Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

A road to Fort McMurray on wish list

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (June 20/05) - Fort Smith's Sonny MacDonald, chair of the NWT Arts Council, says some of the new funding under the Northern Strategy could be used to help Northern artists.

In Fort Smith, some of the money could be used to help pay for a new pool or to help build a road from Fort Smith to Fort McMurray, he says.

Chief Karen Felker of West Point First Nation in Hay River says Northern Strategy funding could help her band with economic development. One of the band's latest initiatives is a convenience store.

For example, she notes, about $100,000 could buy a water truck or loader which could be contracted out to earn money for the band and provide employment to members. "More opportunity is needed for small First Nations like ours."

Vicki Kimble, a retiree in Enterprise, says, "There's quite a few kids here. They need something to keep them occupied after school and on the weekends."

Chief Robert Sayine of Deninu Ku'e First Nation in Fort Resolution says economic development is the main priority. "My community needs jobs."

Part of the $40 million could help with economic development, such as the band's efforts to restart a sawmill operation, he says.

Dave Dragon, a Fort Smith retiree, believes the main issues for the community are upgrading Highway 5 and building a new winter road south through Wood Buffalo National Park.

Tourists come once

"The highway should be paved or chipsealed. The tourists come here once, but they don't come back. You can't blame them for not coming back."

Richard Simon, a mine worker and former mayor in Fort Resolution, says the community would like to see long-term planning for youth programs and initiatives.

Glen Klassen, a contractor in Enterprise, focuses on recreation and education.

"Smaller communities do need more recreation. A covered skating rink would be good, so kids wouldn't be out there in the cold," he says.

Klassen also thinks primary grades - kindergarten to Grade 3 - should be offered in Enterprise so younger children wouldn't need to be bussed to Hay River.

Angie Lantz, chair of the Lutsel K'e District Education Authority, says she believes the number one priority should be expanding educational opportunities, both at the community school and at on-the-land programs.

"Money has to be poured into the school and money has to be poured into the out-on-the-land programs."

In particular, she would like to see Lutsel K'e Dene school offer an industrial arts program, a science lab and a home economics room, and Grades 11 and 12. "We need to expand the school."

Lantz's second priority would be better housing, which takes into account traditional lifestyles such as space to make dry meat. "It needs to accommodate traditional lifestyles."

Ken Hudson, president of the Fort Smith Metis Council, says he has heard of the Northern Strategy funding, but has not given it much thought.

"When it comes to $40 million, it sounds like a lot, but it really isn't."

Vern Jones, the executive director of the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre in Hay River, says the money could help stop the flow of illegal drugs.

"There's got to be some way to stop the drug traffic from coming into this community. We've got a problem here," said Jones. "I think more policing would be more of a factor."