Editorial page

Monday, December 17, 2001

Better nurses make for better care

A Northern nurse is a jack of all trades. Front-line caregiver, health educator, confidante and advocate -- the job demands are many.

They must be prepared for every possibility: gunshot wounds, frostbite, difficult births, cuts, broken bones and runny noses.

The responsibilities they shoulder are more than their counterparts in the south.

A nurse practitioner program at Aurora College is one step the government is taking to recognize community health needs and the jobs nurses do.

Giving nurses this higher level of training is a step toward improving health care in the NWT. Nurses who take this training will be better equipped to diagnose illness and treat their patients.

Most important is that people who live in remote communities will receive a higher level of medical care without having to spend precious time away from home and family.

There are concerns. Doctors are worried about their liability if something goes wrong. It is a valid concern, but one that shouldn't derail the program.

The government should enact legislation to regulate nurse practitioners and their role in the health care system. And it should encourage more nurses to take this training.

Time to act like a city

Iqaluit prides itself on its label of "city." But in a lot of ways, it doesn't act that way. For example, the process of creating boundaries for dogs has languished for months and the street sign project still hasn't reached fruition. Other cities take these types of things for granted.

In addition, although council must be commended on its efforts to step up enforcement of bylaws, it should also be prodded to create the structures that will make that enforcement possible. Without a building inspector or proper measures in the permitting process, Iqaluit residents will never be fully safe in their homes.

And who wants to live in a city where it's not safe to live?

A new leader and new challenges

Cathy Towtongie will have her hands full the next three years, steering Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. through the corporate equivalent of adolescence. It's a young territory and now is when the land claim watchdog will establish its long-term relationship with the federal and territorial governments.

The newly renamed Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (formerly the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada), meanwhile, is heading into its fourth decade, full of enthusiasm and energy.

There is no manual to follow and few lessons in Canadian history to help the two organizations figure out how to handle the enormous task of safeguarding the rights of thousands of beneficiaries.

Of one thing we can be sure, however: Nunavut and its people will have to fight hard to make sure Ottawa lives up to its obligations. When it comes to the attention of federal politicians and the resources at their disposal, the competition is fierce. For starters, there are other aboriginal organizations, some with their own land claims, some struggling to get as far as Nunavummiut have come.

And then there is the rest of the country and the rest of the world. The Tapiriit, faced with those challenges, would like to see stable, long-term financing from Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

It sounds like a good idea, but everyone who depends on federal funding wants stable financing. The CBC has been seeking it for what seems like decades. Sadly, as recent events in the United States and Afghanistan prove, short-term responses almost always beat long-term promises. Stable financing in this political climate just isn't realistic.

Until we work our way through this difficult time, one that will strain everyone's budget and patience, ITK and NTI can probably accomplish more by focusing on political goals, such as overhauling DIAND, rather than trying to squeeze more money from Ottawa.

Whatever comes to pass, we wish both Towtongie and the ITK the best of luck.

Lights are small beacons of hope

Often, too often perhaps, many of us overlook those things that make our world a better place.

Christmas beckons to us to reconsider the importance of small gestures. Denis Savoie, owner of To-Go Take-Out restaurant in Inuvik, is famous for having the self-proclaimed "best caribou and musk ox burgers in the North." Christmas lights welcome customers to To-Go.

Four years ago, Savoie's son, Beau, then 4, asked him for Christmas lights. Out of this simple request, a tradition was born. Savoie says it reminds him of the Christmas spirit of decoration in his native New Brunswick. He strings about 6,000 light bulbs outside To-Go. Last year, he lost about 200 through theft or vandalism. So far this year he's lost 37.

Savoie isn't deterred: "It's Christmas spirit and I hope other people will decorate, too ... people like it and the kids love it."

From Inuvik, we have a simple yet powerful lesson reminding us of the meaning of Christmas.

The real jackpot

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

We have to admit it's quite easy to adopt a sitting-on-the-fence attitude when it comes to bingo as a fundraiser in the Kivalliq.

Let's be honest. The monies raised go a long way towards supporting a number of worthwhile programs in our communities. Further complicating the matter is that so much of the money goes towards maintaining recreational facilities and supporting our local athletes.

After all, should everyone in the country be refused a beer because one per cent of our population are alcoholics?

The gambling argument is nothing new. In the South, bingo playing is overshadowed in most places by video lottery terminals.

VLTs are often referred to as the crack cocaine of the gambling world, but the similarities to bingo in the North are many when it comes to splitting up the profits.

With so many people benefiting from the proceeds, it's hard to say bingo is a bad thing simply because some people don't know when they've spent enough.

When you look at the big picture, that's a pretty fair assessment.

However, hamlets should strive diligently to ensure organizations are able to account for the money they've raised and where it's spent.

We don't have anything against exchange groups raising money to travel, but we do agree that bingos being held simply to raise prize money for things like fishing derbies is a bad idea.

If people want to kill something in hopes of winning a prize, let them pay to play.

It would also be a good idea for our hamlets to put some of the mega-bucks they're raking in towards helping those who are spending too much on their dabbers.

Maybe a timely donation once or twice a year to a local organization to distribute educational material on excessive gambling habits.

Even a paper band or stapled sheet to bingo cards asking the buyer quite simply, "Is your family doing without because you bought this card?" may give those developing a problem cause to think.

There can be no denying bingo revenues help our communities in many ways. But we must do what we can to keep any damage resulting from the game to a minimum. Giving a tiny percentage of the profits back in a way that might prevent some people from hurting their families is money well spent.

Just the gesture alone shows people that we, as a community, care. And that's hitting the jackpot every time.

Reclaiming pages from the past

Editorial Comment
Malcolm Gorrill
Inuvik Drum

Memories stemming from the days of reindeer herding in the Delta before the advent of snowmobiles have been captured in the form of a book to prevent them from becoming lost over the years.

Reindeer Days Remembered was written by Elisa Hart, with help from local Inuvialuit researchers, and is based mostly on interviews with herders as well as some of their wives.

Starting next fall, the plan is that high school students will be reading the book as part of their studies. Hart revealed that while doing her research she developed a real admiration for the hard tasks the herders performed.

It is her hope that this book will instill pride among students in their forebears as well.

It is to be hoped too that Reindeer Days Remembered will bring history home for all who read it. After all, history does not just concern events which transpired in other parts of the world like Europe or southern Canada.

Santa Claus Parade a success

Inuvik's Santa Claus Parade was a success by all accounts.

Many people took part, a lot braved chilly temperatures to watch the floats go by, and Santa Claus was able to attend.

As well, it was obvious a lot of thought and hard work had gone into the floats.

Here's hoping another parade can be held next year. Such events help bring people together and boost community spirit.

Congratulations to the organizers and participants.

Sweet music, special evening

It wasn't quite the night before Christmas, but all through the Igloo Church, sweet music could be heard Sunday evening at the community Christmas concert.

It was a night to remember, complete with many talented singers, a large crowd at hand, and lots of songs, some serious, some comical.

All those who took part should take a bow.

Life's lessons

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum, Fort Simpson

The regional soccer trials in Fort Simpson this past weekend were a microcosm of life's trials and tribulations.

Players from several Mackenzie communities gave every ounce of effort to make an impression on the coaches. Most players did, anyway. Some weren't as energetic. Some wound up getting cut. Some didn't take it very well.

Nobody welcomes the news that they're just not good enough to make the grade. But that's life. There will be other occasions when they strive to achieve a goal but come up short. Learning to be resilient is vital.

Not making the team isn't a judgement of a person's overall character, talents or worthiness. Nor is being cut tantamount to failure. If a player gives 100 per cent, as the old cliche goes, that's all he or she can do.

Disappointment over being cut is a natural reaction, but harbouring resentment or allowing one's self-esteem to bottom out is not healthy.

There are those who may argue that sports shouldn't emphasize who wins and who loses, that a teenager shouldn't be omitted from a team's roster. It's true, camaraderie and social bonding, as well as the chance to travel, are appealing aspects of sports. There are plenty of recreational activities that do not hinge on victory or defeat. Yet the nature of sports is to determine a winner and a loser.

There comes a time, such as during Super Soccer and the Arctic Winter Games, when the competitive edge is an integral part of the proceedings. Sometimes that will mean that certain players see limited action or sit on the bench for an entire game. That may be tough for a 12-year-old to swallow but by age 16 such realities should start to sink in.

Everybody wants to score the winning goal, be the hero or the star. It's not going to happen for everyone -- not on the court, the ice, the field or in life in general. You learn to contribute in ways you can. You learn to be honest about your own capabilities, but always endeavour to improve yourself and be a well-rounded individual. That way, life's disappointments don't feel like a ton of bricks.

Also worth noting, the selection camp format does seem to be an improvement over the previous team-based approach. In the past, players from smaller communities, no matter how talented, had little chance of competing in team sports at Arctic Winter Games because their communities had inferior teams or none at all. Now all players, if they register on time, have a chance to show their stuff.


In the Nov. 30 issue of News/North, Mary Inuktaluk's name was spelled incorrectly. News/North regrets the error and apologizes for any inconvenience it may have caused.