Editorial page

Monday, August 19, 2002
Money and booze make a toxic cocktail

For those who do it, the risk of smuggling alcohol into restricted communities is well worth the reward.

Trouble is, these bootleggers are leeches who feed on others' weaknesses.

And they are destroying our communities.

In Rae, a teen was stabbed to death at a drinking party. Alcohol is also suspected to be involved in the murder of a popular young man in Ndilo.

Recently, Lutsel K'e chief Archie Catholique's frustration about the devastation caused by alcohol and drugs in his community spilled over onto the pages of News/North. Lutsel K'e is a restricted community, but police and band efforts can't keep it out.

Last week, police and band officials in Fort Liard expressed similar concerns on our pages and in the Deh Cho Drum.

In today's newspaper, three bootlegging charges are reported in Tuktoyaktuk. Police seized $5,600 worth of alcohol. Others face drug charges in connection with the investigation.

In Liard, and likely everywhere else the problem exists, people are afraid to come forward. They fear retaliation because there's big money to be made.

One step toward ending the bootlegging plague is for people to come to grips with the problems alcohol and drugs are causing.

If there's no demand, there will be no supply.

A more realistic step is to change the way we deal with people convicted of bootlegging.

Sure, they can be fined hundreds, even thousands, of dollars but that's just a cost of doing business.

It's time to separate the sellers from their market: banish bootleggers from their home communities.

Courts are now banishing other troublemakers from their home towns: a Lutsel K'e man was banished for a year for harassing and threatening a woman. Some communities have already started doing it with people convicted of alcohol offences.

Let's send all bootleggers packing, to live away from friends and family, where they have to deal with the pressures of life on their own. We can counsel them, train them, help them get on their feet and in doing so break the cycle of dependence on alcohol.

Banishment may sound archaic, but it's worth a try.

Breaking out of the pink ghetto

Katherine Fry, via the Women's Television Network, is doing all she can to steer a group of young Iqaluit women in the right direction. Her efforts -- a two-week television-production workshop -- clearly showed camp participants the myriad of choices that exist for them.

This is extremely important for the age group who participated, young women between the ages of 11 and 16. This is a time in their lives when they are faced with a bounty of pressures and pathways. It's a time when young people must make choices that guide their lives for decades to come.

Statistics show us it's the early teen years when young people begin to use tobacco, alcohol and experiment with drugs. It's also the time when many people become sexually active -- witness the high number of teenage pregnancies in the territory.

Both young men and young women are susceptible to these pressures, but statistics clearly show women are less aware of other options available to them. We need only to look at Nunavut's pink ghetto -- the nickname for the area of jobs women typically hold -- to understand that women are confined to certain areas of the workforce.

Specifically, women currently make up a whopping 69 per cent of the government of Nunavut's workforce, but hold just 33 per cent of the senior management positions. The roles women play are in the less senior, more supportive in nature -- roles that have been given to women to fill since joining the wage economy.

Similarly, of the 19 MLAs elected to represent the territory, just two are women. This is not reflective of the population whatsoever.

Furthermore, with these minor roles come minor salaries. While the government has yet to collect statistical data to clearly indicate the poverty levels women experience, we know women inside and outside Nunavut suffer from economic dependence and financial distress.

While the situation is indeed bleak, when a workshop like Fry's comes along, doors are thrown wide open and women are exposed to new and exciting life choices. They learn that as well as being mothers, secretaries or income-support recipients, they can become camera operators, film editors and video directors. They learn they have choices to make. That translates into self-confidence and strength. And in the years to come, that will create a better Nunavut.

Take a look at the big picture

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

An acquaintance of mine, fairly renowned in the world of balancing budgets, once remarked to me, "The one thing you can count on when you manage a budget is that one year you're riding high on the hog's back and the next you're coming out its rear end."

A bit crude in its delivery, but an effective truism nonetheless. It is also a message the hamlet of Rankin Inlet may want to pay attention to at this particular time.

We support the hamlet's decision to use $32,000 of its $285,000 operational surplus to purchase a good vessel for the local search and rescue committee.

However, we can also well imagine the list of organizations lined up for a piece of the surplus pie is a lengthy one. Hopefully, before shelling out the remaining surplus on other funding proposals, council will pause long enough to look at the big picture.

The tough funding times of the past few years are far from over. The hamlet would be well advised to discuss earmarking a portion of its surplus to be invested toward the proverbial rainy day.

Even with the volatility of the money markets during the past 18 months, a number of conservative, and solid, investment opportunities still exist. Professionally managed, a modest investment now could provide the hamlet with a financial security blanket to be carefully put aside for tougher days ahead.

And should hamlet council continue to manage its resources wisely, additional investments could lead to enough revenue to tackle some of the badly needed infrastructure projects in the community on its own.

Siding with experience

While many were disappointed by the announcement of the artificial ice being delayed for yet another year in Rankin, the hamlet made the right decision in delaying its arrival until it can get the arena up to acceptable standards.

That being said, the hamlet should also have taken the time to research the project more efficiently once it had the first $150,000 from the Nunavut government in its bank account.

Had council done that, the necessary work could have been completed in time for the upcoming season.

An argument could also be made that this is a prime example of the Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti procurement policy not always making sense.

We fully support each and every project being granted to local companies with the expertise to complete the job. But when it comes to a project like the installation of artificial ice, it would have made more sense -- and been more cost efficient in the long run -- to have had a Southern company with decades of experience handle the procedure from A to Z.

From borough to beachhead

Editorial Comment
Terry Halifax
Inuvik Drum

It was quite an eye-opener speaking with Jacob Adams and Russell Newmark about how the North Slope Inupiat struggled for home-rule and now, 30 years later, have become one of the richest areas per capita on the planet.

Prosperity didn't happen overnight and it didn't come through pipeline ownership, or even sub-surface resource rights. It came from the age-old tax laws that every government relies on.

The tax dollars allowed the Inupiat to build a strong infrastructure that has since flourished into a billion-dollar baby called the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.

Now, the Inupiat have the best of the best teaching in their schools, and working in their state-of-the-art health centres.

Every community boasts an indoor pool and every student has a computer on their desk. They have Inupiat graduates returning home from Harvard, MIT and Cal Tech.

The wealth of the North Slope was born from a lucrative tax base, but the prosperity and pride of the people came from self-determination, an entrepreneurial spirit and good leadership, beginning with the borough's first mayor, Eben Hopson.

Hopson fought the oil companies through court to gain his people's home-rule and solid tax base and his submissions to the Berger Inquiry changed the course of history in the NWT.

Speaking to the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in Calgary in 1978, Hopson hoped the efforts of the Inupiat would serve as the benchmark for all other Inuit communities.

"We regard the North Slope Borough to be the beachhead for strong regional local government all along North America's Arctic Coast. We look to Canada and Greenland to improve upon our model."

Our leaders here owe a great debt of thanks to Mr. Hopson for laying the groundwork he and his team set forth with self-determination and building a reluctant, but solid relationship with producers.

The parallels between here and there are astounding and it is with the type of forward-thinking people like Hopson that have built a legacy that will secure the future for the Inupiat into the next 30 years and many more after that.

The leaders here can repay that debt to Hopson and the Inupiat by building on his dream and bolstering the beachhead for the next regional government.

Housing compromise

It appears the housing corporation has softened their stance on where the new elder's six-plex will be built and by the time this paper hits the street, council will have already decided.

The compromise seems like a good one, as it barely touches the campground and it would be a good place to build if Inuvik only needed six senior's homes.

The plan all along has been to expand on this development and what's propose offers zero room for expansion and would be ludicrous for the town to approve it.

As it sits now we have seniors housing scattered willy-nilly all throughout town and this new plan offers very little foresight.

No place like home

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

Fascinating. That's about the only way to describe Nancy Jarrell-Hilderman's account of the landslide near her cabin at Cli Lake.

Living in mountainous regions does come with a risk attached. Jarrell-Hilderman acknowledged that. She said her husband Garth scouted the location for the cabin carefully, with the possibility of a landslide in mind.

Most places in the world have inherent hazards. Everyone who chooses to live in the Caribbean or the eastern seaboard of the United States is subject to hurricanes. Move inland to the American mid-west and the threat is primarily from tornados.

Floods strike many locales around the globe on a regular basis. Over the past week, scores of people have been killed in flooding in Europe. Even Winnipeg was threatened by the Red River flood, which wiped out several smaller communities in Manitoba and North Dakota in 1997. We've all seen how devastating forest fires can be in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the northwestern U.S. over the past few summers.

Settle into the Philippines or Central America and keep active volcanoes in mind.

Major fault lines run all the way from Mexico through North America's west coast right into Alaska. There have been predictions of a catastrophic earthquake striking Los Angeles, Vancouver or Anchorage, Alaska, for many years. Some have even warned that Vancouver could become separated from the mainland and cast into the ocean.

San Francisco felt the brunt of nature's fury in 1989. That earthquake was a magnitude 6.7 on the Richter scale (they can be much more serious), and yet it caused 63 deaths and an estimated $5.9 billion in property damage. By comparison, 3,000 people perished in the larger 1906 San Francisco earthquake (magnitude 8.25) and the resulting fire.

So, in the bigger picture, natural disasters are hard to avoid.

If one factors human-caused mishaps and malevolence into the equation, things really get messy. From Chernobyl to the Sydney tar ponds, crime-ridden areas, wars and terrorist bombings, the list goes on and on. Just making the news this week: an enormous cloud of smog, known as the Asian brown cloud, is wafting over much of the Middle East and parts of Asia. The

three-kilometre thick band of ash, acids and aerosols is expected to cause millions of deaths due to respiratory complications.

Welcome to the neighbourhood.

While the NWT isn't impervious to disasters, natural or human-caused, we should be grateful that we generally are not in the direct line of fire of nature's wrath. A cold winter's day of -40 C doesn't seem so bad after all.