Editorial page

Friday, April 21, 2000

History lesson

Miramar Con mine's representatives certainly have a truncated sense of history.

At a public hearing held last week about the renewal of the company's water licence, representatives informed those in attendance that the mine site "historically ... has been ... for industrial uses."

Sitting in the audience were elders whose memories painted a different picture, one of berry patches lost to a mine development and once pure water contaminated in the aftermath of gold production.

Miramar are recent owners of the mine, and were not the original developers, but their clumsy skewing of history doesn't build much credibility.

In the wake of the diamond mine approval process, the Colomac fine and the environmental horror at Giant, public sensitivity over the environmental impact of mines is at an all-time high.

The economy needs the jobs that mines provide. But we need a clean environment, too. We need to know that mining companies are aware of their impact, both past and present.

Election debate

There are so many things people do just because it's always been done that way.

Municipal elections are a lot like that, and when new ideas come forward it's easy to discard them as unworkable.

That's one way to look at a rejected suggestion from Yellowknife city council to allow a candidate to run for both mayor and council. The way it was proposed -- running separate elections -- may not have been workable, but the idea remains worth considering.

Perhaps we shouldn't hold an election for mayor at all, but simply name the person with the greatest number of votes for council the mayor. It could help raise the level of debate and spur renewed voter interest on election day.

The idea certainly led to considerable debate among city councillors. Proposed as a resolution to be forwarded to the NWT Association of Municipalities convention, it was defeated by a vote of council and won't be debated on the floor of the NWTAM.

That debate would have been something to hear, and might have led to a better way to improve local elections.

The roadshow

In calling for a road down the Mackenzie Valley, Premier Stephen Kakfwi has added his voice to that of one his most outspoken constituents, Cece McCauley, who now resides in Norman Wells.

McCauley, who writes a weekly column for News/North, has been demanding just such a road for well over a decade, citing the benefits for all of the NWT. She is not afraid of calling a spade a spade and keeps true to the campaign slogan she used when she ran for parliament -- Cece Never Ceases... raising the road issue at every opportunity.

Perhaps the premier should put McCauley's clout to good use warming up those southern crowds, dazzling the power brokers with her road obsession. At the very least, the feds may just find the money to make Cece cease.

Cleaning up

Yellowknifer columnist Walt Humphries was bang on in his suggestion with how to discipline people for public drunkenness.

It does the public little good to cram 150 drunks into a cell to "sleep it off." The offenders don't learn anything from it and each Caribou Carnival we face the same situation.

Sure, let the partiers sleep it off, but then give them a broom to sweep the glass off the street in the morning.

As Walt said, if we're holding 150 drunks overnight, the current system isn't working. Perhaps scooping up vomit and beer cans with a vicious hangover might change some attitudes about over-indulgence.

Catching my breath
Editorial Comment
Daniel MacIsaac
Inuvik Drum

I can barely keep up with all the things that have been going on at Inuvik's two schools.

Samuel Hearne has just got over its successful production of Anne of Green Gables and students are already warming up for the annual Super Soccer tournament. Sir Alexander Mackenzie appears to have at least one guest speaker or event planned every week. The administration has been doing a great job getting the kids involved in a wide variety of activities and in exposing them to a range of visitors.

The Inuvik Native band must also be commended for hosting the kids out at Rachel Reindeer Camp, where they've been treated to Liz Hansen's lectures, John Jerome's showmanship and a lot of good cooking.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about all these goings-on, since they provide ample subject matter for the Drum, and a steady supply of photo-happy kids. I am like the teachers, however, who I'm sure are breathing a brief sigh of relief now that spring break has arrived.

About face

Northern News Services has a new face in Inuvik. Jim Chaloner, a former community newspaper publisher from friendly Manitoba, began working out of the Inuvik Drum office last week. He'll be looking after the business and photography side of the things in the Beaufort Delta as well as contributing to the News/North weekly.

Raised in the operation of a small-town family newspaper in his home town of Grandview, Jim says he had the opportunity to grow up understanding the pride people put into their community. For him, the diversity of culture, friendly people and the beauty of the North are to be cherished. He says it takes courage, tenacity and survival skills to live and work in this arctic environment.

Jim added he made use of his own survival skills on his recent drive to the Delta. What should have been a three-day, albeit 4,300-kilometre, jaunt from the Manitoba border turned into a 12-day odyssey. That included a vehicle breakdown in Fort Nelson, B.C., in -40 C weather, and a road closure on the Dempster that left him and a convoy of truckers stranded in Eagle Plains for several days.

Needless to say it was a sigh of relief that Jim caught his first glimpse of sunny Inuvik when he finally pulled into town.

Northern News wishes him better luck now that he's reached civilization.

It's better to earn it
Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

We all remember those words of wisdom our parents repeated over and over when we were young. Lines like, "You'll never appreciate the value of money until you earn it yourself."

How true. The same principle applies to the youth centre in Fort Providence. A number of hard-working, benevolent adults in the community could have done all the groundwork for the youth and then opened the doors, letting them reap all the benefits without any of the toil or responsibility. How then would they ever come to appreciate the value of the building and its contents?

Now that several students have been involved in establishing the youth centre from square one, there's a greater likelihood they will really feel a sense of ownership of the place. That doesn't rule out the existence of some trouble-makers who may very well steal or destroy some of the contents of the building, but it lessens the chances.

The youth centre is the property of their peers, who worked hard to get it off the ground, and a place where all youth can go.

These are the sorts of lessons we are better off learning early in life. Growing up, I demanded the $100 top-of-the-line shoes and $80 jeans. My parents -- I don't know how they pulled it off financially -- always seemed to accommodate my sister and I, but I took those things for granted. When I moved out on my own and began a full-time job, I soon found myself settling for the less expensive $50 shoes and $50 jeans. It was my money now, and after paying for rent, groceries and other assorted bills, the fashion trends didn't seem to matter so much; any clothing that was comfortable and keeping my head above water became much more important.

The idea is simple -- we have to work for the things we want. That same principal holds true for talent such as that possessed by Johnny Landry. Although some people may be blessed with an inherent ability to excel at music, sports, art or other facets of life, it's the diligent practice to hone and perfect those skills that will make the difference between being good and great.

As Landry pointed out, it's a shame there are so many youth in the region who have an inclination towards playing music, but there are few, if any, school programs from which they can benefit.

Government cutbacks have made this a reality, but that doesn't prohibit someone like Landry from offering guidance, so he has done just that. We need adults to come forward and volunteer their time to provide inspiration and instruction to those who want to learn.

After all, we can't really compel students to take an interest in music, art or sports, but for those who do, we can at least be there to help them get a good start.

Recognizing students' efforts
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

The students at Maani Ulujuk middle school in Rankin deserve praise for their superb fund-raising efforts for the World Vision Famine event.

Although the school was involved with the event years ago when it also had high school students, this was the first time MUI participated since it became solely a middle school when Alaittuq high opened.

A tip of the hat is also warranted to all the good folks in Rankin who so willingly signed up to sponsor the participating kids.

Their generosity proves, once again, the Kivalliq region is second to none when it comes to our willingness to help others.

Derby a winner

If an organization must hold a fishing derby to further its cause, the one held recently by Youth Getting Stronger youth co-ordinator Dale Smutylo is a shining example of how it should be done.

No overwhelming prizes were offered to attract hundreds of people looking to simply cash in with a big new TV or machine.

The people who took part in the first annual Elders and Youth Fishing Derby were there for the right reasons.

The actual fishing came a distant second to young and old spending quality time together, enjoying each other's company and taking part in a number of activities.

With the building of iglus by at least two groups of participants, the event was solidified as a true family event. Hopefully, the derby will keep its initial format and grow in popularity for the same positive reasons in the years to come.

Speaking frankly

It remains to be seen if Arviat MLA Kevin O'Brien can effectively carry out his new role as Speaker of the house in the Nunavut legislative assembly and still address the concerns of his constituents.

His election on the first ballot proved O'Brien deserves the position, and there's little doubt as to his sincerity in keeping the interests of Arviat voters at the top of his priority list.

However, a number of Nunavut politicians have found holding multiple portfolios to be increasingly difficult and it's no secret Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove voters are less than impressed with the performance of their MLAs since taking on the added responsibilities of ministerial duties.

Hopefully, if O'Brien sees the people of Arviat suffering because of his new position, he will stay true to his word and resign from the Speaker's role to concentrate on his constituents.

The people of the Kivalliq deserve no less than their elected MLAs' complete attention and dedication to meeting the many challenges facing our region.