Wednesday, November 22, 2006
During the week of Nov. 6-12, six machines were stolen. Thieves tried to get away with a seventh, but were foiled by the fact it was secured with a big lock and chain.
It's not like this is a new problem. In January and February, 37 snowmobiles were stolen. It was all over Yellowknifer's front page.
Police arrested 10 youth suspected of stealing snowmobiles. One youth, then 14, was suspected of having stolen three snowmobiles. A city councillor accused the young thieves of "terrorizing" citizens.
What's it going to take for people to take this problem seriously?
You can rant about our weak-kneed justice system, or do something about the problem.
If you don't want your snowmachine stolen, lock it up.
Put it in a shed or garage. Don't just abandon it in your driveway or front yard and expect that it will be there the next day. You can't even leave it unlocked for a half-hour while you run uptown for a jug of milk.
It's a sad statement about our society, but the temptation of an unsecured snowmobile is just too much for some people to resist.
Police have more important things to do than chase stolen sleds that people don't secure.
Our insurance rates are high enough without having to add daily snowmobile thefts to the bottom line.
It's time people took responsibility for their property.
"If it weren't for Sister Sutherland, I don't know what I'd do."
The gold mines that drove Yellowknife's economy may have closed but mining remains a mainstay of our economy.
Consider these facts:
- in 2005, mining and oil and gas industries invested $1.06 billion in the NWT;
- $1.683 billion worth of diamonds were pulled from the ground; and,
- mining and oil and gas account for 9.8 per cent of all the jobs in the NWT.
Ekati and Diavik diamond mines have replaced the lost gold jobs and soon, De Beers' Snap Lake mine will provide even more wealth. A fourth NWT diamond mine, De Beers' Gahcho Kue, is not too far in the future.
This week, more than 800 leaders of the mining industry are gathered in Yellowknife for the 33rd annual Geoscience Forum. They will talk about new developments, share knowledge and socialize.
We hope they are having a great time, because mining remains an important part of Yellowknife.
For those of you who don't follow such things, Rankin Inlet came within a bad call of becoming Canada's hockey town this past year.
Although it didn't win, for the hamlet to go as far as it did in a national competition was impressive.
In fact, the blades didn't fall off until the contest reached the point where the shear number of people living in southern communities was enough to bury the upstart Kivalliq hamlet.
But, that's a topic for another day.
This year, Rankin residents seem more determined than ever to show their love for the sport, and what's been happening at the local arena for the past month has been nothing short of incredible.
About 200 people have been showing up four nights a week for Rankin Inlet Adult Recreational Hockey League games.
Trust me when I say - and not just because I'm a hockey guy - if you live in Rankin and haven't been taking in any of the games, you're missing out on a lot of fun.
A number of reasons are behind the success of the league this year.
First and foremost, behind Rankin's love of the sport, is the fact the four-team league is quite competitive.
There have been few blowouts and a number of games have been decided in overtime.
Secondly, Josie Kusugak has found a hobby during his retirement years. Kusugak has been behind the microphone and playing the tunes for a number of years during the Avataq Memorial hockey tournament.
And, these days, he can be found spinning tunes and announcing goals and penalties during rec action.
It may not sound like much to those uninitiated to hockey culture, but the atmosphere found at the arena most nights this year rivals that of many southern locales.
The wave of bouncing bodies and bobbing heads in the stands illustrates how much his contribution adds to the hockey experience.
Next up is the league executive, which has done a fine job in strengthening and promoting the circuit.
Executive members are hinting that even more fan-friendly surprises are on the way in the near future.
Finally, while there are some players and/or fans who may never admit it, the new standards being enforced by the officials are making the game more fun to watch.
That's especially true in recreational leagues that boast a high-calibre of talent, of which Rankin is one.
The game is faster, and more talented players now have the opportunity to show their skills without a stick blade pulling at their side or an arm wrapped around their waist.
Add up the number of championship banners in the community during the past few years, and you quickly realize Rankin has a number of players who can dangle with the best of them at this level.
The spirit and enthusiasm at the games this year are good for a healthy community.
In short, they're fun to be at.
And, with free admission, it's not like it will cost you anything more than your time to drop by and check it out.
There I was, sitting in an audience of high school students and faculty at Samuel Hearne.
We were all gathered in the gym for a Remembrance Day assembly.
It was all fairly routine - students sang their songs, read their poems and performed a skit for their peers.
The school had also invited veteran Fred Church and Boot Lake MLA Floyd Roland to speak to the students.
Church's words were those of sincerity and valour.
When Roland spoke, he reached out to the students on their own front.
In what started as a sure-fire speech about what our grandparents died for, Roland spun the whole room around by talking about the significance of a war simulation game.
That's right, video games. He spoke our jive lingo!
"Playing war games gives you a good idea of what the veterans went through in the Second World War," said Roland.
With a speech that name-dropped the XBOX 360, and playing online over XBOX live, you would think that our MLA has spent a lot of his own time fighting virtual wars from the trenches of his living room.
I have to commend the man on his choice of approach. I don't think he would discuss video games with the veterans at the Legion.
He saved that nugget for the perfect audience.
I looked around the gym at all of the young gamers in the crowd who were nodding their heads, remembering some of the simulated battles they had played.
Regardless of what you may think, many of these games I speak of are incredibly accurate portrayals of World War II, and I'm sure veterans would confirm that.
Roland's speech shows that there are people out there who are reaching out to youth in ways they can understand, that relate to their experiences.
Successful role models like Roland are a good example of what is possible for the youth of tomorrow.
Remembrance Day is a time for us to reflect on soldiers who died in the two world wars, and overseas in more recent conflicts.
I want to commend those veterans in town who shared their stories with youth this past week.
I also want to thank the people who organized the local events this past week, for reminding us all, lest we forget.
Congratulations are in order for Kayla Betsaka, Kyra Tanche and Bhreagh Ingarfield of Nahanni Butte.
For three girls from a small community in the Northwest Territories that most people in Canada probably couldn't find on a map to win a national award is a considerable achievement.
The magnitude of the accomplishment is increased by the fact that the nomination for the award came from someone that none of the girls seem to know. Having a family or community member nominate you for an award is one thing but having a stranger from a different territory nominate you is quite another.
An example can be taken from the girls who are happily willing to give up time during their week to look after animals that might otherwise be mistreated or abandoned.
Not everyone has to be an animal hero, but there are plenty of causes in every community that could use a helping hand.
The Christmas season won't be quite the same in Fort Simpson without the Metis Christmas party.
As with most things relating to Christmas, the party was primarily designed for the children. There are very few children who don't enjoy getting a Christmas present a few days before the actual big day.
But Marie Lafferty, the president of the Metis Nation, had a point when she noted that the presents themselves might not be missed since most families can afford gifts for their children.
What might be missed more is the event itself. It was a time when families and children could come together, share in the holiday spirit and participate in fun activities. Last year's celebrations, which were purposefully designed with the whole family in mind, included cookie decorating, craft making and pinata breaking. The Open Doors Society helped with the programming.
The event filled the recreation centre with the shrill screams and giggles of small children and the quieter reaction of their parents.
It's unfortunate that the Metis Nation no longer has the funding for the event, but $15,000 is notably a lot of money to put forward every year. Hopefully a new, and less expensive, alternative to the Christmas party will be found. One option could be a party without the presents. Before the elaborate gifts were given out last year, there was still lots of fun to be had at the party.
Those in the community who are disappointed to think that a 12- year tradition is about to be broken should step forward to help come up with new ideas to keep the Christmas spirit rolling in Fort Simpson.
Duane Fleming's name was incorrectly spelled in an article appearing in Friday's Yellowknifer ("Women's shelter safe for now," Nov. 17). Yellowknifer apologizes for any embarrassment or confusion caused by the error.