Editorial page

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Show some respect

A recent afternoon outing for two Yellowknife youth has shown that some dog owners could use a lesson in public decency.

Kimberly Woytuik and her friend Sarah Topilikon decided to visit the spot where Kimberly's grandmother was buried. They were outraged to find a big pile of dog droppings on top of the grave.

What's worse a dog had urinated on some freshly laid flowers.

The two pre-teens also reported dog urine and excrement on top of several other graves.

This shows an obvious lack of respect by dog owners who should be ashamed of themselves.

Walk your dogs, yes, but clean up after them.

It's the decent thing to do, in a cemetery or on a public trail.

Fulfilling the promise of the wired world

Separating hype from reality when it comes to the Internet and virtually everything associated with it is a Herculean challenge for anyone.

One need only look to Yellowknife Smart Communities portal www.looknorth.ca for proof.

It promises a lot: online access to city services, health information, business, cultural and tourism links.

We're not convinced a little skepticism isn't still in order.

After all, just a week ago this newspaper carried a story trumpeting the fact "all of Yellowknife" will soon be able to "see your vacation pictures while you're still lying on the beach in Cancun."

That's thanks to a $142,000 Smart Communities project with NorthwesTel Cable and its community access channel that would also help seniors at Baker Centre get online by linking the Internet to television.

We hope that this convergence of the World Wide Web and television turns out to be more than what's promised so far.

Perhaps it would do Smart Community planners well to read Clifford Stoll's book, Silicon Snake Oil.

Way back in 1995 the Berkeley university professor expressed reservations over the grandiose promises of the new online utopia being made by technophiles.

Yellowknife Smart Communities promises may not be grandiose, but they remain unproven. Online photo albums don't offer many assurances.

We'll just have to wait and see until Sept. 28 when looknorth goes online.

Then we may be able to tell if Industry Canada's $5 million investment has paid off.

The Beck tradition

The headline in last Wednesday's sport section said it all: The Beck bloodlines.

John Beck, son of Richard Beck, nephew of Grant Beck, had won the NMI Mobility Canadian Championship Dog Derby. There were four Becks in the top 10 to finish the race.

So the Beck Dynasty continues, and with the younger Beck winning with his own dog team, the depth is there for many more wins.

There are many world-class mushers on the circuit. Each Beck competes on their own drive and skill and they don't always win.

What they do represent is a large target. For two generations the Becks have set a standard of excellence to meet and hopefully beat.

A smiling face is enough reward

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

A few disturbing trends have emerged in the Kivalliq's minor hockey scene during the past few years.

While we're sympathetic to parents who find it difficult to meet the costs of player equipment and registration, other areas can be addressed at no cost other than one's time.

With the possible exceptions of Rankin Inlet and Arviat (and even they're pleading for more volunteers), it's worrisome how many hamlets have their entire programs resting on the efforts of one or two individuals.

While we have seen positive developments in Chesterfield Inlet -- the situation in Coral Harbour, Whale Cove and Baker Lake shows how quickly a system can erode when one individual carries the entire burden.

Don't get us wrong, we loudly applaud the efforts of these individuals in trying to ensure local kids have the opportunity to play hockey. But, where are all the hockey moms and dads? Why does almost every rec co-ordinator and minor-hockey organizer have to beg and plead for more parents to step up and take some responsibility for the program in their community?

As we've said many times before in this space, youth involved with minor hockey gain far more than just exposure to the game. They learn co-operation, teamwork, self-esteem and a sense of fair play.

Time and time again we hear our region's minor hockey personalities say how much our kids enjoy playing the game. Yet we also see their continued pleas for more volunteers fall on deaf ears.

Pond Inlet lost most of its organized hockey season this year and, if we're not careful, the same could befall an unfortunate community or two in our region.

Too many people in the Kivalliq are content to stand back and watch a handful of volunteers put in enormous hours of their time to keep our hockey programs running. So many expect so much from so few, including the program being delivered for next to nothing.

There can be no denying hockey is a big-time popular event in our region. But there's much more to the game than just showing up at the arena whenever your community hosts a tournament.

It's time for people in our region to step up and start making a contribution to minor hockey.

For those who have played (or still play) hockey, look at it as the opportunity to give something back to a game which has given you so much. For the numerous hockey parents in our region -- look at it as the opportunity to do something for your kids that will only cost you time, but will be appreciated by your children for years to come.

When you talk about quality time, there are precious few activities that reward you more than spending time at the arena with local youth. And if you're looking for remuneration for your efforts -- please accept all those smiling faces looking your way as payment in full.

Civics 101

Editorial Comment
Terry Halifax
Inuvik Drum

Students could have learned a good lesson in democracy at last week's town council meeting.

Five angry townsfolk arrived for the meeting armed with a petition to oppose a zoning bylaw that would allow developers to build a three-storey apartment building across the street from them.

Rather than just complain about the proposed bylaw and the process, the group offered alternatives to the zoning and suggested the bylaw be re-vamped to differentiate between duplexes and apartment buildings.

Council listened to their concerns and, on the strength of the argument, decided against rezoning the neighbourhood -- at least for now.

The mayor and council also considered that perhaps an R-3 zone is needed in Inuvik.

As towns become cities, they often encounter such growing pains and an open mind is needed -- as well as open ears.

We often get cynical about the way governance operates, but last Wednesday's meeting was a pleasant reminder that democracy can work.

Kudos to the townsfolk for voicing their concerns to council and the same to council for listening.

Ministerial support

Good to see a federal minister of any kind make his way to the third coast, but it was a real surprise to see an agriculture minister up here.

We're often over-looked by the big guns in Ottawa, but the visit from Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief gave some reassurance that we're getting some attention out of Ottawa.

The muskox program will certainly benefit from the boost to research and development as well as the improvements to harvesting and meat processing techniques.

The consumer of muskox meat stands to gain from this research too. With this product sold around the world, they can feel confident they'll be buying a consistently tender and uniform.

The Sachs Harbour Hunters and Trappers stand to gain a great deal of knowledge from the program, but the over-all economy will also benefit.

The harvest is a great addition to an economy and in an area where agriculture is so limited, people need to diversify any way they can.

Muskrat jammin'

I'm really looking forward to attending my very first Muskrat Jamboree.

Looking through the list of events, I can see there are some events I've never watched before.

It will be a blast watching and photographing all the usual events like the sack and toboggan races, but I can't wait to see the Muskrat skinning contest.

See you all out there!

Their own deal

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum, Fort Simpson

The Acho Dene Koe still want their own land claim. They're seeking something on the order of what has already been done by the Nisgaa First Nation in British Columbia.

Harry Deneron made a case for the Acho Dene Koe three years ago, but the federal government balked at that time.

Judy Kotchea followed Deneron's lead. At a Deh Cho First Nations leadership meeting last May, she fought for and attained a controversial resolution that contained a clause giving the ADK "sole ownership, authority and jurisdiction over its territory during and after negotiations." Kotchea noted, at that time, that the ADK want land selections for economic development purposes, unlike the rest of the Deh Cho's First Nations. The ADK face a monumental task in trying to convince the federal government to create a separate process. Complicating matters all the more is the ADK's claim to traditional lands in B.C. and the Yukon.

Kotchea has a legitimate point when she argues that her people never agreed to the existing provincial and territorial boundaries created by the federal government. Yet those rather arbitrary lines profoundly affected the Fort Liard band's domain.

She said she's hopeful that the Liberal government will continue to show flexibility as it has with two interim agreements pertaining to the Deh Cho Process.

While her request may be reasonable, the odds are stacked against her. Trans-boundary claims are messy, involving provincial and territorial governments as well as neighbouring First Nations.

It will be an uphill battle, for certain.

What a rush

From talking to Paul Guyot, it's apparent he feels honoured to be part of the Rangers' 60th anniversary patrol to the Magnetic North Pole. He's obviously deserving of the expedition, having been elected by his fellow Fort Simpson Rangers.

As an example of what the excursion party may have to contend with, Guyot mentioned a friend of his who travelled from Churchill, Man., to Arviat. During one stretch, his friend logged 22 kilometres on his odometer going around crevasses and pressure ridges, but according to his global positioning system (GPS), he had only advanced three kilometres towards his destination. That may be an extreme illustration of the zig-zagging the Rangers have in store, but it's an idea of what they may encounter. Godspeed.

Days get longer

This is the weekend when we set our clocks ahead one hour. It's a shame to lose an hour of sleep (or productivity), but the trade-off is sunshine later into the evening. We'll take it.