Editorial page

Friday, May 19, 2000

Good show

It was evident from the cars and trucks that jammed the YK Community Arena parking lot that last weekend's Trade Show was a hit.

Inside, it was even more apparent, as throngs of people were shoulder to shoulder as they wandered among the business booths, getting a sample of what Yk businesses have to offer. That the available display space was booked four months in advance is just further evidence of the show's popularity.

To call the event a success seems a bit of an understatement. What is evident, is that local residents enjoy the format, which gives them an opportunity to wander in the comfort of the arena floor, where they meet old friends and catch up on what's happening on the local business front.

Another is planned for the fall, and we're sure it will be just as popular.

Help wanted

Happy Anniversary, Folk on the Rocks.

Yellowknife's premier summer event turns 20 this year, putting it in the same venerable category as the Edmonton Folk Festival and Ontario's legendary Mariposa Festival.

The anniversary also represents 20 years of unflagging community support.

Folk on the Rocks is the sum total of a volunteer board of directors, a volunteer selection committee and about 200 volunteers who take care of everything else. In that sense it is truly a community event. Only the festival director and his assistant are paid. Folk on the Rocks is a showcase of talent, but most of that talent is behind the scenes, making the whole thing happen.

Summer's fast approaching. Now is the time for the volunteer talent to step forward.

Nunasi Corporation is on the right track

We would like to commend Nunasi Corporation for its recent investment in the Yellowknife real estate market by purchasing the 48th St. Plaza.

After 23 years of renting various offices and retail spaces in town, Nunasi's purchase of the plaza appears to be an excellent investment.

Created by the Inuit Taparitsat of Canada in 1978, this birthright development corporation, through its subsidiary companies -- including Northern Transportation Company Limited, Arctic Spirit and Top of the World Travel 2000, employs more than 500 Northerners.

Some may wonder why Nunasi, an economic development company that pays dividends to Inuit land-claim recipients, continues to be headquartered in Yellowknife.

But all you really have to do is look at the success rate of Nunasi's businesses to realize why they chose to stay put.

One of Nunasi's biggest accomplishments here in Yellowknife is the continued success of its clothing store Arctic Spirit.

Bought in 1992, the retail outlet, which has helped put the polar bear logo on the world market, has grown in leaps and bounds to see sales last year of well over $1 million.

Another success comes with Nunasi's two travel agencies, which have now been amalgamated as Top of the World 2000 and employs 24 people.

Of the 14 employees at Nunasi's head office in Yellowknife, nine are Inuit and are direct shareholders.

For them to keep their roots here in our city not only makes good fiscal sense, but is good news for our community. As an employer and as a property owner, it's businesses like this that can help keep our economy alive.

Congratulations for a job well done.

Moving on
Editorial Comment
Daniel MacIsaac
Inuvik Drum

I'm moving on, and want to thank the residents of Inuvik and the Beaufort Delta.

After a year-and-a-half North of 60 and 10 months in Inuvik, I'm leaving -- but not before having learned a lot along the way.

I learned about the North and its evolving identity and continuing struggle to gain control of its own administration and resources and to find its proper place in Canada.

I learned about the Gwich'in, Inuvialuit and other aboriginal people in the territory, their openness and kindness, love of the land and fascinating cultures.

I also learned that the rest of Canada truly does not know much about the North. Although I'd studied Canadian history throughout my schooling, I had never come across material about the people of the Western Arctic, their interests and their concerns.

Happily, however, that is changing. Oil and gas will once again attract attention to the Beaufort Delta and this time, through the Internet and co-ordinated, collaborative efforts at economic development and tourism, the region's people will be in a better position to take control of their own future.

I also learned about the special co-operation among people that makes Inuvik tick. Sure, there are outstanding problems and disagreements, but it is a friendly, tolerant community that has welcomed not only transient southerners, but also new Canadians from far-flung places around the globe.

Of course, I was one of those transient types, who was welcomed here. And I had a lot of help in getting to know the community and its issues and concerns.

Thanks must go to the schools first of all and the co-operation they showed. Inuvik Town Council was also ready to talk about just about any issue in the community. The regional health board, Aurora College, Centennial Library, the ski club and the recreation department were particularly helpful. Members of the local religious communities as well as wildlife officers contributed columns and presented new and interesting ideas through the paper.

There were also other groups as well as a number of individuals in town and around the Delta who were and are great resources in terms of news. Many are involved in multiple organizations and boards and are part of the reason why Inuvik has such a strong spirit of voluntarism.

It's also been reassuring in my time here to see the effort the town and region are making on issues that affect youth.

The expression "youth are our future" is a decidedly over-used expression by both politicians and the public alike. But it is also one that still holds true -- and it's been great to see the emphasis Inuvik places on education; offering imaginative and alternative learning opportunities, kids' sports, involvement on councils and boards and on exchange trips south.

Inuvik appears headed in the right direction, and it will be interesting to keep monitoring developments -- even if it's from a little farther away from now on.

Individuality applies
Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

It's Police Week. Going on a ride-along with Const. Charles Quartey of the Fort Simpson RCMP was an enlightening experience for me.

It also provided me with a better opportunity to get to know Const. Quartey as a person, an individual. Too often we tend to lump people together based on race or religion, and on profession as well. How many lawyer jokes are there? What about professional athletes, particularly football players? More often than not they get the knock as "dumb jocks."

These stereotypes are based on misconceptions, or, sometimes, a single experience -- a lack of exposure.

Before becoming a reporter, my interaction with police officers was rather limited. Yet the one experience that stands out was not a pleasant one. During my first year of university, I was taking a CPR course in Dartmouth, N.S. Not knowing the Dartmouth area very well, I committed a traffic violation, an illegal left-hand turn.

While approaching the intersection early that morning, I had been watching some kids on the corner, which happened to be where a cross-walk was located. I determined they weren't attempting to cross, just hanging out on the corner. I proceeded to make the left-hand turn only to find a parked police cruiser with its lights flashing and the officer standing outside signalling for me to pull over. I did.

He approached my vehicle and asked whether I had seen the "no left-hand turn" sign at the intersection.

"No," I replied in all honesty, and explained that I wasn't from the area and that I had been keeping an eye on the kids near the cross-walk. He asked for my licence and registration. Without a hint of contempt, I handed them to him, expecting to receive a warning. He returned a from his cruiser a few minutes later and not only issued me an $80 ticket, but "congratulated" me for being the first person to receive the ticket since the penalty had been increased by a bylaw that took effect that very day. I was miffed, but knew it wouldn't do me any good to try to make my case, so I didn't.

The next morning I approached the Saint John's Ambulance building from the opposite direction, avoiding the intersection entirely. Just as I was about to turn into the parking lot, I saw the police cruiser sitting in the same spot and the officer was waving somebody else over for the same violation I had committed the day before. It turned out to be a woman who was taking the same CPR class I was. Later that morning, I mentioned to her that the police officer was a jerk for not being lenient. She seemed surprised at my remarks, informing me he had let her off with just a warning!

I suppose I was the victim of a stereotype. I fell into the young, male driver category, the one guilty of the greatest number of traffic violations and a disproportionate degree of reckless driving. The officer didn't grant me any leeway.

Since that day, I have dealt with many police officers, the majority of whom are very admirable people with a difficult job to do. It would be foolish to have allowed a single adverse occasion to have tainted my view. In general, if you show respect, you receive respect.

I'm in the journalism business, an occupation often accused of misrepresenting the facts and exploiting people's misery. I'd rather have people judge me by my own work, not by the misdeeds of others.

Let your voices be heard
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

The unfortunate situation that befell Stephanie and Mary Aulatjut in Arviat shows how much our Northern health-care system needs to be improved.

It almost be a miracle if the Keewatin Regional Department of Health and Social Services's review turns up anything most people in the Kivalliq don't all ready know.

Our nurses are overworked and often find themselves with too much responsibility resting on their shoulders.

Despite the public rhetoric, expense guidelines often surround emergency calls.

Let's face it, it's expensive to medevac people out.

Best be sure it's an emergency situation, or else you'll be facing the supervisor, all too often pervades the thought process of those on the frontlines.

The same can be said for the lines of communication between tired doctors who make it known they're looking forward to a weekend off and the nurses who must make the call on whether to disrupt the doctor's break.

The regional executive director Dr. Keith Best has tried to remedy the problem since coming to the Kivalliq, but gaps in our medical safety net are still one of the issues we face living on the last frontier.

We must wait for Dr. Best to conclude his review before finding out if the nurse on call erred in her assessment of Stephanie.

But, more importantly, whatever the outcome of his review, we must continue to raise our voices and demand the Nunavut Government does everything in its power to increase the level of health care in our region.

Only constant belligerence will result in a system finally being put in place dependable enough to prevent situations like this from happening again.

As citizens, we deserve no less.

Cracking down

Police and addictions workers across the Kivalliq must be shaking their heads in disbelief at the sentence handed down this past week to a Rankin Inlet woman convicted of drug trafficking.

Regardless of the amount of drugs and money found on the woman when she was apprehended, one day in jail and a couple of weeks of community service sends the wrong message.

Unless you live in a cave, everyone has heard the amount of money drug dealers in our communities are making.

Such puny sentences tell our young people crime does indeed pay, as long as you don't carry too much "stuff" on you.

Drugs and alcohol are a huge problem in our region and it's time for our courts to hear the same message we do.

Drugs ruin lives and the only way we're going to slow their availability is for our courts to hand out stiffer sentences to those who bring them into our community.