Editorial page

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Let's be careful out there

Ah, yes -- that time of year is upon us again.

It's the time of year parents have been yearning for since sometime in mid-July. It's the time for the kiddies and more-than-kiddies to get back to the grind -- the school grind, that is.

Yes, throughout Yellowknife hundreds of children and youth are walking to schools, waiting for busses and crossing streets in their return to the schoolroom, eager to be challenged, inspired and informed.

Of course, that eagerness and excitement also means their minds are not quite on little things like traffic.

Which means that we adults who make up the motoring public should have a little more of our minds on traffic -- just to keep the balance.

With so many children on the streets and crossing streets and generally on the move, the chances of a tragic mishap goes up exponentially.

There will soon be literally hundreds of students ranging from five to 19 years in age on the move. For many, connecting with friends and making the migration to the classroom en masse is paramount. For others, the excitement of first day and discovering the wonders of kindergarten and a whole new experience drives out every other thought.

Either way, they may not be quite as focused on traffic and the rules their parents drilled into them.

Nobody wants the school year to start on a tragic note and nobody should have to live with the memory and guilt that a moment's inattention can result in, especially in spots like St. Joseph's, for example, where there are approximately 660 students and no crossing lights.

So give yourself a little extra time this week to get to work, or wherever you're going, and pay just a little closer attention. We've been lucky in Yellowknife thus far-- but this is a case where we make our own luck. So let's keep on being lucky.

Terms of office

Ambition, as much as anything, drives politicians. It takes a good deal of energy and effort to run for political office, and the personal sacrifices can be high.

So it comes as little surprise that city politicians are first out of the gate when political opportunities arise in the newly-configured legislature.

From a voter's perspective, however, ambition must be balanced with commitment. Our city councillors ran for office with the understanding that it is a three-year term. On that basis, we voted for them.

The very least a city councillor should do is resign the seat to run for another one. But even with that, voters have every right to be cynical. The circumstances are less about political idealism than they are about political opportunism.

Nursing a cure

The Nunavut governments commitment to launch a four-year nursing program to train Inuit in the field is a wise move.

All three regions of Nunavut have been facing a severe nursing shortage as of late which is largely due to the lack of interest from the foreign workforce. Nunavut has committed roughly $600,000 over the next four years to fund the program to be run through Nunavut Arctic College.

While it definitely wont bring an immediate cure to the health care crisis, something tells us they wont be disappointed in the long run. This homegrown attitude is something all regions of the Far North could benefit and learn from.

Lowdown priority

As non-government personnel, we must be forgiven if we don't understand why it"s going to take 11 years to pave the Road to Rae.

It's even harder to understand when government highway officials claim the paving has a high priority. Thank God it's not a low priority or we might be looking at the next century before enjoying a civilized drive to Rae. Perhaps the Dogrib Nation, with its $90 million claim pending, should take on the project. Of course, in order to recoup their investment, the Dogribs may well want to use a modest road toll.

Yellowknifers would gladly pay a small sum to avoid the unsafe donkey trail that now exists and government vehicles could be charged a premium, if only as a reminder of its priorities.

Slow down
Editorial Comment
Dane Gibson
Kivalliq News

When the opportunity popped up to experience an Eastern Arctic community, I jumped at it. Kivalliq news editor, Darrell Greer, is off for some much needed rest and relaxation. Northern News Services needed someone to wear the reporter's hat in Rankin Inlet for the next two weeks.

I arrived Aug. 16 and find the hat, or should I say, toque, fits quite nicely. One of my first assignments was to take pictures of the first day of school festivities. As Rankin's finest filed into Leo Ussak elementary last week, memories flooded back to me. Anxiety, excitement, fear and bravery were all emotions, in varying degrees, etched on each child's face.

I forgot that the first day of school was such a big deal.

Through my camera's eye, I could zoom in and catch a glimpse of each child's unique personality. Those arriving for kindergarten were especially revealing. The schedule, in their little world for the last few years, revolved mainly around them. That was changing -- and they knew it.

The children sat in rows on the gym floor waiting for a teacher to call their names and lead them into the belly of the beast. Some sniffled and tried to keep eye contact with their mom and dads, who waved encouragement from the sidelines. Others seemed in a world of their own. They scratched their heads, toyed with their shoelaces, and were utterly unimpressed with the whole ordeal.

At one point, all the children in the first two rows were called except for one lone boy who was probably only four or five years old. He sat by himself in the middle of the gym, back rigid, bravely looking ahead. It was too much for his mother to take. She crawled up next to him and slung a protective arm across his shoulders. No words passed between them, but a lot was said. When his name was called, he shook off his mother's embrace with a cool gesture. As he took his place in line, mom looked upset, her expression a mixture of pride, love and sadness. The boy was stone-faced. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he was going to weather whatever it was bravely.

One of the first things I've noticed about Rankin Inlet is that there's a whole heck of a lot of kids around. I'm quickly realizing the great potential, and responsibility that these young people represent. When they're gathered together in one place, you can see how hungry they are for direction and guidance. What an opportunity for parents and teachers -- indeed the whole community -- to shape a strong, healthy future for each of them.

There's advantages in a hamlet that a city can't provide. The pace is less hectic, which allows community members more time to spend with the children. It's a great opportunity.

Don't forget to use that time to tell your children that they are loved, and that you are proud of them, and that their future is wide open. They will respond, and grow, and strengthen the community for generations to come.

This area strikes me as unforgiving, beautiful and honest all at the same time. I look forward to learning more about the Kivalliq region and the people who live here. One thing I'm pretty sure of is that the young people are going to be one of this region's greatest strengths in the future.