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Friday, November 3, 2006
Taking aim at tougher laws

For a hunter, bagging a moose during the fall season is the ultimate prize.

Typically, it's no easy task. Moose are elusive animals and many hunters come home empty-handed.

Last week, senior wildlife officer Raymond Bourget put hunters on notice that using scent baits and electrical or mechanical gizmos is a definite no-no. Hunters caught using them can find themselves in a heap of trouble.

His warning is directed at the proliferating sales of such devices at the few Yellowknife stores that carry them. There is nothing in the NWT Wildlife Act that says you can't sell them. You just can't use them while on the hunt.

There's nothing unreasonable about this law.

Wildlife should be protected from man's increasing technological advances. Otherwise, it would be no contest; hunters would be more dependent on their gadgets than their experience and abilities.

But while the territorial government is taking aim at the gizmos and scent baits, we have to wonder about what's missing from the Wildlife Act.

Last January, when crashing caribou numbers were making headlines, former Environment Minister Michael Miltenberger boasted that hunting game from the side of the road would become a thing of the past.

Hunting corridors along roads were to be established so that taking caribou would not be as "convenient as whistling up these roads all over the place with your big four-wheelers, and off-load your Ski-Doos, zoom away and get your quota."

His remarks came after the Bathurst caribou herd migrated across the Ingraham Trail that winter, leading to an immediate and prolonged shooting frenzy.

When Miltenberger laid down a number of hunting restrictions to protect caribou in February, the hunting corridor scheme was conspicuously absent. He backed away from the idea after aboriginal groups protested. Common sense gave way to politics.

Something else missing in the Wildlife Act is a law against "jacklighting," common in most other jurisdictions.

Right now, there is nothing stopping hunters from rigging big spotlights on the front of their boats at night and mowing down unsuspecting moose on the shore.

Going after electronic moose callers is fine, but the territorial government hasn't gone far enough.

If they're serious about conservation and fair play, they must stop kowtowing to political interests and plug the loopholes.

Formal education still the key to success

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

We find it difficult to understand why so many fail to grasp the importance of formal education in Nunavut.

Once again, people were up in arms when the Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy released its latest findings.

In short, the report stated we aren't graduating enough students from high school and, of the ones who do make it, less than five per cent complete any form of post-secondary study.

Nobody disputes the importance of cultural relevancy in education, especially in Nunavut.

Yes, our educational system has to be adjusted to acknowledge Inuit culture, and credit must be given for Inuit Qaujiniajatuqangit.

Traditional land, hunting, sewing and artistry skills remain of paramount importance in the Arctic.

That being said, they cannot be acknowledged to the point where a student's formal education suffers.

It would be easy for the Nunavut government to develop an academic system that would give so much credit for traditional knowledge that our percentage of Grade 12 graduates would skyrocket.

But that increase in the number of graduates would not end these studies, it would simply change them.

Instead of not enough grads, the studies would indicate our grads are ill-prepared to acquire the skills in demand in today's workforce.

In this very edition, you will read that more than half the Kivalliq applicants for a heavy-equipment-operator course could not meet the minimum Grade 10 standard.

As much as program facilitators may have wanted to, do you believe they could take traditional knowledge into account in allowing someone to take control of such powerful machinery?

Of course not. Formal education is needed to master the skills to operate the machinery properly.

Remember, we're talking heavy equipment here. We won't go down the path of the formal education needed for 1,000 other careers.

There are some areas traditional knowledge blends quite nicely with formal education.

The midwifery program being developed at Nunavut Arctic College is a prime example of the two being combined to produce, what we're sure will prove itself to be, a superior program.

But such examples are too limited to take Nunavut to where it has to be for our territory to decrease its dependency on Ottawa.

To make an analogy: ask a former star college athlete who couldn't make it to the professional ranks if his school did him any favours by propping up his marks with bogus course credits.

We don't need any illusions or delusions involved with the ongoing creation of Nunavut's educational system.

Too many people have bought into the illusion of unsubstantiated promises here for the past seven years.

We remain a territory where a select few form the power base and continue to benefit financially, while the general populace treads the waters of poverty.

The key to narrowing the gap between the upper and lower class rests in the hands of education.

And, as with any key that leads to powerful places, you have to forge your own.

Nobody's going to hand you one!

How many will be hurt?

Editorial Comment
Dez Loreen
Inuvik Drum

An accident last weekend left two youth in stitches and one in a hospital bed in Edmonton.

Their pain was completely avoidable.

After attending a party at Airport Lake, the young people jumped into a truck for the drive back into town.

The party was held at one of two gravel pits near the lake. There, the young party-goers lit a bonfire to provide heat and light for their night-time revelry.

On the way back from the party, the truck lost traction and flipped off the road into the bush. Two of the three passengers were tossed from the wreck, while the driver was dumped into the back seat.

After seeing the truck and hearing eyewitness reports, it seems fortunate that the youth were not killed. The front of the cab is totally crushed.

I talked to both of the guys who had to drag their friends out of the ditch after the crash. They were also driving back into town.

It doesn't seem fair to put your friends through the pain of seeing you that vulnerable, laying in the dirt unconscious.

I have never seen any of my friends in that position and I pray I never will.

I almost feel obliged to describe the three people in the vehicle as "victims." But, the only victims were the friends and parents, who had to stand in the sterile hospital room crying.

Now, a week after the fact, one of the youth is still in hospital in Edmonton. From what I've heard, he has feeling is his legs, which seemed unlikely from early doctor reports here in town.

Coming out of this incident, I wonder why the pit where the party was held has not been fenced off from the public, like the other one in the same quarry has been.

Personally, I think both areas should be off limits to the public, to discourage the late night party visits.

The remote location is nearly 10 kilometres from town and is really only accessible by vehicle.

This causes problems with the groups of people who do not designate a sober driver.

Drinking outside in cold weather is not something that is desired, but has become common practice. Parents won't let their kids drink in their home, so the youth seek other venues.

Deputy fire Chief Julie Miller said it best to me last week. If the youth are so charged up to drink, this town is surrounded by brush and thick bush. There is no need to drive to any location far from town.

Only a year after an accident that left one teen a paraplegic following a party, we have to ask ourselves how many more children will be in wheelchairs before this is stopped.

Groups in town are working to bring the wrecked truck into the high school to fully illustrate the impacts of drinking and driving.

Redeeming parts of humanity

Editorial Comment
Roxanna Thompson
Deh Cho Drum

Some of the stories I most enjoy being able to report about in the paper are the ones in which community members do positive things.

People often complain that all they ever see in the news these days, whether on television, radio or in newspapers, is doom and gloom. Levels of violence are up, the environment is being destroyed, innocent people are being shot when they least expect it. It's enough to make you want to crawl back under the covers in your bed and not come out.

That's why it's such a pleasure to see regular people go out of their way to do things that will help others.

A number of these types of stories popped up in the Deh Cho during September and October. Most of the stories were related to cancer.

While cancer is a devastating disease it's often such trials or times of trouble that can bring people together.

On Sept. 17, a number of communities in the Deh Cho held Terry Fox runs to raise money for cancer research. Not everyone can be as effective as Terry Fox who ran 5,373 km or 3,339 miles in 143 days but every little bit helps.

The money raised in the communities will join the approximately $400 million that has been raised worldwide to date during Terry Fox Runs.

Money to combat cancer was also raised in a different way in Fort Providence in late September.

Deh Gah school teacher Sherri Thomson and Const. J.M. Suave shaved their hair off to raise money for CIBC's second annual Run for Our Lives event that collects money for breast cancer research, support, services and equipment in the Northwest Territories.

With the help of senior high students Murina Sabourin, Destiny Thom, Audrey Landry and Shawna McLeod, $850 was raised.

While short hair was being shed in Fort Providence, long hair was saved this month in Fort Simpson.

Laurent Isiah had his distinctive 16-inch ponytail lopped off and opted for a half-inch buzz cut. Isiah was excited to discover he could donate his hair to help those who have lost theirs during treatments for cancer. Isiah's ponytail will be sent down to Calgary where it will be made into a wig for a cancer patient.

While donating hair for wigs has been done before and is nothing new, it's not every day that the donor is a 12-year-old boy in junior high.

A number of conclusions can be drawn from these examples.

First, in a territory where cancer was the leading cause of death from 2000 to 2002, according to the Department of Health and Social Services, all of these good deeds show that people care about what happens to their fellow community members.

Secondly, some youth are also willing to lend a hand to help others, even people they don't know and might never meet. In a society where the state of today's youth is often bemoaned, it's nice to know that some things are still going right.

Lastly, individuals can make a big difference when they feel strongly about a cause. That is something to remember when things seem bleak.


In last Friday's Yellowknifer, Rambo Dryneck was misidentified ("Visually impaired students to have chance at sports," Oct. 27). Also, division final results for the Junior Spike It Grade 7 boys contained wrong information. Ecole St. Joseph defeated William McDonald White 15-10 in their final game. Additionally, an error appeared in Wednesday's Yellowknifer ("Couple not ready to stop cycling just yet," Nov. 1). Norm and Edith Mair rode their bikes from Vancouver to Victoria, B.C. Also, the photo should have been credited to them. Yellowknifer apologizes for any embarrassment or confusion caused by the error.