Editorial page

Monday, July 7, 2003
Politics of consensus

How did most residents of the Northwest Territories first hear of their premier's newest proposal to split resource dollars with Ottawa?

The Globe & Mail, that's how.

The revenue plan, which splits equal amounts between the First Nations, the territorial government and the feds is part of Kakfwi's lobby campaign with provincial premiers for support in the devolution negotiations with the federal government.

Most territorial MLAs knew the details. They heard it in committee, so the resource revenue proposal came as no surprise. But what of the other 42,000 residents of the Northwest Territories?

Consensus governance implies open government, not the hugging-to-the-chest cabinet secrecy Canadians witness in Ottawa 's parliament with its dog-eat-dog party politics.

Being open means giving the details first to the people who matter most - the voters of the territories - not the provincial premiers or a Toronto newspaper reporter.

This is not the first time Kakfwi has played to the national audience. It's a useful tactic. But it looks like grandstanding from a politician campaigning for re-election in a system that's supposed to be above cheap politicking.

Consensus governance is under attack in the territories from people who want to replace it with party politics. The premier's political gamesmanship gives them more ammunition.

Going bald - on purpose

Cheers to the ladies of Iqaluit's Royal Purple for shaving their heads for cancer and raising well over $12,000 for the cause.

You could tell by the looks on their faces that it wasn't an easy thing to do.

"Hair is such a big thing for women but it will grow back," said Alison Coman one of the members who shaved her head.

It's true watch T.V. and the commercials will tell you just how important hair is to women. It's got to be shiny, frizz-free, and have just the right highlights.

The good thing is it will grow back and for a little while, the six women who shaved their heads or got brush cuts won't have to worry about their hair blowing around in the wind or being out of place.

Iqaluit's Royal Purple has some brave ladies who will stand up and support a good cause. They should be an inspiration to us all. You don't have to go out and shave your head - just make a donation.

Taking a standfor health

A test program being organized by the Northern Stores in Arviat and Baker Lake is a simple example of how businesses in Nunavut can contribute to healthier living.

The stores are trying to give children the incentives they need to start eating low fat, low sugar and high fibre foods.

By buying a healthy snack instead of chips or chocolate bars, kids will earn points for their schools. The points will be converted to cash and the cash will then be used to buy something in the store.

It's a reward program with the potential of a big prize at the end but the real reward will be better health. Schools which will benefit from the program are supportive. They say there's a need to promote better eating habits.

Monthly updates on the number of points collected will keep everyone motivated.

Let's hope it will be a success that can spread to other communities around Nunavut.

Best of both worlds

The Deh Cho proved capable of combining traditional values to the democratic process as they elected a new grand chief.

By allowing the elders to say who they believe would best lead the way, Deh Cho First Nations leaders showed respect for tradition and the elders.

When delegates to the assembly voted, they overwhelmingly chose Herb Norwegian.

By allowing delegates to vote, DCFN showed respect for the democratic process.

The fusion of both worlds came close to a clash in this instance, but the Deh Cho may have stumbled upon a new way of doing things in the North.

Combining traditional ways with newer methods has created a system that takes the best of both worlds: elders' wisdom and the people's voice.

City of champions

Editorial Comment
Chris Puglia
Kivalliq News

Once again the Kivalliq is showing its prowess in the sporting arena.

This time the hero turning international heads isn't personified in a hometown hockey legend, however.

The role models are instead, six regional youth. Through determination, dedication and hard work, they will make up over half of team Nunavut competing at the Western Canada Summer Games in Manitoba in August.

The six badminton players aren't mentors for Kivalliq youth because their walls are lined with trophies, or they expect to leave Manitoba weighed to the ground by medals.

These youth, aged 15-18, are great examples of what it means to play with heart and in the spirit of fun and love for the game.

It's great to be able to see sport handled in such a fashion.

Too much these days, especially down south, youth are instilled with a win at all costs attitude.

They are placed in sports at a young age to be the best, not for the love of the game, or for the joy and character building of competition.

Too often have we seen coaches and parents rob youth of the life lessons and fun that can be derived from playing team sports. Instead they strip away the fun and try to create a sporting "soldier." This will ultimately turn most kids away from sports.

That is why it is uplifting to see five local youth working so hard. Not so they can go and win, but so they can compete and have fun.

Kivalliq youth, Nunavut youth and youth from across the nation should take a page from these players' playbook.

There is more to athletics than winning and being the best.

There is also the camaraderie, physical and mental development, strengthening of character and the love and joy of the games.

Speaking as a minor softball and basketball coach, I know that if you work on those things first, as well as skill and technical development you already have a winning team, regardless to what the scoreboard says.

No one ever beats a team or a player who comes off the court, the field or the ice with a smile on their face.

So the next time you see Tapaarjuk Friesen, Andrea McLarty, Kelli McLarty, Wayne Kusugak, Adam Tanuyak or Michael Putulik -- wish them luck. They are going to be representing the pride of Nunavut.

I hope to hear of more local youth following in their footsteps.

- Note: Darrell Greer is on holidays and will return when the birds fly south.

We are Canadians

Editorial Comment
Terry Halifax
Inuvik Drum

The Canada Day Parade has just ended and as I type here I can hear the Vimy Ridge Pipe Band playing across the field behind me and I'm stuck inside, wrestling with thoughts of what defines us as Canadians.

Our government has gone to great expense mailing out flags and shoveling money in a feverish attempt to establish a national identity without much result.

Even with the millions spent on a cultural cognizance that sets us apart from the Americans, any efforts made by Sheila Copps and Heritage Canada have been over-shadowed by one 30 second beer commercial.

Ever since Molson first aired their "I Am Canadian" ad campaign, the rant was indelibly etched on our minds that we really DO have an identity, but did we really need a beer company to point that out to us?

We don't wrap ourselves in the flag, in blind faith patriotism the way our American cousins do; we are independent thinkers and workers who carry our national pride in our hip pocket.

We are Stompin' Tom, Hockey Night in Canada, Shania Twain, Bob and Doug Mackenzie, Don Cherry, but we are also so much more. This vast expanse of land is rich with cultural diversity from ocean to ocean to ocean and we celebrate that every day in a quiet and unassuming way, that our southern friends will never understand.

Identity is not something that you get from waving a flag, singing a song or fighting a war, but in our actions; it lies in the simple pride of purpose that built national rail and highways as well as the simple small town challenges that we meet shoulder to shoulder each day.

These achievements both small and large, have spun us a thread of national unity that cannot be unravelled by politics or embellished by tax dollars.

We don't need spin doctors or ad execs to tell us who we are, we just are -- Canadians.

Hot spot heroes

I think we all owe a debt of deep gratitude to the men and women who fought the flames back from our town last week.

I flew over the burn and saw how close it came and it would have been much, much worse if not for the efforts of the pilots in the air and the crews on the ground. From the war room to the EFFs on the end of the hose, these people do an outstanding job in some of the worst conditions imaginable.

I know first-hand, because I spent a summer fighting some of the biggest blazes that ever swept through B.C. From out of the chopper and into the choking smoke, blowing ash, stifling heat, and sometimes frantic chaos, fighting fires is easily the scariest thing I've ever done.

Fighting fire is war during peacetime and while most firefighters brush it off as work, it's much more than that. The ability to keep your head while the whole world fall apart around you is a rare trait, but in very good firefighter, you'll find that trait.

I saw that look last Friday for the first time since 1985, when I was talking with Mike Gravel at fire headquarters at Shell Lake. Behind the cool exterior, I could see that fear, but he carried it like a soldier. Juggling eight fires at once, he was making life and death decisions, but he was in control enough to even be courteous to a bothersome media type.

We all owe them a big thanks for a job well done.

Deh Cho revolution

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

A clash of cultures is how Chief Roy Fabian described a refusal by Deh Cho delegates to outright accept the elders' recommendation for grand chief.

It is an apt description.

A majority of delegates insisted on an election despite the elders' endorsement of Herb Norwegian.

To see the elders rebuffed, even in a respectful manner, is a rare event in a Deh Cho political forum (elder abuse in the communities is another topic for another day).

When Norwegian was elected on the first ballot, it confirmed that the elders' recommendation was wise. Yet it also spoke to the principle of the matter -- many Deh Cho delegates want the right to their own say. One person, one vote doesn't reflect Dene custom, but in today's changing society it seems to be what the majority wants.

So Herb Norwegian has been confirmed twice as grand chief, once by the elders and once by the delegates. There should be no dispute over his entitlement to the position.

Fortunately, Norwegian has shown indications of possessing a quality that outgoing grand chief held in spades -- the ability to build consensus. Nadli, as he did on his final day in office, repeatedly came to the leadership table and helped the jousting delegates find a solution or reach a compromise. There are, as one might expect, a number of quarrelsome issues among the 10 Deh Cho communities (13 organizations).

Nadli leaves his post with his integrity intact. He stood steadfastly by his principles over the past six years and accomplished much for the Deh Cho in a slow-moving political process.

He'd surely be welcomed with open arms should decide to re-enter the political arena in the coming years.

Pause for thought

While in conversation with Joachim Bonnetrouge in Kakisa last week, he suggested that the common band election format should be revamped. He pointed out that too many valuable candidates for chief are relegated to political oblivion when they fail to get elected. A prime example occurred in Fort Simpson a few weeks ago when seven contenders for chief were unsuccessful in their bids.

Bonnetrouge's proposed alternative is one that was used in his home community of Fort Providence in the 1980s. Every candidate ran under one broad category. The person with the most votes became chief. The other top vote-getters were named to council.

Granted if there are numerous candidates some of them will still not get elected. But the point is that the ones who are truly the people's choice will be representing the people.

Apparently that election format was shunned when the issue of a salary for the chief arose. Maybe it's time to take another look at that system and make some minor adjustments to it if necessary. It sounds better than what exists now.


The article "No smoking in September?" in the June 20 Yellowknifer stated RCMP would be responsible for upholding the smoking bylaw, when it is bylaw officers who are the primary enforcers. Yellowknifer apologizes for any confusion.