Friday, May 11, 2007
The news out of a meeting held Tuesday with Mayor Gord Van Tighem and long-time organizer Lisa Tesar is that she may carry on with Raven Mad Daze for at least one more year but after that the event's future remains uncertain.
Raven Mad, held every third Friday of June, has served as Yellowknife's summer street party since the 1970s.
Traditionally, residents gather downtown to mingle and meet, check out the rides, the musical entertainment, and buy some cotton candy for the kids plus a burger or two.
The event is also a fundraising opportunity, particularly for the Canadian Cancer Society as RCMP officers, civic politicians and ordinary residents eagerly jump into the barber's chair to have their heads shaved for a good cause.
The downtown business community was once an integral part of the event although those who still participate have dwindled down in recent years.
Raven Mad used to operate under the purview of the Chamber of Commerce, but it's now a privately-run event. Tesar has put her all into organizing the event, but it's a big job for one person.
About 15 years ago, a group of merchants along Old Airport Road complained that the Chamber was putting too much emphasis on downtown businesses during Raven Mad and not enough on those minding shop in the suburbs.
The Chamber has been quietly distancing itself from Raven Mad ever since.
Why can't the Old Airport Road crowd set up kiosks and booths on Franklin Avenue and join the party? And even if businesses don't want to take part, Raven Mad should be turned into even more of a fund-raising bonanza for charitable organizations.
For the mayor, the loss of Raven Mad - even for one year - would land him the dubious distinction of having two major events falter under his watch.
Caribou Carnival degenerated into a silly half-day affair in 2003 because its volunteers were too burned out to continue with a full event and no one was willing to step forward and help out.
Only after the abridged carnival did civic leaders and a cavalcade of volunteers step forward to rescue it.
Whether Raven Mad survives will almost certainly depend on whether people believe it still has relevance.
It would seem an awful shame for it to wither on the vine. After all, maintaining traditions plus the willingness of residents to take part in annual events says a lot about a community's civic pride.
Perhaps it's time to set up a board of volunteers, maybe named by the community groups that stand to benefit. At least the burden wouldn't be on one person's shoulders alone.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Denise Malliki's stunning victory at the 2007 Nunavut Quest dog race this past week was but the latest in a series of accomplishments by Kivalliq youth.
In fact, the impressive and ever-growing list of accomplishments by our youth bodes well for our region's future.
Whether it is a Skills Canada competition in Iqaluit, numerous sporting events, award-winning science projects or a record number of post-secondary graduates, Kivalliq youth have had a banner year.
Further fanning the flames of future success is the number of Kivalliq youth swamping post-secondary institutions with applications to further their education.
As Nunavut Arctic College campus director Mike Shouldice alluded to earlier this month, Kivalliq youth are leading the way among students seeking spots at college, trade schools and programs such as Northern Youth Abroad and the Nunavut Sivuniksavut in Ottawa.
Do not underestimate the significance of this development.
Our hopes are high that all Nunavut youth will realize the benefit of being involved with extracurricular programming while in school, and then continuing on with their post-secondary education after completing Grade 12.
That said, we're tickled pink many Kivalliq youth got the message and are striving for future success.
And, make no mistake about it, winning a gruelling race such as the Nunavut Quest, completing the cadet national star program or taking top spot at a Skills Canada event are all building blocks towards future success.
Those of us who eat, drink and sleep the Kivalliq are finding it increasingly difficult to be humble these days when talk centres on Nunavut youth.
That goes double for those of us involved with programs in the region ranging from sports to science activities, traditional learning and shop-and-trades training.
We're all pieces to the puzzle and that's the rub.
Kivalliq youth are doing their part to brighten the future of Nunavut.
It's now more important than ever for adults to step up and help our youth continue to flourish.
A solid foundation has been laid and the framework put in place, but we must continue to build if our youth are to continue honing their skills.
There is still a relatively small group of people doing the lion's share of work with regional programs.
As more and more youth choose healthy lifestyles and want to be involved in positive programming, the demand for adults to get involved will continue to grow.
And, when you look at the results of the past few years, more adults should want to get involved with programs that help develop our youth.
We've been fortunate to have a number of award-winning teachers the past few years who contribute as much to extracurricular programming as they do to classroom work.
But our educators and a small group of dedicated volunteers can't continue to carry the load alone.
The time has arrived for everyone to do their part in helping our region grow.
Taking pride in the accomplishments of others is a feeling one only truly gets to know by being involved.
Friday, May 11, 2007
If you look at the current animal control by-law, it was dated in 1998 with an amendment in 2001. It's time for an update, I'd say.
Updating town by-laws must be a challenging task.
After talking with one of the by-law committee members I can understand the urgency of the matter.
Apparently we're using by-laws that might be as old as I am.
It's good to see our municipal system at work. Someone was complaining to me about how no organizations are included during the by-law review process. Well, this is the perfect time to have your voice heard.
The by-law committee makes the document, council sees it and passes it for first and second readings during their meetings.
After that second reading, the document becomes public and then we can see it.
Once that by-law is in this stage, we can take it down, tear it apart or re-work it to our needs.
Councillors have held the animal control issue until their meeting on June 11. Anyone in town with a beef on the animal control issue should be at that meeting to voice their concerns.
The most important thing to remember is that this will affect us all.
Even if you don't own a dog, the animal control by-law could limit your rights to own more than three pets.
If you haven't read the draft of the new animal control document, I suggest you call town hall and have them make you a copy.
A few residents came to me about their concerns with the new draft, saying the by-law was "copied and pasted" from other communities in Canada and might even conflict with the territorial and federal acts for animal control.
Now, I agree we have an animal control problem in this town and we always have.
I read some old papers from back in 2003, when the town was up in arms about building a new dog shelter.
Well, we built it and we still have problems with pets in this town. The problem lies with the people who bring pets into their homes without proper preparation.
My girlfriend just got a puppy from one of her friends.
Apparently her friend couldn't keep the dog anymore, big surprise.
If I had a dime for every time a girl gave away her puppy I'd have enough for more than a few KFC combos from across the street.
So now this poor little dog with big bright eyes is being passed around like lip gloss.
While I may not agree with some by-laws in town, every one of them is in place for the safety and comfort of everyone in town.
If council can't come to a decision on the June 11 meeting, they'll hold it off until everyone has put in their two cents.
If you think the proposed animal control by-law is bloated, grab the knife and help trim the fat.
Let your councillors know your concerns and talk to people who are on the by-law committee.
I think this is one of the hotter issues in town because the nay-sayers are having their voices heard by the people in charge.
I'm glad the people who feel passionate about this are coming forward and not just griping to the person next to them in line at the grocery store.
Deh Cho Drum
Friday, May 11, 2007
Pop cans, broken glass, empty chip bags, pieces of unidentifiable plastic, empty paper coffee cups.
These used to be things that were a common sight during any walk in Fort Simpson. On Main Street, side streets and even in grassy fields it was hard to go more than two steps without finding some piece of litter.
Since May 3 things have been much better. The change is the result of the more than 80 people who came out to participate in the community cleanup organized by the Northern Store.
It was fantastic to see so many people put a pair of gloves on, roll up their sleeves, grab a handful of garbage bags and head out with a determined look on their faces. All around the village people of all ages could be seen picking up scraps of garbage and placing them in their sacks before moving on to the next area.
Some people went high tech in their garbage clean-up, coming prepared with fancy contraptions with claws on the end allowing you to pick-up litter without bending over. Others took it down a notch by using a stick with a nail on the end. Even more people simply spent a lot of time bent over reaching towards the ground.
While it was great to see the community pull together and take ownership of the village there was also a disturbing side to the cleanup.
Where did all this garbage and litter come from?
A Rowe's Construction employee was kept busy during the cleanup driving a loader around town to pick up all of the full or heavy bags of garbage and bring them back to the Northern Store where they were deposited in a waiting dump truck. While it was satisfying to see loader after loader of bags being dropped off it was hard not to think of where the garbage came from.
Over a full dump truck load of garbage was picked up during the two hours of the cleanup. It's likely that some litter was missed meaning that even more is lurking around.
Litter is like tangled metal clothes hangers or dust bunnies. Both of these things multiply when left to their own devices in dark closets or under beds.
It's easy to see how litter happens.
Many pieces of litter can be traced back to food products like beverages and snacks. People buy a snack or carry it out of their home while on their way somewhere. After finishing the food or drink, not wanting to be bothered to drag along an empty package, people let it slip out of their hands.
Few people are blameless and Fort Simpson isn't the only place with people who litter.
Once litter is on the ground there's not much you can do about it except have a cleanup. It's after a cleanup is held that people really have a chance to make a difference.
While dropping another plastic straw onto a piece of ground that is already covered in bits of stray plastic doesn't seem like such a big deal, being the first to drop that straw is another matter.
Spring is a time of new beginnings for many things. It also provides a chance for residents of the Dehcho to show that they support their communities by respecting them and keeping them clean.