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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
'Sharing circle' broken

A mother should not be the last to know when her child is facing serious disciplinary action.

Last week, the mother of a Grade 4 student at Mildred Hall school complained after her son's class held a "sharing circle" to air their displeasure with the boy's bullying behaviour.

The boy was excused from the room while the teacher wrote down his classmates' grievances on a big sheet of paper.

The mother found out about the sharing circle the next day, not from the school but from one of her son's classmates. She was understandably upset.

Principal Yasemin Heyck says she didn't call the mother - although she has in the past - because she didn't have time. "Whether that's right or wrong, that's the reality of my job," she said.

That is not an acceptable excuse.

We can't expect school officials to call home every time little Johnny needs a time-out in the corner. Such relatively minor disciplinary actions can and should be left to the teacher's discretion.

But when the problem is so great that the principal feels she must order a group discussion involving the teacher and the entire class, not informing the parent is simply wrong.

The sharing circle was broken when the mother was not involved. The school owes this mother an apology.

Talent shines on city stages

A host of top-notch theatre, dance and musical events came as early Christmas presents to all Yellowknifers.

Whether it was the Ho Ho Christmas Show, Sir John Franklin drama, Crazy Legs or the Legion's North of 60 Idol, there were plenty of opportunities to enjoy our city's amazing range of talent during the past couple of weeks.

Lights went up on the Ho Ho show from Nov. 16-18 and while it was a tad early to sing Christmas carols, the performance had everyone smiling and clapping.

Sir John's theatre department has developed a reputation for excellence during the past few years and Knights of the Rad Table certainly upheld that tradition.

The Crazy Legs show this past weekend had dance lovers marvelling at the display of grace and athleticism. North of 60 Idol was a hit once again, proving Yellowknifers can't get too much of a good thing.

The quality of performances across the board is outstanding for a city of 20,000 people. If you didn't get to see at least one of the performances, you've missed out on something great.

Next time, get tickets and join in the experience of celebrating some of the best talent Yellowknife has to offer.

Rankin mayor on a roll

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

Mayor Lorne Kusugak would be the last person to take all the credit for himself, but the list of accomplishments for Rankin Inlet during his tenure is an impressive one - and growing.

To date, artificial ice, a new regional health centre, a new trades-training centre and a new regional correctional facility have all reached fruition on his watch.

The impact Kusugak has made for Rankin has not been lost on the community, considering next month will mark the second time he has been acclaimed to the mayor's position.

In short, Kusugak is on a roll.

However, while Rankin now stands to benefit from a few more year's of his leadership, Kusugak must surely be starting to look a little higher and wondering what if...?

Those in the know realize Kusugak has already been courted by a national party - nothing associated with the colour green - hoping he'd run at the federal level.

And, make no mistake about it, if Kusugak made his intention to throw his hat into the federal ring known, suitors would come a calling.

As dedicated and tireless a worker as he is, Kusugak must also be wondering if, and when, the tide will turn in Rankin.

Many a popular political figure, from municipal politics to Sussex Drive, have paid a heavy price for hanging on in one place too long.

In fact, should Kusugak have upwardly-mobile ambitions, some may argue he's already missed the boat and should have ran on his popularity during the last territorial or federal election.

But we don't agree.

We've seen nothing to suggest Kusugak has lost any of his edge during the past few years, nor have we noticed any drop in his desire to improve the quality of life for residents of Rankin Inlet.

As he readies himself for another term, he faces the same peril all municipal leaders do at election time; the uncertainty of a new council about to be elected.

Yet, while hamlet council has lost considerable experience in those councillors not running for re-election, the key members remain in place for another year.

This assures Kusugak of having a solid foundation to start his next term, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming election.

While we have no doubt Kusugak can stay on top of his municipal game for another term, the time is drawing near when he will have to act if he has any territorial or federal aspirations.

He has compiled an impressive enough resume that the capital should be eagerly anticipating his arrival, with the exception, of course, of those whose seat he could possibly take in making the move.

Kusugak has earned the right to be the highest paid mayor in the Kivalliq with his performance, and Rankin would, no doubt, miss his leadership should he decide to move on.

That being said, the good ship Nunavut is seriously listing and can use all the capable hands it can get.

And, politically speaking, Kusugak has proven himself as seaworthy as they come.

The power of addiction

Editorial Comment
Dez Loreen
Inuvik Drum

There are many vices to succumb to in Inuvik. On any given night, you can find yourself among drug dealers, poker players, or bootleggers.

Maybe you think I'm digging too deep into the dark underbelly of our society.

The truth is that there are people in our neighbourhoods who engage in addictive activities every day.

Sure, some of the habits I spoke of are illegal, like drug use and bootlegging.

Others are just frowned upon, like obsessively playing bingo, poker or peel-back Nevada tickets.

From whichever angle you want to look at it, we are all guilty of addiction.

While some of you may argue that you aren't affecting anyone with your habits, think about these points.

Gambling is serious in town and has been for many years. Many people I have talked to confess to playing long nights of poker simply because there is nothing better to do.

Respectable adults spend their cash on peel-back Nevada tickets. They line up en masse to buy bingo cards.

While the proceeds from those games go towards community programs, I wonder if anyone ever loses sleep knowing that they have profited from another person's weakness.

Talk to someone you know who gambles their hard-earned money.

I'll bet, (no pun intended) that they are still "in the hole."

Oh mighty alcohol, you have seized more than your share of the population. Hell, even our youth seek your company.

It's true, alcohol affects everyone in town. Even if you're one of those "friendly" drunks who would never raise a fist, you may still be causing damage to the people around you.

Maybe you aren't hurting anyone on purpose, but I know people who offend anyone in earshot when they have had a few drinks.

Verbal abuse is the younger sibling of physical abuse.

They both can hurt and have long-lasting effects on a person.

I can't go forgetting about the "controlled" substances in town: the weed, the crack and other drugs that slip past the watchful eyes of the RCMP.

Drugs can be deadly. Some drugs can lead to an overdose, while others may lead to detachment from family and friends.

If I owned a hat, I would tip it to Howie Young, Ellen Smith and all the others who put together activities for the community for Addictions Awareness Week.

Only with education can we ever hope to rid our town of addictions.

A place to call home

Editorial Comment
Roxanna Thompson
Deh Cho Drum

On Dec. 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

From that point forward, the declaration has been used around the world as the basis for the rights that every human being should have.

Article 25 of the declaration states that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care..."

When you think of human rights or the lack thereof, you normally imagine Third World countries, mainly in places like Africa.

But here in the North, there are people living without some of rights listed in the declaration -- namely housing.

The situation in the Deh Cho clearly isn't as desperate as parts of Africa where many people have no means of shelter at all or have only shelters made of flimsy material, but we certainly aren't living up to the line, "standard of living adequate to the health and well-being of himself and his family..."

Anyone who's been here for awhile knows that there isn't enough housing. In fact, even people who may have never been to the Deh Cho are aware of the housing situation because they've tried to find accommodations.

When Premier Joe Handley, the minister responsible for the Housing Corporation, attended a public meeting in Fort Simpson last week, he was bombarded by comments and problems related to the housing situation.

Nolan Swartzentruber, the superintendent of the Dehcho Divisional Education Council, pointed out that nurses come to him in their search for accommodations. The council, however, has enough trouble finding housing for their own staff.

Swartzentruber made a good point during his presentation. Even when housing is found, if a person isn't happy with their accommodations and, therefore, life outside of work, they certainly aren't going to be happy at work.

While teachers often only have to deal with the housing situation for one year, because they leave the next maybe due to their living arrangements, it's that much worse for local residents who consider the Deh Cho home.

In Fort Liard, housing has been an ongoing problem. Many residents can tell tales that sound like every homeowner's worst nightmare.

Others don't even have homes. Some people have been waiting more than two years while their houses have sat unfinished.

It's hard to point out exactly who's to blame. Partial responsibility can probably be shared by the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation and the contractors they employ. The answer, however, is clear.

The government needs to be held accountable for the housing conditions that Northerners are faced with.

People shouldn't be forced to deal with sub-standard housing.

Hopefully the new local board in Fort Liard will be able to sort through some of the problems in that community. If it works, similar boards should be used in other communities in need.


A man charged for leaving fishing nets unattended says he has fished Great Slave Lake only intermittently over 59 years, not the entire time as originally quoted ("Charges stayed for unattended net," Nov. 15).