Editorial page

Monday, October 18, 1999

Reclaiming Resolution Island

Try as we might not to gush, it's hard to find flaws with the Resolution Island cleanup project.

It would appear at first glance, and again at second, that all aspects of the PCB reclamation are above board and chugging along nicely.

Located 310 kilometres south of Baffin Island, the former U.S. military site is heavily contaminated with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), lead, mercury, asbestos and a host of other toxins.

While we have our American neighbours to the south to thank for yet another toxic mess on Canadian soil, we don't need to worry about offering up any thanks for the remediation. Canada has been left holding the bag on millions of dollars worth of former American DEW-Line sites.

Resolution Island falls under that category and to deal with the close to $40 million cleanup, the department of Indian affairs and northern development used their scant dollars and resources to hire the Baffin's Qikiqtaaluk Corporation to do the work.

The location of the island means constant weather delays, but staff and management were able to accomplish most of Year-two's goals this summer.

With the exception of an unexpected lead cleanup that backburnered a few of the other intended priorities, the site is looking a whole lot better than it did almost a decade ago when it's levels of toxicity were first made public.

As for the other off-shoots, the partners should be especially happy that one of their biggest mandates -- training Inuit residents of Baffin -- has been met with flying colours.

Close to 100 residents of Iqaluit and Kimmirut, including more than a handful of women, have been hired and trained over the last two years and in a stroke of genius, site managers created a certificate program that could verify the expertise harboured by the workers.

With three more years to go until Resolution Island is brought into compliance with the various environmental regulations, one can only assume that even more benefits will be realized and that QC should be in a strong, aggressive position to go after future cleanup projects.

Vital service

Thanks to the former Governor General Romeo Leblanc, our nation's Rangers have finally been recognized for the essential service they provide.

We rarely make notice of the Rangers, but they are the ones we see at the cenotaph every Remembrance Day. But more than sombre figures to remember the ones that have fallen, the Rangers are here to provide us all vital service.

When search and rescue teams are required, the Rangers are trained, ready and willing to deploy on a moments' notice. When emergency situations call for help, our Rangers are there first.

We don't often notice them and we hope we never need them, but we can all sleep a little better at night knowing there out there ready if the unexpected happens.

First names

Perhaps the most painful sting the Inuit felt from the expansion of southern culture into the North was when they lost their names.

The names of people and places are links in the chain that binds a people to their culture and their land.

To arbitrarily change them to suit an imposed administrative system is to set people adrift without a map of their own culture.

When Peter Irniq reclaimed his rightful name through the courts, he was reforging the links to his own past.

His successful campaign opens the door for others to follow him in reaffirming their identity, just as changing the names of communities back to their traditional ones restores those places to their rightful place in the cultural landscape.

Congratulations, Mr. Irniq.