

Not only does this book prove you can never be too young to have a story to tell, but it also is a refreshing evidence that kids still read.

If we start producing adults who do nothing but play video games and watch cable, we're all in trouble. Among the many luxuries in the world, however pleasurable these may be, there's the one pleasure we shouldn't ignore -- literature.

So, let's get reading.

Quantity will follow
Editorial Comment
Dane Gibson
Kivalliq News

There are changes on the way for the Northern Teachers Education Program (NTEP) which should make the program a better one and increase the quality of teachers graduating from its ranks.

Graduates of the NTEP have become the target of some sniping from disgruntled parents of late and, from what we can ascertain, some of it is warranted, some isn't.

There can be doubt in the world the NTEP is a wonderful initiative and a program much needed across Kivalliq and the rest of Nunavut.

However, that being said, the worst mistake which could be made with such a program would be to graduate teachers for the sake of numbers.

It is to absolutely no one's benefit, not the least of which are the young, eager minds of our students, for teachers to be in our classrooms who are less than capable of doing the job.

Conversely, the entire NTEP should not be condemned if, indeed, a few of its graduates are not up to par.

Coral Harbour's Sakku school principal, Ken Beardsall, was quick to defend one of his NTEP teachers this past week when that teacher came under fire from the family of a former education council chairperson.

Beardsall talked about testing procedures in place to evaluate teachers and such procedures should play a major role in the NTEP's future.

If it is shown there are teachers struggling in our classrooms, testing and evaluation should be the vehicles to gently and diplomatically remove them for retraining without any embarrassment to them or their families.

Everyone wants a strong Inuit presence at the front of our Nunavut classrooms, which, with time, will become the rule rather than the exception.

However, this can't happen overnight. In the meantime, it is imperative we not sacrifice our children's education for the sake of the numbers game.

In the grand scheme of things, any teacher told they need further instruction themselves, who is truly dedicated to their profession, should embrace the opportunity to upgrade their teaching abilities.

After all, it's a small price to pay for a rewarding career which pays such high dividends to our territory by turning out bright, eager and well-educated graduates.

As much of a cliche as it may be, our youth are, indeed, our future.

And that future starts in the classroom.