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Friday, March 02, 2007
Green in more ways than one

In Yellowknife, making homes energy-efficient is not only good for the planet, it's good for the wallet.

Most newer homes have an EnerGuide for Houses energy-efficiency rating of 72, the standard in Alberta and B.C. City council wants to raise the required rating for new homes to EGH 80, the standard of Yukon, Nunavut and most of the provinces.

The EnerGuide rating scale runs from zero for an energy-guzzling home with no insulation and lots of air leakage, to 100 for an airtight but ventilated house run by renewable energy sources like solar or wind power. The higher a home's rating, the more energy-efficient it is.

With the cost of fuel ever rising, making new homes more energy-efficient makes fiscal sense. The new standards would add about $11,000 to the cost of a new home. Considering that the average price of a home in Yellowknife is more than $200,000, that extra $11,000 seems a small price to pay to save $1,400 a year on energy costs.

Builders have shown they are willing to work with the city to find ways to meet the new standard. The Canadian Manufactured Housing Institute has informed the city that they can't put extra insulation in the roofs of pre-built homes without exceeding the height restrictions for shipping.

But the Institute has come up with a number of alternative suggestions on how to meet an EGH 80 standard through improvements like better windows.

The standards would be enforced by having contractors fill out an efficiency check list when applying for a building permit, and by inspectors testing the finished structure for things like air leakage.

Council has already decided on the higher standard, now they have to decide on when to implement it.

Some councillors would prefer to wait until 2009 to enforce it.

Why wait? Energy costs are only going to rise. And the more fossil fuels we consume, the more we risk catastrophic climate change, with the Arctic as ground zero.

Call for action

An emergency 9-1-1 call system has been one of Yellowknife city council's top priorities for four years. With Northern governments it seems that even simple things take forever - like five years to get a bottle deposit system in place.

The 9-1-1 issue was almost an afterthought in Mayor Gord Van Tighem's recent state of the city speech to the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce. He said the system - to serve the entire NWT - was still in the works, even though a consultant hired by the city in 2004 said Yellowknife should go it alone. There's even money set aside to do some of the work.

So we thought we'd come up with a list of things that may happen before 9-1-1 will come to Yellowknife:

  1. The Deh Cho bridge;
  2. The Arctic Winter Games;
  3. 80-cent a litre gas prices; or
  4. A national Green Party government.

In all seriousness, however, it's time council got the system in place because Yellowknifers want it.

Bright future for college

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The future's so bright I gotta' wear shades.

Nobody could really blame Nunavut Arctic College (NAC) president Mac Clendenning or Kivalliq campus director Mike Shouldice for humming the one-time Top 40 AM hit on occasion.

Training has finally become the name of the game in Nunavut and the college is starting to reap the benefits.

The announcement that the Kivalliq campus in Rankin Inlet will play host to the Northern Teachers Education program (NTEP) during the next four to five years is but the latest in a series of good news events for the college - and there could be much more to come.

The good folks from the federal Justice department and Corrections Canada paid a call to the campus during their recent trip to Rankin.

First and foremost on the list for discussion were, of course, preliminary talks on the possibility of initiating a training program in Rankin to supply corrections officers for the new Nunavut correctional facility.

Add in the continuing success of the midwifery and observer-communicator programs, as well as curriculum development for the new trades-training facility, and things are looking up for the college, indeed.

Close contact

Clendenning and Shouldice are keeping in close contact with Education Minister Ed Picco - proving himself to be Nunavut's most effective education minister to date -- regarding the NTEP review the Nunavut government has begun analyzing.

Picco is on a mission to increase the number of homegrown teachers entering the Nunavut education system.

To accomplish that aim while still managing to produce fully qualified and effective teachers, Picco realizes the NTEP has to be broadened in its capacity, scope and delivery.

It may not be too much longer before we see a second permanent NTEP-delivery site announced to compliment the Iqaluit-based program.

And, at the risk of sounding pro Rankin, the Kivalliq campus would be a leading candidate to host the addition should it come to fruition.

Solid job

We would be remiss if we did not also point out the solid job done by Arviat in hosting the current revolving NTEP, which holds the promise of seeing at least 10 graduates earn their bachelor of education degree, recognized by McGill University, this coming June.

Also lost in the shuffle from time to time is the high job-placement rate among graduates of the management studies program at the Kivalliq campus.

Clendenning and Shouldice are to be commended for their efforts in upgrading the curriculum and program delivery at NAC to meet the needs of our still very much developing territory.

And, they've done it with an emphasis on both Inuit students and staff members.

Here in the Kivalliq, NAC's development has reached the point where every one of its adult educators across the region are Inuit.

That's another goal the college has reached that sometimes gets overlooked while exciting new announcements grab the headlines.

The next few years hold a vast amount of promise for NAC, and within its walls rests the promise of continued growth for our region and a higher standard of living for its residents.

The bad touch

Editorial Comment
Dez Loreen
Inuvik Drum
Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm in a room surrounded by high school students and we are all focused on a film being shown. It depicts a male babysitter molesting a boy.

I was in the library at Samuel Hearne school for a presentation about sexual assault. I looked around the room and expected to hear snickers and giggles from the youth in attendance.

Instead, I hear quiet whispers about how sad it is and how disgusting some people are.

There is no room in our society for sex offenders. Sexual predators should be taken out back and shot.

I have no sympathy for people with skewed sexual interests. Keep your hands to yourself. No means no.

But I am impressed with the way the students handled the presentation.

I think it's important to mention that while it took the students a few minutes to settle down and listen, when that film strip came on, everyone had their eyes to the front.

In the small discussion groups after the film, some young guys were asking questions about how to identify a healthy relationship. I'm glad they took it all seriously.

Sexual assault is a difficult subject for anyone to discuss, regardless of sex, age or experience. It takes courage to get in front of a group of high school students and talk about "bad touches."

Some of the language might have been harsh for sensitive ears, but the message struck home with straight facts.

The whole deal was hosted by a group of young people who wanted to get through to the students and teach them an important lesson about respect.

Using younger presenters was a great idea.

All you parents out there, I want you to applaud everyone who educates your kids about respecting themselves and warns them of dangers such as drinking to excess and passing out at a party or getting involved with the wrong people.

These messages need to be taught early and often.

The presenters spoke about sexual abuse from parents, family and friends. It may have hit close to home with some students, but the talks were completely necessary.

It takes strength to speak about sexual assault, but every word spoken gives someone else the power to stand up against their aggressors.

After the talks were done with the groups of youth, I spoke to some of them about what they were thinking about.

This generation of young people seems highly respectful of each other and understands the meaning of the word "no."

I appreciated the respect and maturity shown by the students during the speeches.

They treated the issue of sexual assault with seriousness and with concern, and that's a promising sign for youth and future generations.

Celebrating women

Editorial Comment
Roxanna Thompson
Deh Cho Drum
Friday, March 02, 2007

Once again the Wise Women awards have been given out.

Since 1992 the Status of Women Council of the NWT has distributed five regional awards to recognize women's time, commitment and work in improving the lives of other women and their families.

In the Deh Cho, this year's winner is Bertha Deneron of Trout Lake.

This award provides a convenient opportunity to recognize the work of Bertha Deneron and that of all the other women across the Deh Cho and the NWT.

As of July 1, 2005 there were an estimated 20,889 women in the NWT, just a few thousand short of outnumbering the men who stood at 22,093.

The Wise Woman awards honour female role models who provide volunteer, counselling and caregiving services to others. Although at different levels, many women provide these services on a daily basis whether to their family and friends or as part of their work.

Women have come a long way in terms of their personal and public rights and should be encouraged to take all available opportunities to advance themselves and continue their great work.

Adequate housing is something to which everyone has a right as a human being.

There are lots of stories from developing countries about people forced to live in shacks built from pieces of corrugated metal, cardboard, wood or whatever they can scavenge. For some people having even a flimsy shelter is a luxury.

In developing countries, housing issues usually revolve around making sure there is adequate housing to meet needs and finding housing for people with low or no incomes. Most people, especially Canadians, are fortunate enough to have a sturdy place to call home.

Homes are places for living, raising families, sharing meals and relaxing. But what do you do if you suspect your home is also making you sick?

In the North mould and homes are no strangers to each other.

Houses need to breathe, especially during extended winters. Inadequate ventilation may keep houses warmer by keeping air in, but in doing so it also keeps in all the things the air carries such as water vapour.

In the Deh Cho it's Fort Liard that has had the most significant problems with mould. There has been an ongoing struggle in Fort Liard to ensure that housing there is suitable for the needs of the residents.

The effects of mould growth caused by poor ventilation, inadequate insulation or lack of vapour barriers are well-known. They can include allergic reactions, rashes, asthma and wheezing.

Many residents point to their houses as the causes of these symptoms. Others also suspect their houses of harboring more dangerous moulds.

Experts such as Dr. Andre Corriveau, chief medical officer for the NWT, say the only way to deal with mould problems is to have the house in question renovated.

Continued priority needs to be given to upgrading houses to ensure that they are properly suited for habitation in the North.

Homes are for living, not for making people sick.