Monday, April 10, 2006
There's a lot of sense in Hay River's suggestion that the number of votes on the South Slave Divisional Education Council be determined by community population.
It's not a new concept, and is common in southern jurisdictions. In B.C. regional districts, for example, communities that provide the largest share of funding get more votes on money issues.
This practice ensures small communities can't gang up on a larger jurisdiction and get more than their share of services or expenditures.
Education Minister Charles Dent should look at this model and give it a try in the South Slave. The board is dysfunctional and many issues become fights that no-one wins.
No legislation? Consider a one-year pilot project giving Hay River more votes on money matters.
Next May or June, take a new look at how things have gone and whether proportional representation should be extended or cancelled.
It seems Grise Fiord has dropped off the Nunavut map, at least in the eyes of those working at the government building in the community.
Hamlet workers, the hunters and trappers organization (HTO) and territorial government workers say they are in a space that is too small, too old and which poses health risks.
The HTO office was condemned after a fire left the building damaged, but they continue to work there.
So far, their complaints appear to be falling on deaf ears in Iqaluit.
The fire marshal and health inspectors need to go have a look, and see if the complaints are warranted.
The buildings these workers are housed in are trailers that were brought into the community in the 1960s. They were used as the health centre until the 1980s when a new one was built. Since then, they haven't changed much.
The workers say they have nowhere else to move because there isn't any empty space in the hamlet.
The issue was brought to the legislative assembly last month, but we haven't seen any movement to address the situation.
If the workers' accounts hold just one piece of truth, maybe the fire marshal and health inspectors should bring building materials with them.
If private businesses are going to play a bigger role in Nunavut's economy, the creation of a territorial chamber of commerce is the right place to start.
The government is the number 1 employer and the money-maker in the territory. In order to help support the economy, a chamber can be an important institution.
While mainly an advocacy organization, a chamber can help the government create business-friendly legislation and policies and help other Northern entrepreneurs create their own jobs.
With the Kivalliq region poised to grow in the next few years thanks to mining potential, businesses in that region are backing a move to create a territory-wide chamber.
Other businesses in the Baffin and Kitikmeot regions should join this effort.
Whatever differences there are between regions, a united business front can only help the economy, and that's good for everybody's bottom line.
Many recommendations have come forth lately aimed at reducing violence against women in Nunavut, including increased effort by the Status of Women to address the issue.
While there are varying levels of merit attached to each recommendation, they all share one common fault.
They're just words.
And, unfortunately, many of these words -- proper counselling, breaking the circle, etc. -- have been heard a thousand times before.
Yes, there is a place for large gatherings to exchange ideas and share information like we've seen in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet during the past few months.
And there is no doubting the sincerity of organizations wanting to stem the tide of violence once and for all.
Yet, despite all the words, a cloud of doubt hangs in the air concerning the effectiveness of all this brainstorming in dealing with the violence.
And another cloud is forming over the Kivalliq - a cloud of fear.
It's a cloud pushed by injustice and inaction that can't be dispersed by words spoken in any language.
In fact, this cloud is being formed by the very entity the women of our territory look to for help - Nunavut's justice system.
While the pen may be mightier than the sword in some situations, action speaks louder than words when it comes to handing out justice.
We now have women afraid to go outside alone in Repulse Bay.
They are afraid because the perpetrator of the last violent crime against a woman in their community received nothing more than an all-too-familiar slap on the wrist from the courts.
And this particular villain entered the courts with previous baggage.
Until the courts back them up, well-meaning groups can toss out all the ideas, lobby all the departments, make all the resolutions and pass all the motions they want, and nothing will change.
There is no shortage of supposedly liberal thinkers who take every opportunity to state harsh punishment has never been proven as an effective deterrent.
It's time for the Nunavut justice system to put that theory to a test.
Since division, the courts have done nothing but the old soft shoe when it comes to dealing with men - and we use the term lightly -- who repeatedly batter women.
Maybe it's time for those handing down light sentences to take a little stroll across Repulse Bay, barefoot, in the middle of the winter, to appreciate the full impact of this violence.
While you hold your collective breath waiting for that to happen, speak up and demand harsher sentences for those who shatter the lives of so many of our friends, family and neighbors.
We're seeing the results of almost a decade of soft-shoe justice, and it isn't a pretty sight.
Maybe it's time for eight years of steel-toed justice to deal with the problem.
The violence just may slow down with the shoe on the other foot.
The high school has just finished one of its brighter moments of the year, and it looked like everyone had a great time.
The annual snow week proved to be great for the morale of the students.
With activities ranging from a Fear Factor eating challenge to a dizzy stick obstacle course, I'm not surprised it was such a success.
Keeping the students active in the school is a better alternative to walking the streets during break time.
I remember my glory days in Samuel Hearne secondary school (SHSS), and the fun we used to have. It actually doesn't feel like that long ago.
The events I saw this past week were not all that different from how it used to be, although we were lacking in several areas.
I think the pie throwing contest should be brought back, with the teachers as targets.
Nothing against the faculty, but the proceeds could go to program funding.
Seriously though, I have to congratulate the teachers and staff who volunteered their spare time to snow week, because without them, a lot of the activities couldn't be possible.
The Inuvik Family Centre celebrated its first anniversary on Sunday afternoon.
It is always good to see something good last in this community.
I don't know anyone who has had a bad experience in that pool, and I have to attribute that to the great staff there.
I've been there a few times, sadly not enough though.
I talked to a few of the high school students who are training to be lifeguards, and possibly work at the pool in the future.
They seemed willing and able to help people in need, both in the pool and out.
It is always good to see role models developing, and I feel comfortable knowing the community will soon be in their hands.
I think the biggest part of Inuvik that I missed was the brotherhood.
We are a unit here, and co-operation is key for a healthy clean community.
Being in Yellowknife for nearly three months allowed me to reflect on what people can be like, both for the good and bad.
I came home to see a better Inuvik, with less trash on the street. Unfortunately it looked like it snowed a lot since January.
A lot can happen in just over two months.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that we all have to keep working together to make Inuvik the utopia of the North.
I also noticed the sun rises at crazy early times in the morning.
I guess it just means less coffee for some of us to wake up for work.
There's nothing like a good sports tournament to bring a community to life.
The mood in the Fort Simpson recreation centre and the Thomas Simpson school gym was often electric as spectators took advantage of a weekend of free entertainment during the Connie Loutit Memorial Soccer tournament.
Spectators became extremely involved in the games. Watching the crowd's reactions to the action was almost as fun as watching the game itself.
People winced as collisions occurred, cheered or looked disappointed when goals were scored and yelled out instructions to the players. In the close games some spectators could barely stay in their seats as they involuntarily imagined themselves in the midst of the action.
Sports events provide a way for people to become engaged in a community and it's not just about watching the games. A large part of the tournament is about socializing, whether it be with neighbours from down the street or acquaintances from other communities with whom you only cross paths once in a while.
And if tournaments can be this positive for adults, the benefits for youth cannot be underestimated.
The simple action of playing a sport builds the foundation for so many skills and qualities needed later in life. Basic lessons such as the importance of physical activity and teamwork are picked up quickly. Sports can also provide a boost for self-esteem.
Athletes also learn that in life the goal shouldn't always be to win, but to stay true to the spirit of the activity during the journey.
Teams were also flexible in allowing athletes to move between age divisions to fill gaps where necessary.
Athletes also had a chance to see first hand how important volunteers are to a community. Behind the scenes were a lot of people who all did little parts to make the tournament successful.
Some spent six hours figuring out the logistics of scheduling 93 games. Others organized enough food and places to sleep for 460 players. Volunteers made the tournament happen.
On the less cheerful side, sports tournaments also teach youth about how to deal with the disappointments that life sometimes presents.
An early ability to deal with small let downs like a game loss will help make the inevitable bigger disappointments down the road easier to handle. With so many positive lessons to be learned through them, let's hope that sports and sports tournaments continue to flourish in the Deh Cho.
While organizations such as the Fort Simpson village council have been pondering what to do with stray dogs, youth have been coming up with their own solutions.
The effort by class four in Bompas elementary school to raise money to care for stray dogs shows that youth have a keen sense of what is happening in their community and often have ideas about what should be done. Youth should be encouraged to voice their opinions. When children are seen and not heard, the germs of important ideas may be lost.
A story appearing in the April 3 edition of News/North ("A pastor in action"), incorrectly stated that the Fort Smith Pentecostal Church runs the Sub-Arctic Leadership Training Institute and the Pentecostal Sub-Arctic Ministries.
Those two organizations are actually operated by separate boards and directors. News/North apologizes for any embarrassment or confusion caused by the error.
Rose and Barney Tootoo do not have a daughter living in Winnipeg, as was implied in the March 27 article "Travelling thunder." Nunavut News/North apologizes for the error.