Editorial page

Friday, May 05, 2000

Parking permits

Government legislates that parking spaces are required for people with disabilities.

Then it turns to a charity, that relies upon donated funds and money it can raise through various efforts, to make sure the people those spots are for can use them.

Somehow, running a system deemed necessary by lawmakers based upon the goodwill of donors doesn't quite make sense.

That the NWT Council for Disabled Persons has been able to do it without government assistance for so long is commendable.

Issuing parking permits should be the responsibility of government, specifically the territorial department of motor vehicles. It should fund the program, and pay the council for disabled persons to continue their work.

Coming home

The community of Ndilo should be proud of the recent opening of its newly renovated school.

The Ndilo Community school began in 1998, and offered schooling from kindergarten to Grade 3. Now, with the expansion, students will be able to attend the community school until Grade 6.

Being able to go to school in your own neighbourhood as opposed to being bused to the city brings with it many benefits.

First, it's a plus for children who are educated in their own cultural environment.

The parents and the community as a whole also benefit by being able to participate more closely in their children's education.

When education becomes a community affair, everybody benefits.

Art from trash

If some kids at Ecole St. Joseph can create sculptures from garbage, just imagine what a gang of engineers could do with the stuff at the dump.

An all-season bridge at Providence perhaps?

The school organized the project to create awareness of the merits of recycling among students.

Recycling in the North is spotty at best. It is not as financially viable here as it is in the south, vast Northern spaces make the need for recycling less apparent and people haven't pushed as hard for it as they have in the south.

However, by educating kids about the possibilities of re-using what others call garbage means that the next generation may take it more seriously. And not a moment too soon.

Good scouts

The Yellowknife Scouts have found out there is indeed strength in numbers.

To increase programs and services the 7th Yellowknife Scouts amalgamated with the 1st Yellowknife troop.

The strength of the larger group means the troops will be able to take part in more activities with other groups throughout the North and the world.

Scouting is a natural program for Northern communities and we wish our Yellowknife Scouts happy trails with the merger.

The plot thickens
Editorial Comment
Daniel MacIsaac
Inuvik Drum

Inuvik's community greenhouse is really springing into life. For those of us who are not involved in its day-to- day planning it's really amazing to see how much progress it has made every time we drop in.

The project appears to represent a real (pardon the pun) grassroots effort on behalf of local gardening enthusiasts together with local contractors and people like the folks at Inuvik Works training and employment centre.

The greenhouse also appears to be one of those projects that has attracted a lot of volunteers who put in a lot of effort.

While the first full growing season is just now getting under way, the greenhouse society has already begun reaping the rewards of its efforts.

The place looks fantastic and represents an imaginative, "green" way of recycling the old Grollier Hall arena, which would have likely been scrapped otherwise. The greenhouse has also already become a drop-in attraction for visitors to Inuvik, and interest will only increase as summer arrives and the place begins blooming.

This isn't just for tourists -- locals must also take advantage of this opportunity. The society is progressive in its planning, offering both plots that can be rented at affordable rates and plots set aside for local groups. The schools should really make sure the kids get out there and get their hands dirty while they learn a thing or two about horticulture -- and no doubt they will.

So, congratulations to all those involved and good luck this season.

Out of line

Premier Stephen Kakfwi's recent public criticism of at least three members of the legislature, including Boot Lake MLA Floyd Roland, was both inaccurate and inappropriate. By describing former ministers Roland, Charles Dent and Michael Miltenberger as "self-declared leaders of the opposition" who "had better start showing leadership -- not nitpicking and criticizing everything we do," Kakfwi is only showing himself to be a premier who feels insecure.

Doubtless, Kakfwi's comments follow the rift created in his bid for the premiership and the subsequent surprise ousting of the three MLAs from cabinet. His calls for consensus now ring hollow because of the cabinet shift.

Of course, the territory does maintain a theoretically consensus-style of government, and ordinary MLAs not in cabinet have the responsibility of working with the premier for the good of the people. But well-researched and well-directed criticism also serves that purpose, and ordinary MLAs are also charged with the task of pointing out errors and offering alternative solutions.

No doubt all three MLAs named by Kakfwi harbour their own political ambitions, but they shouldn't be accused of disloyalty or undermining the system if they're working within the confines of their positions.

Alliance procedes with caution
Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

The resolution for Fort Simpson community leaders to work together for the sake of attracting Mackenzie Valley pipeline benefits in Fort Simpson is a promising development in itself. For the parties to set aside their differences and agree to press on with something of this magnitude exemplifies leadership -- which is why each one was elected.

That being said, the alliance is delicate. Chief Rita Cli has alluded to difficulties with a tri-partite council in Fort Simpson in the past. This coalition involves yet another player, the Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce. While all sides will likely proceed with caution, it's crucial each group is up-front, flexible and willing to listen because much is at stake with a project that could bring an enormous economic boost to the area.

Let's hope this initiative has some staying power.


Some country and western music poured through Thomas Simpson school gym last Tuesday, but it was Tom Jackson's message prior to the musical performance that made the Dreamcatchers Tour stand out from a typical concert.

Jackson spoke of community empowerment, a term that's bandied about quite often these days. Understandably, some people are unsure what exactly community empowerment means, and others have varying definitions. Jackson made it sound rather elementary -- it's a matter of recognizing what's wrong in our community and then doing something about it.

Fort Simpson isn't by any means the most troubled community in the NWT, but it possesses its fair share of problems. Hopefully, Jackson's words prove inspirational and spur individuals to begin reaching out to make change. Even if it's a matter of choosing to seek counselling, that's a step in the right direction. Change, in this case, is a gradual process, not one that occurs overnight.

In a world where motivational speakers are growing exponentially in number and wealth, it was comforting to hear someone who didn't proclaim to have the philosophical "magic bullet" to cure all our ills.

As much as it's human nature to want the quick and easy answers to our problems, there usually aren't any. Jackson's approach is rational and straightforward. Ultimately, he told the crowd, we as individuals are responsible to take control of our own lives and make our own decisions to help ourselves and others. Nobody else can do it for us. It's a very basic notion, yet it's right on the mark.

It was also refreshing to see each of the singers take close to an hour after the show to accommodate the adoring fans. They signed scores of autographs and had their pictures taken with everybody who stood by excitedly with a camera in hand.

Obviously, the performers wouldn't be able to oblige all the fans in a larger setting, like a 20,000 seat arena. But in a place where a few hundred people had gathered to hear their music and Tom Jackson's message, it was great to see the celebrities emerge after the show, shake hands and smile until the last of their admirers filed out the door. That really meant something.