Friday, March 17, 2006
Remember the talk about implementing an NWT Species at Risk Act?
If you don't, we're not surprised because despite lots of jawing about it five years ago, it has been falling off the radar ever since.
We're one of the only Canadian jurisdictions without such an act.
The territorial government agreed to draft a species at risk act after signing a accord with the provinces and the federal government in 1996, but nothing has happened yet.
Meanwhile, protection of our notable wildlife rarities like the whooping crane and the Peary caribou has been left to the federal government.
We're also awaiting a re-draft of the NWT Wildlife Act and the Liquor Act. These things have been bouncing around the halls of the legislative assembly for years, but might as well be thrown into the scrap heap at the rate they're going.
Our Waste Reduction and Recovery Act finally limped into effect last year after years of hand-wringing and inaction, while the rest of the country put us to shame with their garbage recycling efforts.
The question begs: Why does it seem like our government is always dead last at getting anything done?
Two weeks ago, the legislative assembly decided to shut down its session because the government didn't have any new bills for our earnest crop of MLAs to work on.
Go do some "constituency work" they were told, which probably suits some of them just fine. After all, where else can you get a job starting at $82,500 that only requires you to actually be somewhere four times a year for a few weeks at a time.
House leader Charles Dent says this session was every bit as busy as any other in recent years, but it's not just the quantity of bills that matters, it's the quality.
Is it wrong to show leadership once in a while? Why is it we're always rubber-stamping laws made in Ottawa years after the fact? Surely, there is somewhere our territory can make a stand on its own. How about a law making snowmobile helmet use mandatory for starters?
Or let's think even bigger - a mandatory rule guaranteeing the equal representation of women in the legislative assembly.
Our government is always crying about how difficult it is to get noticed south of 60. Certainly, a law ensuring half the legislative assembly are women would get all the attention we need.
Of course, with our male-dominated consensus government, it would be hard to break the status quo.
It's so much easier to cash your paycheque and go with the flow.
If you roll the dice often enough, sooner or later you will roll snake eyes.
There are no set rules, other than a belief in what is commonly referred to as the law of averages.
Nobody can tell you if you'll need to roll the dice once, or five thousand times before snake eyes hit the table.
But hit the table they will. It's inevitable.
The same can be said for the vast majority of sports, in that sooner or later somebody will suffer an injury.
It's simply the nature of the game.
And, the more extreme the sport, the greater the risk of serious injury.
So, it stands to reason when you put a group of adults on a slippery ice surface, outfit them with sharp steel blades to travel at often astonishing speeds, let them carry a hefty aluminum or wooden club to propel a six ounce piece of vulcanized rubber at speeds over 120 km-h, sooner or later, somebody will get hurt.
The question of this particular game is how high are you willing to set the stakes?
The unsanctioned or "outlaw" hockey tournament is making a comeback in the Kivalliq for a number of reasons.
In some communities it's the unwillingness to register players.
In others it's the total lack of certified officials and, for some, it's simply a matter of taking the easy road so we can all be home by 5 p.m.
There has all ready been one such tournament this year and two more are planned for this month.
In the first one, a player was taken to the health centre after having his bell rung and exhibiting concussion-like symptoms.
Close call, but no damage done.
So, why should the average person in a Kivalliq community with absolutely no interest in hockey care?
These are all big boys and girls.
If they want to play in a tournament knowing they have no insurance, why should the rest of us be concerned?
The answer to that can be summed up in one word - lawyers!
Those in the know in Rankin Inlet have been dealing with an older player this season who suffered an injury playing in a weekly pick-up game.
The player has tried to get compensation from the hamlet on a number of occasions, claiming bad ice was the reason for his fall.
So what if that was a player with a high-paying job and facing a loss of substantial income due to a serious injury?
We have a word for that, too - lawsuit.
People need to be aware when their hamlet agrees to host a non-sanctioned sporting event, they're putting community money at risk.
One serious accident and your municipality could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That's the cold hard truth of the matter.
The money would have to come from somewhere, and it wouldn't come from liability insurance if the hamlet knowingly hosted an unsanctioned event.
The money would come from funds meant to operate, maintain and improve your community.
As any gambler can tell you, snake eyes often land hard when they hit!
What it takes to get the country to take notice:
It wasn't an increase in the Northern living allowance or a push to get an all-weather road from Wrigley to Tuk, but a private member's bill to change Canada's motto "from sea to sea," to "from sea to sea to sea."
You gotta love our newest Western Arctic Member of Parliament for concocting this gem. What pride will be derived from changing the motto once it is a done deal? We can rest our heads easier at night knowing that when school children are taught that Canada actually has three seas instead of just two, we here in the far North will not be forgotten.
Until I heard about this, I didn't even know that was Canada's motto. But after some crafty internet research (all the rage these days) I discovered that it is indeed the motto. Translated from the Latin "A Mari usque ad Mare," which according to Heritage Canada was derived from the biblical scripture, "He shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river until the ends of the earth" (Psalm 72.8), it was first carved into the mace of the legislative assembly of the new Province of Saskatchewan in 1906.
But wait a minute. Wasn't this the kind of thinking that messed things up for the local inhabitants already living here? You know, before a bunch of guys holding Bibles and royal crests showed up and thought they owned the joint. "It says so in here," I can just imagine one of these fresh-off-the-boat explorers insisting, pointing to Psalm 72.8 in his portable scriptures, packed neatly inside his trunk amongst other on-the-land survival gear such as a silver service set and sherry glasses.
But keeping this image in mind, maybe our new MP is trying to cut off any future court wranglings over who exactly has dominion over North of 60.
"Your honour, there's nothing on the books about Canada having dominion up to a third sea in this here motto..."
Pssst! Don't tell Herb Norwegian!
Sure, Canada has three seas (oceans). It's too bad you can't get to the third one without paying $1,200 in airfare or gasoline for three days worth of solid driving from Yellowknife.
I have a suggestion. How about a private member's bill to outlaw useless private member's bills? That's something I can support, especially the next time I'm standing in line at the grocery store waiting to pay $15 for a gallon of milk that was flown in on a jet plane, instead of driven up on what is, with each passing day, becoming the mirage of a future all-weather road through the territory.
But if we have to endure getting a new motto for this country, here is my suggestion: "You can take our gas, but you'll never take our freedom."
Is self-respect something that you can teach?
Last week the Mackenzie Regional Youth Conference was all about self-respect. The opening and closing keynote speakers talked about it and the sessions were meant to tie into the theme.
But perhaps the first question that has to be answered is: What is self-respect?
It seems to be a nebulous concept and putting a finger on a definition is difficult.
Even after four days in a conference about self-respect, the participants struggled with a definition. Many said they learned about self-respect, but when pressed for details, few could elaborate on exactly what that information involved.
Bits of the answer came out from different people.
One teen said that "you have to respect people and listen."
Personal interactions are one area where self-respect reveals itself. You have to respect yourself in order to have respect others.
The conference was filled with chances for the youth to practise socializing.
The organizers were well aware that the chance to meet new people and visit with friends was one of the draws for the event.
On the first day, Barry Church explained to the students that there was a designated message board in the hall, so if they wanted to leave a message for the cute person they saw in a certain session, they would have that chance.
The announcement was met with giggles and nervous laughter, but that was probably to cover the fact that the minds of teens are so often fixed on members of the opposite sex.
If you have self-respect, you are able to see value in others and also see value in yourself, so you can decide if a relationship is healthy or not.
Another part of the self-respect answer came from a girl who explained that she learned "How to play guitar, respect, and not to smoke."
Respect for the body is certainly part of self-respect.
Caring enough about yourself not to do anything that is overtly harmful is a sign of having respect for yourself.
A final part of the self-respect puzzle could be seen in every session.
In rooms scattered in different buildings and in areas outside, teens were trying new things. Youth were singing, playing the guitar, dancing, skiing, painting and doing a variety of other things in front of their peers.
This required the students to feel comfortable enough with themselves to not care if they were the best at something, but to just give it a try.
Whether they realized it or not, participants at the conference spent a great deal of time exercising the elements of self-respect.
Self-respect is something that is best learned from an early age, but its importance should not be forgotten. People are often reminded to do unto others as they would do unto themselves. Maybe we should also be reminded to respect ourselves so that we can respect others and they can return that favour. If we did, the world would run more smoothly.
In the March 15 edition of Yellowknifer, the cutline for the photo entitled "Quick Fingers Tickle Jazz Fans," (Page 18), Japanese jazz guitarist Tom Kanematsu performed at Aurora World's facility at Prelude Lake on March 10. Incorrect information appeared in the caption.
Also, residents are allowed three bags of garbage at curbside per week without extra charge. Incorrect information appeared in the article, "A clean alternative," (page 13) of the same paper. Yellowknifer apologizes for any confusion or embarrassment caused by these errors.
Last week's story about Rebecca Baxter's dog sledding adventure referred to Michael Baxter as her brother, and champion sled dog racer. Rebecca's brother is Jason Baxter and Michael is her father. The Inuvik Drum regrets any confusion this may have caused.