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Friday, March 23, 2007
Caribou motion dumb as a ptarmigan

Last week's motion passed by the legislative assembly to protect caribou herds reminds us of the increasing irrelevance of MLAs.

The motion urges the territorial government to adhere to the "spirit and intent" of self-government agreements with respect to wildlife management.

How ironic that only two days later, Tlicho chiefs slammed Environment Minister Michael McLeod for not consulting them on recommendations that would reduce the caribou sport and commercial harvest.

Under the Tlicho agreement, the minister must consult with chiefs on changes to wildlife regulations.

McLeod did not attend We'keezhii Land and Water Board hearings in Behchoko last week, fuelling further speculation the territorial government and at least this aboriginal government are miles apart on the issue.

Shortly after tabling the motion, its sponsor, Great Slave MLA Bill Braden, told his colleagues that leaders at the 2007 Inuvik Caribou Summit wanted "to keep politics out of caribou management," but the government continues to do just the opposite.

McLeod's recommendations included a drastic cut in tag quotas for big game outfitters - to 350 from 1243. It was an attempt to appease some aboriginal leaders who have demanded the outfitter hunt be stopped.

Again, it's too bad McLeod didn't talk to Tlicho leaders who have the good sense to question the cut.

Grand Chief George Mackenzie and Behchoko Chief Leon Lafferty made it clear last week their support cannot be bought with a few caribou taken out of the crosshairs.

Mackenzie said he would rather work with outfitters to protect the herd while ensuring the multi-million dollar business isn't tossed into the scrap heap.

Why can't our government, MLAs included, do the same?

Which brings us back to Braden, who only a few weeks ago was in the thick of battle to keep outfitters in business.

After seeing the motion passed, he confused everybody by pronouncing "we should not hold back from taking strong and potentially even excessive steps" to protect the caribou.

Perhaps he misspoke himself, but it's not the first time he has flip-flopped with confusing statements.

His initial stand in support of moving Yellowknife's Territorial Treatment Centre to Hay River comes to mind.

Braden and the rest of the regular MLAs should stop acting like junior cabinet ministers.

They must tell cabinet ministers their jobs are on the line if they fail to communicate with the Tlicho and other aboriginal governments on issues that affect their jurisdiction.

They must demand that a full count of the caribou harvest, including the aboriginal hunt, be recorded and not allow the government to go after politically convenient targets like outfitters.

By staying on the present course of empty rhetoric and trivial, useless motions, our MLAs, sadly, will only add to the problem.

If cabinet runs roughshod over the caribou issue, what kind of co-operation can they expect when a resource revenue sharing deal depends upon the blessing of aboriginal governments?

Unsung hero deserves praise
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Whether among the most successful, or struggling along in relatively obscurity, every organization has them.

They're the people you rarely hear anything about if you don't deal directly with the organization they represent.

While others attend the photo opportunities and are often seen as the face of a corporation, they toil quietly and effectively behind the scenes to meet their objectives.

They have a variety of titles on their business cards (those who actually have business cards), and their day-to-day existence revolves around making things happen at the grassroots level.

They rarely have input on major financial decisions, mission statements or the obligatory "vision for the future" most spokespeople can work into a five-minute chat numerous times.

And, while the presidents and executive directors are discussing strategy with cocktail napkins folded neatly on their laps - these folks can be found at the church working with youth, sitting on a floor sewing along with other participants, or humbly "negotiating" with local businesses to secure enough knick-knacks to use at their next fundraising event or community gathering.

And that's after they have spent countless hours researching available funding, and typing doggedly away at a proposal long after the lights should have been turned off for the evening.

They are the community reps and project co-ordinators so often taken for granted, and nowhere is their task more important than in the North, especially in Nunavut.

They are true unsung heroes, especially among elders and youth.

Regular readers of the Kivalliq News know I have had some issues with the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) and its invest arm, the Sakku Investments Corp., during the past nine years.

But the times they are a changin' and the KIA has been improving steadily with its performance during the past few years.

The one constant during that time, however, is the respect I've always had for the KIA's unsung hero extraordinaire, Bernadette Dean, and it's time for credit long overdue in this space.

I often wonder if those who occupy the president and executive-director's chairs at the KIA truly appreciate what Dean accomplishes on an annual basis.

Whether you're talking about the catchy tune on the radio sung by regional youth and geared at strengthening Inuktitut skills among the young, the ongoing gatherings of ladies improving their traditional sewing skills, youth symposiums, trips out on the land to develop survival skills, or an early-morning gathering at a fly-swarmed field for kids to learn baseball skills - many of these programs can be traced back to the same cubicle at the Sakku building in Rankin Inlet.

Dean is not alone when it comes to people who fit this category in the Kivalliq, but she is one of the best at what she does and rarely gets the accolades she deserves.

And, while we have no way of knowing how many who benefit from her efforts thank her for the experience, we can acknowledge how much she has done to improve the quality of life in our region.

She is the KIA's most deserving unsung hero of the past decade.

A stronger Internet presence
Editorial Comment
Dez Loreen
Inuvik Drum
Friday, March 23, 2007

The Internet is something else. I spend more than the lion's share of my time browsing web sites and posting messages to my friends on Bebo.

Among the streaming episodes of The Simpsons and bootleg versions of theatrical releases, you can find some technical information about Inuvik and the surrounding area.

I'm concerned that the people of Inuvik are not being adequately represented. I think we're being lost on the Internet in a growing pile of scraggly-bearded travellers and touristas.

In a quick Google search, I found two pages of results that all pointed to "official" sites and information posted by many organizations in the region.

Among those results were blogs and web-journals by people who experienced only 72 hours of sun and did not get to enjoy the spring time ice break-up.

What I did not find nearly enough of was local blogs. Yeah those long diary-esque rantings of people who want to keep their friends informed of the latest news.

Where are all the people from Inuvik who post their thoughts and photos of life in Inuvik? I want to see some more from the inside of Northern life. I have had enough of the "outsider" perspective.

Sure we live differently here and maybe your friends back home want to hear about how cold it is, or how much more you pay for vegetables now.

I think a few blogs or websites about the traditional life would fare well on the world wide web.

One day I would love to search for "Rachel Reindeer camp" and see tons of photos and comments from local people who spend weeks upon weeks on the land.

Students at Sir Alex have been on the land and I want to read about it.

Websites like Bebo or Facebook are now even easier to use, which should open the door to a new generation of bloggers.

With the information age taking off and soaring, isolation is becoming a thing of the past in Inuvik. We are all connected to the south via e-mail and teleconferencing.

I complained a few weeks ago about not having top-notch theatrical movies in town. Well, if you're willing to gather around a computer monitor, there are places to find those flicks. Just be prepared to watch the guy in front of the camera get up for popcorn now and then. I am not advocating bootlegging movies, nor am I endorsing the irresponsible use of said websites.

The most important thing to remember when uploading your photos and information is to be respectful and responsible.

Last year, a video was uploaded to a bebo page, which in turn was spread around like butter on a warm piece of bannock.

Some people got in trouble for the incident, which stresses the point, ask for permission before uploading images of anybody.

I saw David Musselwhite offering his photos online of hockey and scenes around Inuvik. I think it's a great idea for someone with ties to the community to promote the region.

With the Muskrat Jamboree just around the corner, I think someone should take some initiative and post some videos of the long weekend.

Maybe seeing Roy Ipana tell some of his jokes on Bebo will increase our winter tourism for next season.

Braving the winter roads
Editorial Comment
Roxanna Thompson
Deh Cho Drum
Friday, March 23, 2007

I'd like to send a tip of the hat out to all those people who drive winter roads on a regular basis, particularly the residents of Trout Lake and Nahanni Butte.

I had my first proper winter road experience last week while driving to Trout Lake to attend their Ndu Tah spring carnival.

Heading down the winter road, I learned about the meaning of bumpy and tested the range of my truck's shocks. Even at my cautious speed ranging between 30 and 60 km/h, I often wondered if my truck might bounce into the snow banks lining the road.

Added challenges were thrown in when I met up with transport trucks hauling loads of gravel to the community. Squeezing past those things doesn't look possible when you are staring one down and is just as tricky when you actually attempt it.

Arriving in Trout Lake three hours later, a popular question was how I had found the road. Not wanting to sound like the Southerner that I am, I cautiously commented that it wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be.

This was evidently the right answer as almost every person responded that yes, the road was in rather good shape.

One person even commented that maybe they should have brought the gravel trucks in earlier because they'd done such a great job of flattening out the road.

Although I'd love to drive to Trout Lake again, the idea that the road I drove was in a smooth state fills me with a fair bit of trepidation.

The people who drive those roads as part of their everyday lives in the winter deserve a great deal of admiration and maybe even a discount on shocks.

Although to some people looking in from the outside, the Deh Cho must seem like a sleepy little backwater, there is always something happening in the area.

Meetings and workshops occur on a constant basis and people are regularly travelling to attend sessions in places like Yellowknife.

A recent example is the regional product development workshop in Fort Simpson hosted by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

The goal of the workshop was to bring together people with interests in tourism to discuss what is going well in the sector, what needs to be worked on and how changes can be made. Gerd Fricke, the regional superintendent of Industry, Tourism and Investment, made a valid point that relates to many of these types of workshops and meetings.

Speaking about product development, Fricke said that ideas for change and development have to come from the community because community members will be the driving forces behind any products.

This is something important for all meeting-goers to remember.

Getting ideas and suggestions is a wonderful thing, but they need to be put through a filter to sort out what will work best for individual communities.


Wednesday's Yellowknifer contained an editing error in a letter to the editor from Rose Lockhart ("What happened when my son died?" March 21). Her son died in 2006 not 2007. Also, it was incorrectly reported that Paul Matwiy was taking his former employer Edward But to court.

It's actually Maintenance Enforcement that has taken legal proceedings against But over unpaid child support payments from Matwiy. Yellowknifer apologizes for any embarrassment or confusion caused by these errors.