Wednesday, May 10, 2006
A baby car seat is an essential part of a car and leaving it to amateurs to install just doesn't make sense. What if there is an accident?
With the cancellation of the child car seat safety program at the Yellowknife fire department, at least 100 parents each year could be left in the dark as to whether or not their precious cargo is safely buckled in place.
While deputy fire chief Chucker Dewar says he hopes to see an organization or user group revive the program by the fall, we say it can't happen soon enough.
Could the city's municipal enforcement team become proactive and offer the service? Charge parents a fee if need be.
Or, since Health and Social Services helped fund the program at the fire hall, perhaps it should train its staff and shoulder the responsibility.
Service clubs can often be stretched to the max because of limited resources, but if the program is implemented correctly, a club could benefit from renting the car seats to parents. The entire community would benefit from knowing a baby may die because of an improperly installed car seat. Almost 80 per cent of car seats are installed incorrectly by well-meaning parents.
Those stats speak volumes to the importance of resuming the program. The lives of babies are at risk.
To every rule, there is usually an exception. And in the case of David Giroux, a Dettah dad who wants his son bussed to Mildred Hall elementary school, it should be the exception.
Giroux's son needs some special attention. The family has opinions from a speech pathologist and an occupational therapist backing that up. That help is available at Mildred Hall and since the beginning of the year Giroux has been driving his son to and from the Yellowknife school every day.
It's only a half-hour drive each way, but with gasoline at almost $1.20 a litre, that gets expensive.
The Dettah District Education Authority says the two professional opinions aren't enough to get Giroux's son on the school bus that brings students into Yellowknife and back every day. They want a psychologist to assess the boy before agreeing to allowing him on the free bus, which brings students past Grade 5 to Yellowknife because the Dettah school doesn't go further than that.
How long will that take? This is a decision that puts the rules ahead of the well-being of a child and his family.
Rules are put in place to prevent abuse, to prevent an exodus of school-aged children to Yellowknife. So far, no-one has said that's the case.
This is a situation where rules need to be bent so a child can get the help two professionals believe he needs. That help is available a bus ride away from home.
There are precious few places that resist change as strenuously as Rankin Inlet often does.
A love for bygone days, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing, unless it gets in the way of changes that improve the standard of living in the community.
In fact, there is often a wistful form of romanticism surrounding those who long for simpler times.
However, there is no romanticism surrounding those in our community who simply refuse to recognize a good thing when it's standing right in front of them.
And, the job full-time Rankin fire chief Rick Penner has done for this community during the past 42 months is a good thing.
Penner has every right to be a little bitter these days.
We join him in wondering what it takes to have those in power realize he's worth every penny of the salary he's being paid.
Mayor Lorne Kusugak is right when he says our volunteer firefighters and ambulance attendants did their jobs before Penner arrived.
That being said, they've become a hundred times better at those same jobs since his arrival.
All the training these members have put in under Penner's watch have made them true professionals, and they should be proud of their current ability to deal with emergency situations.
The fact of the matter is, the increase in their abilities is the type of stuff that saves lives - if it hasn't already.
This brings us to the age-old question of what price do you put on a person's life?
In this case, the answer is the $50,000 needed to keep Penner in place as our full-time fire chief.
I could relate to Penner when he said he doesn't need to make friends to do his job and, in fact, his position almost prevents that.
I have struggled with the strain of personal relationships put in jeopardy over stories that as a professional journalist I had to write.
We can only hope there is no one on hamlet council who would vote to remove Penner based on any personality clash that may have transpired over the execution of his duties as fire chief.
Unfortunately, sometimes feelings get hurt when a job is being done right.
Rankin hamlet council should do everything in its power to retain our full-time fire chief's position.
Mayor Kusugak was bang on the mark again when he said $50,000 is a small price to pay for what the position brings to the table.
And, while we appreciate budgets are more than a little tight these days, maintaining Penner's position is a sound investment into Rankin's future.
A sad fact of today's society is that lives can often hang in the balance when tough decisions are being made based strictly on finances.
Who knows which one of us may have a $50,000 price tag hanging over our head should an emergency situation loom in our future?
It's been a big week for Inuvialuit.
We saw our land claim cheques, although I can imagine that some of us saw them come and go pretty quickly.
It's also the time of year when most families want to be on the land, and a little extra money can mean a lot in the gas tank.
I talked to some people about being on the land at this time of year, just before the roads close and when the sun is out all day.
I hear you can get a lot done during the days, which should be good for those of you who haven't been out to the camps in some time.
This is usually the time of year that I go on the ice road, to enjoy a sunny picnic.
Nothing too extravagant, just me, some friends, a shovel and a grub box full of goodies.
I went to the victim services open house last week, and got to talk to some of the people involved with those services here in town.
The centre offers tons of information about your rights, and what procedures to use following a crime.
Another good service offered to people in the community comes from the Interagency Committee.
After spending a day learning about what they do, I realized that without programs like it, the community would not be in such a good place.
Services like the food bank, suicide hotline and the alternate school were all hatched from people who help with the Interagency Committee.
It's important that we keep programs like that available for the community so we can all grow together.
Growing together is important, too, because that way nobody gets left behind.
Whether it be a fellow student or co-worker, I think we can all band together, and stick through anything.
I don't see any need for high school dropouts because their friends should be there to support them, and give assistance when needed.
I talked with Shane Brewster for a while this week, too.
I think it's great that he stays so involved with the students at the school. That man does wonders for those kids' self esteem.
I remember growing up and hearing him give us advice throughout elementary school.
Seeing him work with those kids that day almost inspired me to have children really soon.
Well, maybe that is a bit of a stretch, but I definitely want my kids to have role models like him.
Once again Mother Nature is proving that she has the final word in all matters.
Spring weather is providing drama, excitement, anticipation and entertainment around the Deh Cho.
As much as humans like to think they have a good measure of control over their daily environment, Mother Nature is always standing by, ready to shake that certainty.
As the rivers break up, humans can do little more than watch and hope for the best. In Fort Liard there must have been some tense moments as the water crept up and over the bank, the ball diamond and a road, leading to the evacuation of one house which ended up with a flooded crawl space.
Other communities are still waiting. The date of break up is an innocent thing to place bets on, but humans can make little more than educated guesses that are often flaunted by nature.
With the ice still in place on the Liard River outside Nahanni Butte on Tuesday, some elders said break up is happening later than normal. That will be sure to put some estimates off.
Spring weather controlled by Mother Nature is also wrecking havoc on local roads and highways.
It can be frustrating when events beyond your control derail plans, especially if the plans involved returning home or taking a planned trip.
Road closures may have inconvenienced some people, but a measure of thanks can be given for timing in this case. If the washout on Highway 1 had occurred just a few days later, it might have posed serious problems for the buses filled with soccer players headed from Fort Simpson to Grande Prairie.
Sometimes the weather misfortunes of some turn out to be benefits for others.
A similar case is happening in Alberta, where unusually dry weather is providing a boon for Fort Simpson fire crews who are getting an early start on their seasonal work.
While this is good news for the crews, no one would want to see the situation turned around. After break up is over it will be time to turn our attention to weather patterns and try to discern what nature has in store for us in the upcoming fire season.
A shout of good luck goes out to all the soccer players who are headed out to tournaments over the weekend.
The athletes deserve success after working hard in a variety of areas. Some have battled waking up at what is almost an unheard of hour for teenagers in order to attend practices. Others have put a little extra effort into their school work, so they would be allowed to travel with their team.
It's also great to see players from Deh Cho communities combine with athletes from other areas to make up teams. This is a great example of the co-operative spirit that we can only hope to see more of in the North.
An error appeared in an article in Friday's Yellowknifer ("Raven invasion to take flight," May 5). The Yellowknife Arts Festival will take place from Aug. 3-7, 2006. Yellowknifer apologizes for any confusion or embarrassment caused by the error.
Also, a clarification: the headline "Remember the fallen" that accompanied Steve Petersen's Labour Views column in Yellowknifer, April 26 was written by newspaper staff.