Go back


Northern News Services Online

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A pointless requirement

Long-time Yellowknifer Cindy Rowe was shocked after being told she would need a letter from her husband in order to obtain a new driver's licence.

While it would be a stretch to accuse the department of regressing into a den of chauvinism, it's apparent that communication of the changed rules is lacking at its motor vehicle licensing branch.

Not only that, but it's doubtful that the proof of residency requirements actually do what they're supposed to in the first place.

The rules were tightened last year in response to heightened concerns over security brought on by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

New NWT driver's licences feature UV inks and bar codes to make them more difficult to forge.

It was a necessary move as the old driver's licences were becoming obsolete.

Because the new driver's licences require more time to process, it's no longer possible to obtain one immediately.

Instead, a temporary one is issued until a new one is ready to be mailed.

Rowe's troubles began when she was unable to prove her place of residency to the issuing clerk as all her bills with her address on them are in her husband's name.

The clerk could have told her she could bring in a bank statement or a letter from her boss. Instead the unfortunate business about getting a letter from her husband was uttered which deeply offended Rowe, as it should.

Clearly, the department should have communicated its proof of residency requirement more clearly to licensing staff.

Then again, the requirement itself is fatally flawed. How does a letter purportedly from a spouse, a roommate, a parent or landlord actually prove that the person actually lives there?

Is the clerk going to background check every signed letter they receive? Judging from what Rowe told Yellowknifer, it appears not. They just want to see the letter.

Or what about what today's letter writer Lois Grabke contends? That mortgage or utility bills offer no proof of residency but just a mailing address. She points out that many people like herself don't use their residences as a mailing address but use a post office box instead.

And what about Woodyard residents or those living in smaller communities where numbered addresses are few and far between?

The lack of street numbers in the communities is the territorial government's main excuse to why they cannot implement a 9-1-1 emergency phone service.

If they can't provide that, how are they going to verify people's home addresses for their driver's licences?

The proof of residency requirement merely pays lip service to the demand for a global security system. It's something the Northwest Territories is simply not capable of assuring to other jurisdictions beyond our borders.

If the territorial government is so concerned about mailing out driver's licences to the wrong address or people, it's probably better to just insist that people come to motor vehicles licensing offices with ID in hand to pick it up themselves.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Great job by top cop, but more has to be done
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

There can be no denying the respect shown to RCMP Sgt. Gavin Nash as he leaves Rankin Inlet for his new position in the nation's capital this coming Friday, Aug. 3.

And, make no mistake about it, the respect is well-deserved.

Now in my ninth year with the Kivalliq News, Nash is the best detachment head I've seen at casting aside the us-versus-them mentality which all too often rules Northern police stations.

That's not a slight towards any of Nash's predecessors in Rankin. It is simply an observation, accurate to my way of thinking.

Nash changed the RCMP in Rankin from a detachment of cops to a group of officers involved with community policing. Not only was that a refreshing change of pace, it was also a taste of how effective that approach to policing can be in building relationships in a community.

It's nice to see people in your community stopping to chat with the officers, waving when they pass, and simply feeling comfortable around those who wear a badge and carry a gun for a living.

There are many communities in this great nation of ours that have never had that type of a relationship with their police force.

Nash also gets full marks for the relationship he established between the detachment and hamlet council during his stay in Rankin.

There are few who would argue against the notion that it was one of the better working relationships of the past decade between the two. Also on the plus side of his tenure are the gains made against drinking and driving, illegal drugs and alcohol in Rankin during the past 22 months.

In short, Nash is leaving big boots to fill for the next detachment head and we can only hope that person is up to the task.

However, challenges do remain in Rankin. Youth vandalism and theft are out of control in the hamlet and more has to be done to alleviate that problem. And, while an argument can be made that's as much a community problem as a policing issue, the police must set the tone in sending out the message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated in our community.

Granted, that it's not always easy with how the courts deal with young offenders, but that's a topic for another day.

Outside of vandalism, the biggest complaints heard on a consistent basis stem from issues that, arguably, reflect as much on hamlet council and bylaw enforcement as they do our police force.

There are still many people fed up with ATVs racing around at 3 a.m., a number of which are controlled by very young drivers.

Others still grumble about the double standard they see when some can seemingly drive around forever without a helmet -- or with their machine obviously overloaded with passengers -- and never receive the attention others get from the authorities.

These may seem like minor issues, but they always are until someone gets seriously hurt or worse. Maybe Nash will come up with a few ideas to tackle those issues in his new position as a policy analyst with the National Aboriginal Police Service.

Based on what we've seen in the past, we wouldn't bet against him.

Community opportunity
Editorial Comment
Roxanna Thompson
Deh Cho Drum
Thursday, July 26, 2007
When it comes to sports and recreation activities not all areas are judged equally.

There's something about skateboarding that lends itself to a less than wholesome image in comparison to sports such as soccer or basketball. This could be the result of skateboarders on television being portrayed as belonging to a counter-culture group or maybe just because of the clothes they wear.

In Fort Simpson the image likely has something to do with the fact that youth who skateboard don't have a dedicated area where they can practise and share moves.

Skateboarders can generally be found being creative with concrete fixtures around the community.

The skateboarders have to be given points for creativity. Some of the elements that they construct on the tennis court from time to time require ingenuity.

Their determination also needs to be credited. In the past some have stated they they're often criticized or yelled at for practising in public places or rolling into the streets, yet they keep on doing it.

One impractical but decisive solution to the matter would be to ban skateboards. The truth is, however, that not all youth are interested in basketball and soccer and some basketball and soccer players also skateboard.

The community needs to address the needs of this segment of youth because ignoring them isn't practical.

In the midst of this hour of need has come a seemingly miraculous proposal.

An initiative called Let Them Be Kids is willing to support Fort Simpson with the goal of building a skatepark.

If the community is truly behind the project, then the organization is willing to do whatever it takes to help make it happen.

This could be the very opportunity that the village has been waiting for. Talks about skateboard parks are nothing new.

The idea has been brought up a number of times and no progress ever seems to be made. The most recent push was attached to the Community Capacity Building Fund. The tri-council decided that some of the money would be put towards a skatepark along with a new pool and a concrete pad in the arena.

The responsibility for the plans was left in part to a group of community members and while things seemed to progress for a while, the matter faded away.

While many people, namely the skateboarders and their supporters, seem to want a park there appears to be a need for a driving force. As MACA recreation co-ordinator Shane Thompson put it, this offer could be the push to get the project over the hump.

It's not every day that an organization comes forward that wants to split the cost of the project while also offering all the technical support needed. But even with the support the project requires the community to come together to work towards a goal.

Village residents need to decide if they're committed towards a skateboard park. If they are, the community needs to say so. Now is not the time for hesitation.

The opportunity to build a skateboard park is there and the community should grab it or risk regretting it later.

Community policing
Editorial Comment
Dez Loreen
Inuvik News
Thursday, July 26, 2007

So there I was, driving down the main road, riding shotgun in a police cruiser. I don't have a gun and I wasn't on the job. I'm just a reporter looking for the facts and maybe some peace of mind.

I was sitting beside one of our fine constables as he explained how bicycles are stolen, then recovered, but not always returned to the owner.

While this matter is important to the well being of our community, I couldn't help but wonder what is being done about crack?

We may have shut down a few pot dealers and bootleggers with recent arrests, but where are the crack busts?

I know it seems like clockwork that I get on the case of crackheads in town, but they still exist. We need to eliminate this plague from our streets.

Even the constable I talked to said he wishes the police could focus on some of the more insidious activity in town, not just ensuring helmet safety.

The RCMP recently ended a long undercover investigation into street dealers. So far they have released information on three of the people involved in illegal-doings in town.

On a side note, Project Gargoyle was probably one of the coolest names for an operation in the Territories since Gunship. I want to be in the room next time they name one of those ops. "Name it Operation Falcon's Egg," I'd say.

Anyway, sure there are more people out there doing illegal activities. Hell, I just saw a guy jay-walk. Wait, is that illegal here?

I see a few police officers on the street at night and during bar close, but where are the walking patrols? People are openly doing drugs and drinking on the streets because they know that the worst they will get is a slap on the wrist.

We're a growing community with real problems. Every day another large batch of people come into the community and we don't know what their agenda is.

I don't even have kids and I'm reluctant to do so. I mean, one day I'll have a family here in Inuvik and I want them to grow up right.

That means I want to educate them about the goods and bads in the world.

I was sitting in the office last week when my co-worker came in with some mini-pamphlets warning kids about crystal meth.

I remember growing up here and reading my first marijuana pamphlet.

Needless to say, I found some of the facts to be a bit misleading.

Now we have generations of people who abuse drugs and alcohol. I blame it on the education system and how we bring this to our kids.

If they watch movies about how funny pot is and how cool smoking up is, how can we chastise it?

Just be real, tell the truth and help the police stop crack dealers in town. Just make them leave.

I have a message for the person who wants to be the new Staff Sergeant of the Inuvik RCMP: Get crack out of our town and you'll be bigger than Conway Twitty in these parts.