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Northern News Services Online

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Agreement better than nothing

The Government of the NWT has cut another deal with De Beers, this time regarding rough diamonds from its proposed Gahcho Kue mine.

This agreement is basically the same as the one covering Snap Lake. Both ensure local cutting and polishing houses - if they qualify through De Beers' sales arm, the Diamond Trading Company - will be allowed to purchase up to 10 per cent the mines' production by value.

The deals also say these gems must be economically viable to cut, so the mining firm can't dump all of its cheap stones in the NWT.

The De Beers agreements are moderately better than the ones signed by previous governments covering Ekati and Diavik. These earlier pacts left local cutting houses with few guarantees in terms of quality and quantity.

Requiring Yellowknife cutting and polishing houses to apply for standing with the Diamond Trading Company, however, should have been a deal breaker for the North.

Creating this secondary industry was supposed to be enable the Territories to diversify its economic base and ensure some of the benefits stayed North.

By handing De Beers the power to accept or reject local diamond manufacturers, it's given the global mining giant the tools it needs to bring our industry to its knees should it, for any reason, ever tire of dealing with these firms.

As bad as these blunders at the negotiating table were, they pale in comparison to the pointless document the GNWT signed with Imperial and its project partners regarding the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

Critics and supporters alike all agree on one thing - it's not enforceable. It in no way offers concrete assurances for Northerners that they'll benefit from the $16.2 billion mega project running through their backyard.

The only silver lining here is that this government is about to be replaced with an election little more than a month away. Here's hoping the next group of leaders knows what to do when they're offered a handful of magic beans.

Taking too many hits
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

While the kids from Rankin Inlet deserve full marks for capturing the Kivalliq team swimming championship earlier this month in Baker Lake, it's sad to see how far aquatics have sunk in our region.

It was only a few short years ago when almost every Kivalliq community was represented at the event.

This year, only Rankin and Baker competed for the crown.

With Arviat being forced to close its pool, the number of functional swimming pools in the Kivalliq has been reduced to only two.

And, the pools in Rankin and Baker are barely holding on.

One of the original engineers to install the Rankin pool more than a decade ago has been brought to the hamlet this week to assess the pool, and let the hamlet know how much it would cost to put it back on its feet again.

Baker's pool is in worse condition than Rankin's and Arviat's may have passed the point of no return.

And there's the rub - big bucks!

The cost of a new swimming pool in the Kivalliq would be about $1 million and that's a lot of sand dollars.

But what price do we put on recreational activities for our youth that help keep them in shape mentally and physically, teach them about competitiveness and sportsmanship, help them develop life skills such as co-operation and teamwork, and keep them active and having fun, away from the dark side that comes with having too much idle time on their hands?

That's not even to mention real social interaction, not sitting behind a keyboard alone in a room in their home, school or drop-in centre.

We all know Nunavut has many pressing issues and there's not enough money to meet the demand.

But we're worried about the repeated blows sports and recreation are taking in our region.

Yet, at the same time, our political leaders take every opportunity to talk about youth needing more facilities and activities to occupy their time so we can build healthier communities.

And, we might add, the number of youth in need of positive activities in our region is growing every year.

The situation has become a paradox of the highest order. Everyone realizes our needs in health, housing and education are many.

But, it's time for the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the municipalities themselves to grasp the importance of sports and recreation, and start partnering to greatly increase our infrastructure in those areas.

If not, more and more kids are going to be roaming the streets with nothing to do but ... well, you know the rest.

There's going to be a big splash made one way or another and it's coming to a community near you - soon.

If our governments and Inuit associations don't soon put sport and recreation facilities a lot higher on their priority lists, they had better increase their efforts to provide more mental heath-care and correctional facilities because they're going to need them.

As good as the vast majority of our youth are, if their recreational choices remain this shallow for much longer, a number of them will, inevitably, go off the deep end.

The power of three
Editorial Comment
Roxanna Thompson
Deh Cho Drum
Thursday, August 23, 2007
"One for all, and all for one."

That's the legendary motto of the Three Musketeers, three men who stayed together through thick and thin. It could now be used just as successfully by the communities of Jean Marie River, Nahanni Butte and Trout Lake.

These three communities have come together to sign a joint venture agreement which has launched a numbered company currently being called the Tri-Corporation until a final name can be settled on.

The original goal of the agreement and the corporation was to give the communities the means to bid for contracts relating to the Mackenzie Gas Project. The communities have realized that separately they don't have the means to secure contracts either because they don't have enough manpower or because they lack the capital to purchase or rent the necessary equipment.

The communities have now broadened their plans for the corporation to include joining together the three local stores and possible agreements with catering companies and airlines.

These communities have precisely the right idea.

The simple truth of the matter is that in the smaller communities there simply are not enough resources to tackle large projects. Between them Jean Marie River, Nahanni Butte and Trout Lake have a total population of 264 people according to 2004 statistics. The three are among the smallest communities in the area.

While 264 people is enough to create a mid-sized village by Deh Cho standards it doesn't provide a lot of people to muster together for a potential project.

Coming together to share what they have and benefit as a group is an ideal plan. If enough determination and energy is put into the relationship, the benefits will be reaped on a number of levels.

To begin with, the communities are following one of the principal Dene values - sharing. According to documents prepared by the Dehcho First Nations, the Dene shared in the use of the land and the resources of the land, food in particular. The work needed to maintain a camp was shared along with the responsibility for caring for children and protecting the health and safety of the family.

Through their joint venture agreement, the three communities are following a modernized version of this value.

By joining forces, they are helping to ensure that the work needed to support the communities and, therefore, the families they contain, can be shared by a broader base. Many hands make for light work.

Individual residents will be able to benefit from the joint venture agreement if it brings more jobs to the communities or even lowers grocery prices through a buying group.

The agreement also means that the communities are binding their fates together. What better reason is there to build co-operation between neighbours than having something valuable resting in the balance?

The communities have little to lose and possibly a lot to gain by working in tandem.

Co-operation on this level is something that we need to see more of between communities in the Deh Cho, especially if self-government becomes a reality.

Educators teach more than classes
Editorial Comment
Dez Loreen
Inuvik News
Thursday, August 23, 2007

We all need educators, whether they be in a school or just someone you can learn from.

The most important trait of a successful teacher is the ability to reach out to students in a way that they understand.

I want to take this opportunity to recognize a strong teacher and friend who recently passed on.

I was in my office earlier this week, when I heard that Samuel Hearne teacher Gord Church had passed away, due to a failed liver.

With only weeks to go before school, this will be a tremendous loss for the faculty.

I knew Church, he was always a good listener and would always make an effort to help in any way he could.

It's frustrating that we have to deal with death so close to us, but this is where we pull together as a community and grow stronger.

With the help of loving, dedicated teachers like Church, we can fully move forward as a community.

I'm sure that there will be a rush of new teachers this year, all eager to see what awaits them in September.

I want those new teachers to learn from the legacy left by those educators who have passed on.

On behalf of the younger people who have gone to school and remember the teachings of those men and women, I hope all the teachers and staff at both schools never forget the important lessons being taught in and out of the classroom.

Teachers and staff in our schools carry a heavier burden than most people recognize.

The teachers in the region need to know that they are important and are deserving of our respect.

The truth is that many parents are not equipped, or are scared to teach their children.

Maybe they aren't at home, or they don't have the know-how to encourage their child.

As a community, we rely on the strength of our teachers, young and old to set a good example and to make learning as memorable as possible.

Trust is one of the backbones of any relationship.

Trusting a teacher should be paramount in the process of learning.

Once a student can trust their teacher, it makes it easier to get along and to complete the ultimate objective: graduation.

There are many youth who step out on that ledge, who want to further themselves with the aid of an older person.

If you are that older person, don't do anything to breach that trust.

Remember, education is a two-way street.

The student invests a lot of themselves to believe another adult.

It's a shame that we lose our community members who work hard to ensure the prosperity of the town, but I hope someone else will stand up and ease our loss.

To the students, when that bell rings next week and you're back in class, let your teacher know they're making a difference.

It would probably mean a lot to them.

Without a healthy relationship between the two groups, we might end up with an empty room and a lonely educator, or a room full of unanswered questions.


Wrong information appeared in a photospread in the Aug. 22 edition of Yellowknifer ("Government house").

A painting attributed to A.Y. Jackson is actually a work by Graeme Shaw. Yellowknifer apologizes for any confusion caused by this error.