Editorial page

Friday, August 1, 2003
The stink is yours

Bad behaviour by a few will ultimately have consequences for the majority.

In short: we all have to pay for someone being a jerk. In the case of the honey bag disposal site at Fiddler's Lake sewage lagoon, it could mean restricted access as of Sept. 1 because of the inappropriate crap some jerks have thrown into it.

In the photo we ran in our July 25 story about abuse of the honey bag site, you can see a propane tank, assorted household garbage and an oil products tub.

Yeah, like those items are suitable for a pit for human waste. The idea of the pit is to let natural causes -- bacteria, mostly -- break down the wastes.

Instead we have noxious products literally thrown into the mix. Because the consequences of that could mean seepage of toxic waste into Great Slave Lake, what was a free and open-door facility could now be closed most of the week.

And well it should. We would go further: fees for use. Indeed, perhaps there should be a fee automatically demanded of all the houseboat people and any other households known to need the honey bag site.

If that raises the anti-taxpaying blood temperature a bit, consider this: you as a group soiled your nest, so to speak.

Where the buffalo roam

One of the great sights for newcomers and long-time Northerners driving the Mackenzie Highway is are seeing bison grazing by the road.

A few animals transplanted from Wood Buffalo National Park in 1963 have left an abundant and successful legacy for generations to enjoy on the otherwise monotonous drive up Highway 3.

Which leaves us wondering why GNWT transportation and wildlife officials seem so determined to drive them back into the bush and out of public view.

To be sure, the 500 to 1,000 kilogram wood bison are a potential hazard to motorists, particularly during the fall months when days are shorter and the animals harder to see. While no fatalities have been recorded yet, the risk is real.

If vegetation is a factor in drawing the bison closer to the highway, how are they going to control that over 300 kilometres of asphalt?

Scare tactics like blasting them with air horns and plastic bullets are another option -- already abandoned in Newfoundland where over 500 moose strikes are reported every year.

While we do not profess to have expertise in wildlife management, one thing we know is that most people enjoy seeing animals along the highway.

It's part of the experience of visiting and living in the North.

Increased public awareness of the dangers and more highway patrols to prevent speeding seem to be the most logical solution.

Weather blues

Editorial Comment
Chris Puglia
Kivalliq News

There is nothing like the weather to turn most folks into chronic complainers.

People who could end up face down in the street after being hit by a car and not complain a bit will at lengths lament their hatred of any given day's weather.

I will be the first to admit, when it comes to the weather I constantly complain. It's never good enough for me.

Mother Nature could ask me every morning what I would like the weather to be and I'd still find a reason to complain

Too hot, too cold, too windy, not enough breeze, it's truly an amazing phenomenon our lack of acceptance for the weather.

This thought crossed my mind last week as I watched the Rankin temperature rise to nearly 30 C.

Every person I spoke to expressed their discomfort.

To make matters worse, before our sudden sub-tropical heat wave we had barely reached 20 C.

So not only is it hot, we had no time to get acclimatized.

One day it was a little warm and the next it was extremely hot.

The heat turned the town into a sweat-soaked, hazy bowl of dust.

The only good thing was the wind.

Yes, the often criticized Rankin wind was the only factor that kept the temperature outside bearable.

Unfortunately, most buildings in Rankin have tin exteriors and employees had the chance to feel what it's like to be a Sunday pot roast.

But, seriously, I think we should all take the time to enjoy the heat.

I will be the first to stop complaining.

Look on the bright side, in a few months the snow will fly, the wind will howl and this plus 30 will turn into 45 below.

So break out the iced tea, and the bug spray and enjoy the little summer we have.

If that doesn't work everyone can join me in my freezer - where I plan to live until the temperature drops.

Honestly, this is the Arctic it shouldn't be this hot.

Spirit of the North

Editorial Comment
Terry Halifax
Inuvik Drum

I enjoyed meeting some of the spunky residents of Norman Wells who were unceremoniously yanked from their homes last Thursday.

When I first met them at the airport on Thursday, the mood was anything but what I expected. Kids were running about and carrying on like they were on their way to Disneyland and parents shrugged the whole thing off like a shopping trip.

I never expected that attitude from them Thursday and I certainly didn't expect to see more of the same when I visited them Tuesday.

While many looked like they'd been rode a bit hard, their spirits were high and they really didn't see what all the fuss was about.

They were grateful for all the help they'd been given from the town and the emergency services here, but they were otherwise unfazed by most of what transpired over the past week.

I guess that speaks volumes to the spirit of Northerners and it's part of what makes this such an interesting place to live.

I've always contended that Northerners are more than a little bit tougher than the rest, but it sure feels good to see that toughness exhibited from time to time.

We can hunker down and wait out a blizzard, hunt and fish in clouds of flies and do it all without excessive moaning and groaning.

If you'd taken 70 people out of suburban Toronto and planted them at the FOL, you wouldn't even hear the jets take off for all the whining that was coming from the barracks.

The folks from the Wells won't require a royal visit from the Rolling Stones to restore their spirit; it's just another day in the North to them.

Good luck and God speed.

Ramble on

Not an hour ago I read of the passing of Bill Laferte, the Metis Rambler.

I spent a few months in the Deh Cho filling in for Derek "The King" Neary at the Deh Cho Drum and got to know Bill quite well.

It was usually about this time of day when Bill would drop by the newspaper office with that week's column and I'd put the coffee on -- despite the looming deadline.

We'd sit and smoke on the porch and discuss that week's column, history, bloodlines, the news of the day or his most recent trip to Batoche.

While our talks often pushed me past my deadline and I sometimes wished him gone, in looking back, the hours we spent were precious few.

I'd occasionally run into Bill in Yellowknife or Hay River and always drop what I was doing to go for coffee and catch up on his latest.

He was a good man who spoke his mind and was always quick to smile and share a laugh and had a charm you just couldn't turn away from.

I might have missed a few deadlines, but I'll always treasure those truant hours spent shooting the breeze with the Rambler.

Farewell, Rambler

Editorial Comment
Derek Neary
Deh Cho Drum

Why do bad things happen to good people?

It's a question that comes to mind with the recent loss of Bill Laferte to cancer. Bill put up a fierce fight against the devastating disease, which attacked his liver, one of his lungs and his brain.

He was the stoical type. He rarely complained about his condition. If caught on a bad day, he might admit that he wasn't feeling all that well but his ailment never consumed him, not his mind anyway. When he had the opportunity to be social, it was as if his ailing body were a mere afterthought. He loved to hold conversations. As one of his relatives pointed out, it could take him a half hour or longer to walk a single block because he'd stop and chat with so many people.

He was fiercely proud of his Metis and French ancestry. It is why he changed the spelling of his surname to Laferte, as opposed to the more common Lafferty. It comes from the French, derived from "the strong."

Bill wrote often of Metis and Northern history in his Metis Rambler column. Some people said he was mistaken or exaggerated at times, and made denigrating references to the Dene. Be that as it may, I remember Bill telling me more than once that, in essence, we're all human beings. We all share the need for food, water, air and the need to love and be loved.

He also told me that when he served in the military, he was a Canadian soldier first, a Metis second. When you are in a war zone, the enemy doesn't stop to ask whether you're white, Indian or Metis. They just shoot, he said.

I'll remember Bill Laferte as a kind and knowledgeable man. He taught me a great deal.

In his own words, as he closed every newspaper column, "May God bless you and keep you from harm."

Living for today

Al Harris hasn't been afflicted with a life-threatening ailment, but a life-altering one, to be sure.

His seizures have prevented him from driving, a privilege so many of us take for granted.

Did he deserve to be robbed of such an everyday convenience? No. Is he bitter about it? No.

That speaks volumes about his character. Harris is one of the most affable and sensible people you're likely to meet.

It would be understandable if he had a chip on his shoulder. If put in his shoes, some people may rail on about the Draconian law preventing them from driving for one year after a seizure.

But Harris possesses a much more enlightened outlook. He's grateful to be alive. He celebrates today because, driver's licence or not, there may not be a tomorrow.


In the Snap Lake story which appeared in the July 30 edition of the Yellowknifer, two figures were transposed. De Beers plans to create 500 jobs at the mine with a cost of construction of $489 million and the name Molyneaux should have appeared as opposed to Molyneux. We apologize for these errors.