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Old is new again

Jack Danylchuk
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 01/01) - As we enter the new millennium - some argue that we've been there for a year - we're checking the rear view mirror to see if the past holds any clues to the future.

Thirty years ago, the Northwest Territories was just emerging from its centennial year. The final editions of News of the North for 1970 were full of bonfires and torch light parades.

In the first edition of News of the North in January 1971, Northerners were looking forward to a frenzy of mining, oil and gas exploration in the Mackenzie Delta and the Great Slave geologic province.

No mention of diamonds, but the paper's Mining and Business Notes buzzed with oil and gas exploration in the Arctic Islands, around Fort Providence and Wrigley.

"Oil and gas exploration moved into high gear during 1970 and will reach even higher levels this year," the writer enthused and reported on finds at Drake Point and Atkinson Point east of Tuktoyaktuk.

The paper predicted "a pipeline along the Mackenzie within the next three to five years now appears to be a certainty."

A status report from Western Electronics and Engineering Ltd. said the Mackenzie Valley toll road from Fort Simpson to Inuvik ( commercial vehicles at four cents per ton per mile) was open to Wrigley.

Attitudes, as reflected in the use of language, have changed significantly since 1971. News of the North reported that "Civilian Indians and Eskimos" were to be trained as aircraft mechanic helpers.

On their way to Canadian Forces Base Camp Borden were Richard Dick, Allen Stein, Harry Debastian, Richard Pangborn and William Aleekuk, all from Inuvik; Aklavik residents Rufus Irish and Richard Tardiff; Allan Gibbons of Coral Harbour, Billy Emahok of Tuktoyaktuk, and Richard Koter of Igloolik. Where are they now?

While today we debate the merit of federal gun laws, a generation ago the shooting club in Fort Smith "was pleased to feature the addition of seven very capable young women to its roster of club members.

"The accomplishments of Gloria Villebrun, Joan Evans, Pat Burnstad, Rose Bakker, Evelyn Karain, Gwen Button and Arlene Gascoyne are not to be taken lightly," the paper reported.

News of the North turned over its news columns to Lyle Trimble, territorial councillor for the Lower Mackenzie.

Trimble stated bluntly that the council had no right to involve itself in land claims other "to urge upon the federal government the urgent need to do something."

There was an item from Jean Chretien.

The minister for Indian Affairs and Northern Development in Pierre Trudeau's first government warned that territorial administration's spending habits were eating up money that might have been used to improve the lives of residents in municipalities like Yellowknife.