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Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Trash cash

New dump fees could discourage spontaneous cleanup efforts
Old cars, $100; construction waste, $40 per tonne; tainted soil, $60; broken glass, $65. At those prices, that's not garbage going into Yellowknife's world-famous - if not world-class dump - it's gold.

Or so it might seem to city managers who expect a surge in the cash flow from the new schedule of tipping fees introduced July 1.

Yellowknifers seem resigned to the new order, but may not be so easy-going come Jan. 1, 2006. That's when we will probably begin to pay a $5 fee to drop household waste at the landfill.

There's one problem that's already cropping up, however, and that's how to ensure civic-minded people don't end up paying for someone else's mess.

One such person balked at paying $4 each to dispose of three tires he fished from Great Slave Lake.

And what will happen to the annual Ingraham Trail cleanup? Will the city charge volunteers to discard trash they collect from the side of the road? After all, it's outside city limits and none of the city's business.

If the fees discourage independent or organized clean-up efforts, or worse, inspire guerrilla dumping, then the gold will turn to slag.

It rocks!

The stage at Long Lake has seen countless performers - singers, dancers, bands and people who don't quite fit in any category - over the last 25 years.

And every year, the Folk on the Rocks music festival, plainly stated, rocks!

It's not just the music that gets people out for the weekend. And it's certainly not the weather or lack of bugs, what with rain all Saturday and mosquitoes and black flies throughout the weekend.

What brings people back is the magic that develops between fans and performers.

We love having the musicians here, and they love being here.

Each year, Yellowknifers embrace musicians from around the world, make them feel welcome in our homes and show them we love live entertainment.

This festival gives small name bands the chance to shine beside the big name ones. It brings various groups together to collaborate and share musical influences, and then influence others.

Folk on the Rocks isn't just about listening to music, it's about coming together and sharing a magical moment in time.

Can we tackle spousal abuse?

Editorial Comment
Brent Reaney
Kivalliq News

A report last week by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics shows spousal violence is three times more likely to occur in aboriginal homes than those of other Canadians.

This reporting of statistics on sensitive subject matter is worsened by the fact it comes without context.

Income and education were listed in the report as non-factors in the rate of spousal abuse.

But what about the number of unemployed people living in overcrowded conditions with hungry kids crawling around?

Does it mean anything if that percentage of aboriginal people is three times higher than the Canadian average?

Maybe not, but the point is there is more to the issue of domestic violence in aboriginal communities than the rate of occurrence.

Stats only part of picture

And it angers me when statistics are used by the news media to paint only a portion of a complex picture.

To learn more, I downloaded the full report from the Statistics Canada website.

The document contains no Nunavut-specific numbers, but I'll save the topic of how and why Nunavut is often an information blank hole for another day.

And whether the numbers in this federal report directly apply to the territory or not, it is hard to deny we have a problem with domestic violence.

If you don't believe me, sit in court next time the circuit stops in your community.

And last year, the Qullit Status of Women Council said RCMP estimates show crimes against women as having increased every year since division.

The question is, what can we do about violence within our relationships?

Alcohol raises risk

In the middle of the report, a line reads "the use of alcohol elevates risk of spousal violence in a relationship."

Not to take a small portion of a large body of work and blow it out of proportion, but maybe more attention should be paid to alcohol consumption within Nunavut communities.

During hamlet elections this past winter, residents of Baker Lake voted to have liquor import applications approved by a seven-member committee.

At the time, some thought the idea would have little if any impact.

Then last week, a member of the community's RCMP detachment said he would attribute at least some of this year's quieter summer in terms of crime to the new system.

While no numbers are available, we can only assume a portion of the reduction in calls would have involved spousal abuse.

Obviously, reducing the number of incidents involving spousal violence across the territory is not as simple as implementing an alcohol committee in each community.

But even if statistics don't give us the reasons behind the problem, they still indicate a need for action.

A simple gesture

Editorial Comment
Jason Unrau
Inuvik Drum

It was like seeing lightening in the Delta.

I was coming down the stairs at Sir Alexander Mackenzie school following the special concert by a trio of Tuvan throat singers who performed for NWT Summer Games participants.

Also coming down the stairs were several youth, other concert goers and an elder, one slow step at a time, both her hands clutching the banister. She looked determined: she made it up the stairs and by golly she was going to get herself down.

As with many other "lost arts," courtesy and manners are on an ever growing list of niceties not seen so often any more. So it was surprising indeed to see a youngster approach the elder and ask if she needed help getting down the stairs.

In fact, after far too often seeing kids squeezing between a door and somebody else exiting or entering a building, witnessing this simple gesture was extraordinary. The only unfortunate thing about it was that other kids weren't around to take note.

Got a smoke for after that fried chicken?

Okay. Perhaps it's not worth dwelling too much on athletes' fast food binge at last weekend's summer games.

At the end of the day, a few visits to the local fried food outlet isn't going to kill you. Besides, the first ever NWT Summer Games were a success if one based it on the number of wide smiles on participants' faces.

And at the end of the day, that's what it's really all about.

However, seeing some participants in their blue jackets smoking cigarettes was anything but positive. Athletes selected to attend were between the ages of 10 to 14 years old, so the oldest any of these smokers-in-training could have been is five years short of actually being able to legally buy the darn things.

As a smoker who has had little success quitting despite numerous attempts, I dislike seeing kids getting hooked on such dreadful things as cigarettes.

It's true that in our younger days many of us tried smoking to feel cool or to fit in, but those nasty nicotine sticks will hook you before you know it.

Perhaps in the future, Sport North could adopt a similar policy to the one Inuvik Minor Hockey League has with regard to sending its players to compete with the territorial team or to attend high performance hockey camps. If you smoke, you won't be considered.

As many in Inuvik know, 16-year-old Mark Orbell was seriously injured in a car accident on the Dempster Highway last week.

The Drum has learned that members of the community have set up an account at the Inuvik branch of the Imperial Bank of Commerce for those who wish to make a donation to help see Mark and his family through this difficult time.

An uneasy truce

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

Finally, Dehcho First Nations and the federal government are openly discussing their settlement agreement.

On Monday, each side held its own tele-conference on to comment on the deal.

If they supposedly reached a compromise, then couldn't they at least hold a joint press conference?

The answer to that question became apparent after listening to both parties. It seems the concept of federal consultation with the Dehcho on the pipeline project is a grey area.

Yes, each side had a copy of the agreement with the words clearly laid out before them. But those words are subject to interpretation, and, not surprisingly, each party has a different read on that particular article of the agreement.

The Deh Cho appears to think the consultation will give them at least some sway, a modicum of authority. Conversely, the federal negotiators explicitly inserted the words "if appropriate" in the clause, meaning that DFN can scream all it wants about the pipeline but Ottawa doesn't necessarily have to act. This, undoubtedly, will prove to be a real point of contention in the future.

It's a lawyer's delight this self-government/litigation stuff.

The families of David Horesay and Fred Hardisty would prefer that the RCMP don't investigate themselves in assessing actions or lack thereof taken when the men went missing.

That is a reasonable concern. Police forces that carry out their own probes, in some instances, have been found to protect their officers.

While the family does have some legitimate questions, there have also been an incredible number of grossly distorted stories and hurtful rumours flying around since this most unfortunate ordeal began.

As family member Joseph Horesay stated, the relatives of the two men who perished in the North Nahanni are seeking closure.

The recovery of their bodies is the first step. We can only hope the police and families are able to take the next step together.

If nothing else, an enhanced communications and search protocol between the police and the families must be established.

That protocol then must be revisited annually so that police officers new to the community and newly elected chief and council - or designated community search and rescue members - are familiar with it.

If mock disasters and mock oil spill exercises are held regularly, why can't co-operative search and rescue training take place, too? It can, but only if both sides want it to happen.


In the Yellowknifer story "NWT youth hit the road," July 15, the female youth standing addressing the crowd in the photo was misidentified. It is Rhonda John of Aklavik. Yellowknife apologizes for the error.