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NNSL Photo/graphic

Jessy Leahy, left, Brendan Whelly and Jackie Thompson use their thumbs to show their opinion of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

Youth take a stand on pipeline

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Dec 09/05) - They might not be up to date on all current news, but three students from Thomas Simpson school know exactly where they stand on the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

Jessy Leahy and Jackie Thompson are both against the mega-project while Brendan Whelly stands alone in his support. Thanks to attending a youth forum on the topic, they now have lots of information and arguments to support their views.

The three youth were chosen to attend Your Land, Your Future, a conference on the pipeline held in Yellowknife Nov. 28-Dec. 1.

They joined 23 other students representing every area in the NWT, all eager to learn more about the pipeline.

"It will affect you and your family in the future so it's wise to learn as much as you can," said Whelly, a Grade 10 student.

They said what they learned shaped their ideas.

"I thought it should go in, but now that I went to the forum I say no to the pipeline," said Leahy who's in Grade 11.

He is worried about the pipeline's environmental impact and the ecological balances it could upset.

"The food we have on our plate won't be here," he said.

Thompson, a Grade 10 student, went into the forum without an opinion, but now agrees with Leahy.

"I don't want it because it's going to ruin everything like the climate and traditions," she said. "We're going to be the ones affected by it."

The information presented at the conference, particularly by the Mackenzie Gas Project Producers Group, only strengthened Whelly's opinion.

"I thought it should go through and I still think it should go through," he said.

Economic growth is the main benefit he sees coming from the project.

No matter what opinion the students came away with, Mindy Willett, the event organizer, is happy so long as it is an informed decision.

"The overall goal is to get kids to think of all the perspectives," she said.

The students from Fort Simpson all agree they now know enough to talk knowledgeably about the pipeline.

"I almost learned too much," said Whelly.