Wednesday, May 03, 2000
Last Wednesday's feature story on cocaine addiction illustrates clearly that we have a growing problem with the deadly drug in our city.
First, there is the increasing number of people, especially teenagers, becoming addicted. Then there are the dealers.
People like 40-year-old Paul, who admits he spent most of his years high on cocaine, not only know the havoc this addiction can wreak on one's health, he is also living proof of the consequences. Imprisoned three times for drug-related offenses, the former user and dealer is on day parole and living at the Salvation Army.
Clean for five years now, Paul admits he wouldn't have made the progress he has without the support he has been receiving through the organization's life-recovery program.
While the problem may seem at overwhelming at times, the good news is more people like Paul are coming forward.
There are people finding the courage to kick the habit, and, despite what some may think, help is out there.
Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous and programs administered by the Tree of Peace are good places to start.
The other place is in the home.
One of the main reasons kids turn to drugs is because they're not getting enough attention at home.
The Salvation Army's Karen Hoeft, who sees addicts as young as 21 seeking help, believes parents have got to start getting involved in forming their kids' future.
"People are going to have to stop and say 'Why do our kids trust drug traffickers more than me?'" Hoeft says.
The easiest way to get rid of cocaine dealers is to discourage the customers.
The support programs are there. However, the problem is bigger than that. Families are going to have to do their bit in the war on drugs.
The Hammon family recently had their Drygeese Lake camp robbed of their tent and all their camping gear.
The lake was a refuge for the family for years; a place where they felt safe from the problems of urban life.
Robbing someone's camp in the old days was a serious offence that would have been met with swift, harsh Northern justice.
There remain some unwritten rules regarding the sanctity of a bush camp these thieves have violated and hopefully justice will soon be served.
The family has requested the articles be returned with no questions asked. But even if the equipment is returned, their trust will be lost forever.
Arguably, the most disturbing part of Toronto university professor Ian Martin's talk at the language of instruction workshop in Rankin Inlet was the lack of words such as co-operation and equality.
Martin has been hired by the Nunavut Government to research the language of instruction issue and submit a report.
We won't deny Martin's desire to help, nor his enthusiasm for his task.
However, after listening to him speak last Thursday night, we can't help but wonder how much listening a man will do who seems to believes he has all the answers.
If education were a house, those at the workshop wanted to talk about ensuring it had a solid foundation, but Martin and the majority of the other educators were already finishing the den and rec room.
Kivalliq parents want to know their children are receiving a quality education, no matter what the language of instruction.
Martin didn't endear himself to the small gathering by using words such as tokenism when referring to Inuktitut's present use in the school system.
Many of our Inuit teachers have worked too long and hard to have their efforts viewed as token.
Local DEA members are also aware of a rising voice in the community feeling intimidated into supporting the move to Inuktitut as the principal language of instruction in classrooms, often against their better judgement.
Martin further fuelled that by saying educators are interested in pushing as far as possible for people's support for an increase in the teaching of Inuktitut in our schools.
Many parents are still at the point where they want to see our schools are safe, with qualified, enthusiastic teachers and an acceptable code of behaviour in place.
There is certainly room to improve the level of Inuktitut in our classrooms, but not at the cost of creating an Inuktitut versus english environment.
Planners must work hard to instill a level of co-operation between advocates of both languages and implement a system of education which uses the best of both languages.
Hopefully, when Martin starts to conduct his research, he will do as much listening as speaking.
Our territory's children -- all our children -- deserve the best education we can give them.
As we increase Inuktitut's prominence in our classrooms, we have to take it slow, maximize what we have to work with and never lose sight of the fact our children's best interests are our top priority.
If we rush in unprepared, not only will education suffer, but the door will open for fanaticism.
Language policing has no room for equality, tolerance or priorities.
Attributes which mirror our community should also mirror our educational system.
Walk-a-thons, swim-a-thons, donation campaigns, fund-raising fasts -- there are so many ways to raise money for worthy causes.
Their aim is to raise that much needed commodity that makes charity and relief programs work: cash.
Participants are often motivated to participate because they understand there is a need and know it's one way they can do their part. The recent ThinkFast at St. Patrick high school went beyond the more familiar efforts to fight hunger in developing countries.
Not only did the students fast for more than a day, but they spent time learning about the issues that create poverty and need in the first place. With that kind of education under the belts, the students have become better citizens of the world, with knowledge that will help them understand issues of need at home and abroad.