News Desk
 Readers comment

Free Features


News Highlights
 News briefs
 News summaries

 Arts and entertainment
 Games page
 TV Listings

Best of Bush
The past week by
cartoonist Norm Muffitt

Views North
 NWT views
 Nunavut views
 YK views
 Wildlife Pictures
 Last week in pictures

 Nunavut classifeds
 NWT classifieds
 National classifieds
 Southern job opportunities

Northern Jobs
Nunavut and NWT job opportunities

Guest Book
Send a message or see who signed in


Visitors guides
 Inuvik and Region
 Deh Cho Region

Handy Links

Free travel brochures

Market reports
 Oil & Gas Drum
 Nunavut Mining Symposium
 NWT.Nunavut Mining
 Opportunities North (all industry report on Nunavut and NWT)

Special issues
Dozens of features reports from NNSL publications

Readership study
demographic and
market information,
circulation coverage
advertising information,
special issues and features
for all NNSL publications

Year in review
 Deh Cho Drum
 Inuvik Drum
 Kivalliq News
 Nunavut News/North
 NWT News/North

All papers, offices and departments. Phone, Fax and e-mail numbers

Distributed in Northwest Territories and Nunavut Canada

Northern News Services Online

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall text Text size Email this articleE-mail this page

Pay for honey bag pick-up
Yellowknifer - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If the city wanted to stir up crap and generate a debate on honey bags, they have accomplished their goal.

Last month, the city erected signs at several honey bag drop-off sites throughout Old Town, headlined: "These bags contain human feces - do not touch."

The signs go on to tsk-tsk honey bag users about their poop-in-a-bucket ways, informing them they and the environment would be better off if they switched to compost toilets - a considerable expense, some shack dwellers and houseboaters argue.

The signs sparked outrage among honey bag users who felt the city was picking on them. Indeed, city officials likely are.

Dennis Althouse, superintendent of operations at Public Works, insists the city felt it necessary to notify the "public" of the potential danger spread by honey bags, typhoid and cholera among them, and hence the urgent need for signs.

Going by that logic, we would be led to believe the city is afraid some tourist will wander by and be tempted to rummage through the dropped off honey bags. If that's the case, then why has the city waited until now to erect these signs?

The honey bag has been with us since the earliest days of the city. They remain in use in only a few isolated pockets - some shacks in the Woodyard and Peace River Flats, a few houseboats in Yellowknife Bay, the odd scattered shack around Old Town and the Kam Lake industrial park.

For many years - and no one at the city is actually sure how long, - it's been some poor Public Works wretch's job to come by the drop-off sites once a week, remove the filled honey bags, leave behind a few, clean empty ones and then take the full bags to Fiddler's Lagoon where they are dumped into a growing pile of un-degradable plastic and poop.

The city has been doing this all this time free of charge.

If honey bag users are wondering why the city has resorted to offensive signs in front of their shacks and driveways, we would suggest the scenario illustrated above has much to do with it.

No one else in the city gets free sewage treatment so why should honey bag users, some of whom - particularly in the houseboat community - make handsome salaries as lawyers and business owners. Most houseboaters, it's assumed, don't have drop-off spots but take their honey bags to Fiddler's Lagoon themselves. No matter, they're still filling up city land with their offal without having to pay for it.

If compost toilets are too expensive then surely all those living the shack and houseboat life can at least pay the city for taking care of their waste for them.

Houseboats and shacks, like scavenging at the city dump, are part of what makes Yellowknife interesting and unique. People need to live in these old shacks to ensure their continued existence. The flipside is that the people who choose this lifestyle must realize that it's everyone else in the city who pays for their crap. That should change.

Price too high for machismo
Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The recent death of rookie defenceman Don Sanderson, 21, has sparked a fiery debate, once again, over the role of fighting in hockey.

Sanderson played for the senior AAA Whitby Dunlops of the Ontario Hockey Association.

The Port Perry, Ont., man went into a coma when his head hit the ice during a fight, and he died in hospital three weeks later.

Sanderson's helmet came off during the fight.

Let me say it up front: I firmly believe fighting belongs in the game of hockey.

What doesn't belong in the game is stupidity, and I fear the real issue will be lost amongst all the talking heads - many of whom haven't played competitive hockey in their lives - rambling on about completely removing fighting from the game.

The height of their hypocrisy was evident this past week when Bob McCown had the president of the Canadian Hockey League on his Prime Time Sports talk show, broadcast on radio and TV.

McCown seized the opportunity to bash fighting in hockey, and belittled players who take part in such barbarism.

When the segment concluded and the show cut to commercial, the very first image to pop on the screen was the bloodied and battered face of a martial arts fighter as the network plugged its upcoming TV card. But I digress.

The issues needing to be addressed are improperly fitted helmets that come off too easily and players - doing what they perceive to be the macho thing - removing their head-and-face protection before engaging in a fight.

As many regular readers of Kivalliq News know, I am the only Level 4 hockey official currently active in Nunavut and, as such, I officiate a lot of games.

While Ontario may seem like a long way from the Kivalliq, we had two incidents already this month which could have, but for the grace of God, led to a similar tragedy right here in Rankin Inlet.

One player removed his full-facial cage before a fight, while another removed his helmet before engaging in a tough scrap with another capable fighter.

In both cases, the same sad ending could have happened that prematurely ended the life of Sanderson.

Fighting does not need to be taken from the game, but stiffer penalties need to be assessed to players who purposely remove protective equipment to scrap.

The penalties need to be increased because players have demonstrated time and time again they are willing to put their machismo ahead of common sense.

And, unfortunately, it's not just the players.

Coaches in Nunavut are also supposed to wear their helmets while conducting on-ice practices, yet one constantly sees them out on the ice wearing ball hats or toques.

That's not exactly the message we want them to be sending our young players.

Hockey is a rough game, but it's time for players to realize they don't have to act stupid in order to be seen as tough people upholding some unwritten code.

Damaged eyes, scrambled brains and lost lives are the possible results of such machismo, and that's far too high a price to pay.

Hard pill to swallow
NWT News/North - Monday, January 12, 2009

The territorial government needs to put priority on common sense. Instead of think tanks, it should set up common-sense tanks to help it start implementing reasonable policies.

Before Christmas the health department -- in yet another example of government idiocy -- decided to make income earning NWT seniors pay for health benefits such as prescription drug costs and eye care.

Granted the change will ensure low-income earners in the territory have access to health benefits, but there are many other areas the GNWT could have cut to find the necessary funds.

Now, if you make $50,000 or more, the free benefits seniors earned for working and paying into the health system over the past 60-some odd years, will have to be paid for.

Is our territory's need so immense that it is going to steal money out of the pockets of the people who helped build the NWT into what it is today?

Instead of cutting ridiculous government bonuses such as the exorbitant sums paid to Power Corporation executives, the GNWT woke up before the holidays and found a way to save itself money. It was simple: just stop helping those pesky seniors who have an income.

Shame on the aging population for thinking that they could save a few extra dollars before leaving the workforce and shame on them for having the foresight to provide for themselves in the future. Well, the GNWT nipped that in the bud and has decided to milk them for as much as they can before it is too late.

The best thing for seniors to do now is dump all their RRSPs, quit their jobs and go on welfare. Or, better yet, pack up and leave the territory following the train of residents who are escaping the high cost of living in the North.

We would like to see the health minister and her department executives try to live on $50,000 annually while incurring the rising health care costs that come with age. According to Statistics Canada's report Spending Patterns in Canada, seniors were spending between four and five per cent of their annual income on health care, with the largest portion of those costs being prescription drugs. To put that in perspective: in 2002 a Senate report recommended that the provinces and territories implement programs to ensure seniors are not spending more than three per cent of their annual incomes on prescription drugs. We wonder if Health Minister Sandy Lee read that report.

At a time when the country is worrying about the economy and job security, seniors shouldn't have to worry about choosing between prescriptions and their rent or mortgage.

The GNWT prescription of a new supplementary drug plan for low-income residents comes at the expense of another segment of our senior population.

Side effects may include decreased population, reduced federal transfer payments and failure to be re-elected.

Hip hop helps kids stay healthy
Nunavut News/North - Monday, January 12, 2009

Few things seem as out-of-place as hip hop on the Arctic tundra.

On the surface, the music and dance phenomenon that grew from the streets and clubs of large American cities has little in common with small, remote Inuit communities.

But hip hop is popular among the young, and one thing Nunavut has is a lot of young people.

Youth listen to the music and wear the clothes they see promoted in global media. Picking up the dance moves, however, is harder to do when the nearest clubs are thousands of kilometres away.

That's where organized workshops teaching the athletic dance style come in.

Clyde River has been Nunavut's ground zero when it comes to hip hop programs. The Ilisaqsivik Society has been holding occasional workshops there since 2006; kids now meet three times a week to practise at the community hall. Last year a group of Clyde River's hip-hop dancers journeyed to Ottawa to perform for the Governor General.

Ilisaqsivik's co-ordinator has reported positive results: the goal of becoming proficient at hip hop serves as an incentive to get regular exercise, quit smoking and quit doing drugs.

Other individuals and organizations such as Blue Print for Life and the Canadian Floor Masters have conducted workshops in communities including Arctic Bay, Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet, Pangnirtung, Cape Dorset, Pond Inlet and Iqaluit, using the opportunity to engage youth about issues such as drugs and alcohol, bullying and suicide.

Last month the federal and Nunavut governments pledged $400,000 for more hip-hop workshops and healthy living kits for schools. Investing in the health and welfare of youth is always money well spent.

Active kids are healthy kids, both physically and mentally. Hip hop provides them with a youth-specific outlet for their energy and gives them goals to strive for in the form of new moves, performances and in-house competitions.

And far from edging out traditional culture, many youth use the freeform nature of hip hop to express their unique circumstances in the North. Some perform in traditional clothes. Some incorporate imitations of polar bears, dog teams and Inuit square dances.

So despite its initial incongruity, hip hop is taking the North by storm. And anything that keeps kids happy and healthy is something everyone can get behind.

Avoiding the rules
Yellowknifer - Friday, January 09, 2009
Politicians have to be able to make a living after leaving office but as former premier Joe Handley's new job shows us, conflict rules remain woefully lax here in the NWT.

Handley took a job as a consultant with Atcon Construction last June. The company signed a $132 million contract to build the Deh Cho Bridge across the Mackenzie River in the twilight of Handley's term as premier in August 2007.

If people are wondering why Handley was so hot for the bridge - and he was - his involvement with Atcon is bound to raise eyebrows.

Two weeks before Atcon signed on to build the bridge, Handley met with Atcon president Robert Tozer and toured the company's facility in New Brunswick.

Now he's tagging along with Atcon chasing more contracts and meeting with friends in high places such as Transportation Minister Michael McLeod, who was a minister in Handley's cabinet.

Current conflict of interest legislation forbids former ministers from lobbying on behalf of organizations that were contracted with the government department of which the minister was in charge for up to 12 months after leaving office.

Handley didn't break the rules because Atcon is technically not in business with the government. The company inked its deal with the Deh Cho Bridge Corporation, not the GNWT.

The NWT is too small to take on rules such as those imposed by the federal government, which prohibits departing ministers from lobbying for up to five years.

At the very least though, there should be limits on who can lobby for companies competing for government contracts. Hopefully MLAs will consider that when the conflict rules come up for review this October.

Creating a new partnership with Ndilo
Yellowknifer - Friday, January 09, 2009
With its commitment to pave the streets of Ndilo, the city is accepting that the Yellowknives Dene are part of the broader community of Yellowknife itself.

Announced last month, the city will "complete an engineering design and tender package" to pave Ndilo roads. Long overdue, this demonstrates that local action ... not reliance on Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) - is what Ndilo needs.

For decades, the Dene community has relied on municipal services from Yellowknife. To cover the cost, the federal government pays $144,000 yearly.

That $144,000 is nowhere near enough to pave the community's roads. Yellowknives Dene First Nation CEO John Carter estimated such a project would cost $1.5 million.

To make up the difference, the city will require more cash from INAC, which has committed to updating property assessments for Ndilo.

Hopefully, once the city completes its road-paving project plan, no shameful discrepancies will exist between roads in Ndilo and the NWT capital.

Just as importantly, a basis for a new partnership will be cemented between city hall and Yellowknife's largest land-owners.

Hierarchy of needs
Editorial Comment
Roxanna Thompson
Deh Cho Drum - Thursday, January 8, 2009

The turning of the new year is traditionally a time to take stock of the past year and make resolutions and goals for the new one.

Across the Deh Cho, local leaders including band chiefs and Metis presidents have considered what initiatives they'd like to see move forward in 2009 both for their community and also for the region. All of the leaders Deh Cho Drum talked to listed both the Dehcho Process and the Dehcho Land Use Plan as projects that need to move forward this year.

Three of the leaders used the same word, "standstill," when describing the current status of the negotiations. The Dehcho Process has been going on for years and some real progress needs to be seen, they said.

The focus at the regional level on these two processes is unsurprising. Both are items that have been in the forefront over the past year and longer for the Dehcho First Nations.

What was more telling were the goals and concerns that leaders have for their communities.

In Jean Marie River Chief, Isadore Simon would like to get the community's sawmill going as soon as possible to create economic opportunities.

In Nahanni Butte one of the primary goals is housing. Many families either don't have a house or have problems with their house, said Chief Fred Tesou.

The Fort Simpson Metis Nation is looking for ways to stay afloat after seeing a decrease in their funding over the last year, said President Marie Lafferty.

It is these concerns and goals that highlight what will have to be the real priorities of 2009.

The economic uncertainty of 2008 didn't end with the changing of the calendar. Families and residents who were already struggling with the costs of living in the North will only be hit harder as the effects of the economic downturn move North.

The same basic necessities mentioned by the leaders, including job opportunities, affordable housing and cash flow, will be on the top of many people's minds as the year progresses.

It will be the responsibility of leaders at all levels in the Deh Cho, including First Nations, Metis, municipal governments and the MLA, to focus on what matters most during uncertain times- the basics.

It's all about the hierarchy of needs. Long term projects such as the Dehcho Process and the Dehcho Land Use Plan are still very important but the basic needs of the people need to be addressed before the other projects can hope to succeed or be fully supported. It is, after all, hard to get excited about self-governance, if you're having problems paying your electricity bill.

In 2009, leaders will do well to focus on what their people need the most.

Black eye on the community
Editorial Comment
Dez Loreen
Inuvik Drum - Thursday, January 8, 2009

What is it about the behavioural patterns of people in the North? The question is raised after a cab driver got his vehicle window smashed for the fifth time.

The worst part is the people who attacked his livelihood this time weren't even kids.

The driver of the cab said he was baited out of his car by a gang of youth who broke his back window.

When he got out of the cab, which was parked in front of the Mad Trapper, a bar patron stole his vehicle for a joy ride.

Just like that, a stumbling drunkard drives a stolen cab across town, only to ditch it, causing damage to the front end in the process.

It's no lie that Inuvik doesn't respect our cab drivers. For generations, it's been a childish tradition for youth to heckle the cabbies, even going as far as throwing snowballs and eggs at them as they pass by in the winter months.

Imagine you're out driving in -35 C weather, only to spend time outside your cab, scraping frozen egg and clumped snow from the side of the car.

Granted, I've heard many stories about people being ripped off by cabbies who overcharge or don't give proper change back.

Those isolated cases aside, it's no excuse to bully and harass someone who provides a much-needed service in town.

Over the years we've seen our cab wars, with lower fares and faster service.

For a town its size, Inuvik has a lot of cabs on the road. The town office regulates the amount of licences given out and how they are handled.

This latest incident is just another black eye in a long list of occurrences between the cab drivers in town and the people of the community.

Remember that everyone has feelings and we all deserve the same amount of respect.

In this town, that doesn't mean much. Maybe the vandals are making that point.

"Hey, we don't respect our families or ourselves, why should we respect the cab drivers?"

I'll tell you why. Members of the cab-driving community in this town know each other.

They're a tightly-knit group with contacts and informants all over the town. If you slight them, I wouldn't doubt they already know who you are.

A lot of nice people in this town drive a cab. Just because they spend their days hauling our ungrateful carcasses around doesn't mean they're below us in any way.

If you hear your kids, or anyone around you bad-mouthing the cabbies, straighten them out pronto.

You'll never know when you need a ride.