Editorial page

Friday, October 22, 1999

No moratorium on jobs, please

The Akaitcho chiefs are considering court action to enforce a moratorium against further exploration and development on their lands.

Frustrated by what they are calling government inaction, the chiefs have spoken words they may regret.

When oil and gas companies make plans they do so for the long term. When these companies hear words like moratorium, they take their business to countries more receptive to business. And they don't go away for a year or two, they go for 20.

Case in point: Paramount Resources first staked a claim near Fort Liard in the 1950s. When a moratorium was imposed they disappeared for 4 decades.

They're back and Chief Deneron and his people will reap the benefits of this new development.

As the chiefs worry about preserving the land for future generations, the future generations are leaving. Small towns are dying all across the country as our youth heads to the city.

They're leaving in droves for the same reason John Dillinger robbed banks - "'Cause that's where the money is." Who can blame them? Young people in our small communities have very few employment options.

The leaders of our governments are always quick to point out the problems with our youth. All about how much they are doing towards programs, facilities, education and treatment.

Give them something they need most of all - jobs. Working in their home town doing something they can take pride in, while making a decent future for their children is what we need most.

We have raised a generation of highly paid negotiators in an attempt to get these deals made. Meanwhile, the younger generations are no better off than they were when Treaty 8 was signed.

Moratoriums don't create jobs. Lawsuits don't create jobs, except for out-of-town lawyers. What we need here is a deal that takes advantage of the potential in our natural resources. From that potential comes the jobs.

Rethink scholarship rejection

It's unfortunate when people base important decisions on principles when they don't understand the principles involved.

A $1,000 scholarship was proposed by the Town of Iqaluit to go to one Grade 12 Inuk student who wants to go to university.

Iqaluit's District Education Authority turned down the scholarship offer, stating to News/North that they don't "award or leave out one group of students based on their race."

"It's a very fair playing board," they added.

This shows lack of understanding about Nunavut's education system and society.

Nunavut's school curriculum is based upon the minority non-Inuit culture of Nunavut. Most of the knowledge teachers transfer to their students has been identified as critical information by the majority non-Inuit western world.

For Inuit students to do well in school, not only is constant study and discipline required, but they must also successfully adapt to non-Inuit culture. Adapting to a different culture, while maintaining the integrity of your own, is a major task in itself and many fail to do it.

Non-Inuit have had the necessary cultural tools handed down to them over generations to succeed in school. Get up, go to class on time, do your homework, sit still, don't talk unless teacher says so. It's a regimen so rooted in non-Inuit culture it is almost instinctive. That's why the number of non-Inuit graduates far exceeds the Inuit graduates.

To recognize the greater degree of challenge for an Inuk student in achieving a high school certificate is not to discriminate against anyone or tilt the playing field. Instead, it's an acknowledgement of the extra effort required to meet education standards in a different culture.

The district education authority, by rejecting the town's scholarship offer, shows a real need for the members themselves to be educated. There is just too little education money to go around to say no when it's made available. They should rethink their decision.

Virtual gifts

Let's hope the news that a little bit of the Microsoft fortune might be heading to the Northwest Territories will become a reality.

Last week the Department of Culture and Employment announced that negotiations with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are under way that may result in state-of-the-art computer equipment coming to NWT communities.

We can only hope that along with any new equipment comes some money for technical maintenance.

As Marilyn Barnes of the Centennial Library notes, librarians aren't computer scientists, and they're already scrambling to deal with the computers they have.

New equipment is one thing. But without the expertise these virtual libraries could end up being virtually useless.

Award winner

Let us join the chorus of congratulations for Bertha Allen.

Allen was one of five women who was awarded the Governor General's Persons Award, which is given to those who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of the equality of women in this country.

Allen's achievements are legion, but one that stands out is her courageous battle against violence in the home. It takes guts to stand up to threats and intimidation in an effort to make the home a safe place. Bertha Allen has plenty of guts and the rest of us have benefited from her courage.

Allen stands as a role model for us all, men and women. There is no one more deserving for this award.

Skills to be had

An ambitious group of students and one very dedicated teacher have banded together in Taloyoak to publish the Netsilik News.

In doing so, the group is equipping themselves with a host of skills that will aid them in their lives. We ought to know.

It takes organization, stress management, attention to detail and good communication skills to be a reporter. While all of these things are useful in the workplace, they're invaluable as character traits.

We commend the Netsilik News staff on their publication. In providing a worthwhile service to the greater community, they're educating themselves and preparing for the future.

Time change

Take to the streets! Man the barricades! Off with their heads! Don't change your watch! Revolutionary fever is sweeping Canada's newest territory.

Premier Okalik and the brain trust behind him have decided that our sprawling territory of Nunavut should be just one time zone.

It currently encompasses three.

Communities aren't taking this arbitrary measure lying down. In a place that defines itself by its oneness of language, culture and tradition there is a surprising amount of mutiny over the idea of sharing one time zone.

It's a Canadian tradition. Joey Smallwood negotiated a separate time zone for Newfoundland before joining Confederation.

However, as long as we know when the hockey game starts, we're comfortable. We're never on time anyway.