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Dogsledder gives thanks
Recently, I had an accident on Yellowknife Bay with my dog team. I miscalculated how close I was to the known bad ice off Mosher Island. It was devastating to lose two good trail companions, Django, a lovable, big-hearted 13-year veteran, and Foxy, the team clown.
My mistake also put at risk the lives of those who helped rescue me. Thank you to all the people who helped. These include: the children who heard me calling for help; my neighbour who stayed near me on the ice and kept me talking and focused; the man who got me to safe ice; the fire department's emergency response team who rescued my dogs; the ambulance crew; the Stanton Territorial Hospital emergency team; Great Slave Animal Hospital; and Qimmiq Kennels. I also want to thank all my friends and neighbours who have shown so much care.
The community support and kindness that are revealed at times like these remind me what a caring, close-knit community Yellowknife can be.
Pro-pot voices growing
I would like to thank everyone who braved the cold and came out for the 4/20 marijuana legalization rally on April 20 ("Protestors march to end pot prohibition," Yellowknifer, April 24). A special thank you to the volunteers who added their energy and warmth to the event. Thank you, you really pulled it together!
A big thank you to the politicians, Dennis Bevington and especially Dan Wong, who took a public stand. They added their voices to the growing chorus for legalization. I believe Dan's public stand on this issue will only ensure his success next election and if he had spoken out before the last one, his numbers may have been even better.
For anyone who wants to educate themselves before speaking publicly on a subject, there is a great deal of medical research available on cannabis indicating its non-toxicity, non-morbidity and non-carcinogenic qualities, especially when compared to such things as alcohol and cigarettes. It is also a plant that has uses far beyond just smoking. For example, it can be used for eating and the different flavours lend to many more recipes than just brownies (think oregano). I do find it odd that there are so many dangerous plants in the world, such as hemlock, but none of them have been made illegal for our safety. The illegality of this plant directly leads to a lack of statistical research on impairment issues. I believe this lack of research brings into question the findings of the recent Transportation Safety Board report regarding the Air Tindi pilot's impairment at the time of flight. It is known that THC levels can remain in the system for an extended length of time past initial consumption. More research must be done before conclusions such as this can be made.
Spreading cannabis awareness is key at this point in the legalization movement and I am thankful to have been able to reach out to so many people through the rally this year. Thank you to lottery winner Bob Erb (ERB4HERB) and Native Women's Association of Canada for their support, without them it would not have been the great community event it was!
Thank you to the City of Yellowknife and the RCMP for giving the local cannabis community an opportunity to prove ourselves as responsible and respectable members of society. Until next year, happy 4/20!
Former mayor stood up to Joe 'Banana'
I would like to take this time to thank reporter Simon Whitehouse and the staff at Yellowknifer for the great work that was done on the article about my dad Gordon Albert Allen ("City's second mayor dies at 94," Yellowknifer, March 6).
I just wish that everyone up there knew him. He was fair and would not choose sides. When he worked with Atlas Copco in New Jersey, he stood up for his employees against the union headed by a person later known as Joe "Banana," who ended up backing off as the plant did not want to be unionized. The world lost a great person when he passed away.
Fracking research a must to reduce impact
Thank you for your balanced editorial on fracking in the May 6 edition of News/North ("Onward and downward"). The issue of horizontal fracking, including the fracking of relatively shallow wells, will become a major issue in the NWT over the next few years, initially in the Sahtu region and then in the Deh Cho.
Water is essential to life. Depending on our age, between 50 to 70 per cent of our own bodies consist of water.
When probing for life on other planets, scientists look solely for any evidence of water. Because it is essential (some would say sacred), water must be considered a human right and a public, not private, resource.
Fracking is an industrial activity that uses large amounts of freshwater, contaminates that water, and then allows a significant volume of that toxic water to remain in the ground, where it can interact with groundwater, flow through faults in the ground, and potentially re-enter our surface water system.
That is one reason why many jurisdictions have either banned or placed a moratorium on fracking. Other reasons include increased greenhouse gas emissions, significant disturbances to surface lands, and increased earthquake activity.
Yes, more research and conclusive science is needed to fully assess the risks and longterm environmental impacts and costs of fracking. Simply allowing companies to begin horizontal fracking in the Sahtu or other NWT regions on a trial basis is not adequate or appropriate. Proper assessments need to be done.
The whole point of environmental assessments and regulatory oversight is to ensure that required research is carried out, full disclosure of proposed industrial activities is made (including what chemicals are being used), potential risks are thoroughly assessed and mitigated, and effective monitoring and reporting procedures are put in place for identification and public disclosure of any problems that might arise.
Oil and gas companies operating in the NWT should not be resisting public oversight of their activities, including environmental assessments.
The oil and gas is not going anywhere, so proper research and planning before extracting it through fracking, to reduce negative impacts on our water and our lives, makes sense.
Peter Redvers, co-chair, Council of Canadians, NWT chapter
NWT film incentives needed
Let's talk about bridges for a moment.
Now, I realize there may be some friction about the building of expensive bridges, but let us think a moment about why we build bridges. The idea of building a bridge is to invest in our economy. When we build a bridge, it costs the government money. But it makes it easy for goods and services to be transported. Bridges increases trade, commerce, accessibility and, ideally, is ultimately of greater benefit to our society.
There are several investments our government makes with the intention of benefiting our economy. For example, roads are built and maintained, as are airstrips and ports, and there are a variety of incentives for different levels of entrepreneurs. These investments help many of NWT's industries build revenue, including mining, oil and gas, tourism, etc. However, there is one industry the GNWT seems to have a hard time supporting, and that is the film industry.
When feature films shoot in an area, the economic impact is substantial. Anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a few million can be injected into an economy.
Crews arrive, ranging from dozens to hundreds of people needing lodging, food, and entertainment. Vehicle rentals are needed, trailer rentals, generator rentals. There are local hiring possibilities and, maybe most importantly, there are local training possibilities for community members to have the opportunity to be exposed to top-tier film production.
Nearly every jurisdiction across the country offers some sort of incentive to the film and TV industry. The NWT does not. So, we are getting left behind.
The idea of an economic incentive for film and TV goes as follows -- a film production wants to spend $500,000 on a movie, so Alberta says, "Hey, we'll help your cash go a little further if you bring your money to our province."
Incentives can come in a variety of forms. For example, many provinces offer tax rebates for money spent on local labour, as B.C. does. In the Yukon, because the distance from southern centers is substantial, if a production agrees to bring X amount of dollars into the territory, the government will help out a bit with the transportation costs, as well as a bit with other general costs. It becomes very alluring to production companies, and they decide to shoot their project in the Yukon! In the end, the local money earned in revenue is far greater then any money spent.
Why NWT has not started doing this baffles me.
Not only do incentives help attract more outside productions, local producers who want to make their own feature films have more potential to get their projects off the ground. It helps build a local, sustainable industry, which benefits us all. Yukon and Nunavut have found great success doing this.
I am a homegrown Hay River filmmaker. I currently have a feature idea that would potentially take place in the NWT. However, my hopes of shooting this film in the NWT are slim.
I feel any producer or funder would make the economically smart move, and say, "Let's shoot in northern Alberta. Our money will go further, and this will make us a better movie." And, well, they would be right. So now, it is up to the GNWT to step in, make us competitive and catch us up with the rest of Canada.
Work together to improve economy
In addition to my last letter regarding the small contractors in the Sahtu area ("Little guy not working in Sahtu," May 6 News/North), the Department of Transportation did an airport extension in Fort Good Hope. The department gave a good example of how to work together. It hired local community contractors to supply what equipment was needed to complete the project without putting it out for tender and it worked very well.
The community started to do the same, so I would suggest to the other communities and oil companies to do the same. For example: We built an all-weather road to a new gravel pit and it was completed with small gravel trucks and training.
Thank you for letting me share my concerns.
Devolution a complex issue
Last session, after a vote in the legislative assembly refusing a plebiscite on the devolution draft agreement, has left little doubt that, short of a snap federal election or a successful court challenge by the First Nations not yet signatories, this particular deal is done. Premier Bob McLeod has indicated that no changes will be allowed, that it is a take it or leave it proposition and that most of the MLAs and cabinet are onside.
The pattern is set and negotiations continue for the transfer of government positions. There are millions of dollars in the 2013 federal budget to manage the change. For most NWT residents, the changes to our authority structures will be not easily apparent until the agreement is fully functioning. For unless the GNWT decentralizes some of the federal positions being transferred, devolution may start off as a non-event for more than 80 percent of our communities.
The people of the Northwest Territories need these processes to be transparent and not coated with bureaucratic wordsmithing. All of the information must be provided so there is a meaningful dialogue to understand what is going to happen, or not happen, with the transfer of public responsibility.
Take, for instance, the responsibilities for the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) that are simply being delegated, not transferred by law. As a member of the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board from its beginning in 1998 until 2001, I have a great interest in how this will function in its new configuration.
The Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act is a unique document in Canada. It has the responsibility to look at the social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being of the people of the NWT.
It was designed to ensure that the things provinces should do automatically, in the provincial self-interest, would be given consideration by the federal government.
When one looks at the draft final agreement, the roles are laid out in a legislative language that would defy 99 per cent of the population from understanding. Simply put, the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has delegated some of his powers and responsibilities and held others back. The contentious issue of appointments to the boards remains in the federal control, as do the purse strings for these boards.
Also, when it comes to the approval of the terms of resource developments, such as mines, pipelines and oil and gas wells, the situation is less clear. The minister of Environment, (or perhaps the minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment?) will assume the role of the federal minister in assessing the projects along with the relevant other federal ministers.
This is what the agreement says. So it appears the decision making will now be shared between two governments. This should set off some alarm bells!
The changes to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act are just one issue of many that need to be clearly understood.
I encourage all Northerners to take an active interest in what is happening with this agreement. By understanding what is possible and needed for our future, we will be more likely to be successful.
As the sole representative from the NWT in Parliament, where devolution will be studied and debated within the year, I welcome any knowledge and information that can guide my efforts on your behalf.
Are we feeding city's bully wolf?
Re: "Anti-bullying bylaw not for Yk: city councillor," News/North, April 29).
Aboriginal wisdom - a story about two wolves (with a little bit of editorial licence): A Cherokee elder was teaching his grandson about life.
"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents darkness. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, ego and bullying. The other wolf represents light. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, truth, kindness, empathy, generosity, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you, and inside of every other person too, and inside of every community (for example, Yellowknife)."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
Yellowknife, which wolf are we feeding?
Letter writers wrong on pot, MMA fights
Your newspaper has recently published a whole spate of one-sided letters by a whole slew of different readers. I was equally repulsed by all of them, and therefore I will attempt to rebut them all.
First off, to Keith Shergold ("Wong wobbly on pot arguments," Yellowknifer, April 24) and Rocky Parsons ("Councillor one toke over the line," Yellowknifer, April 24): Parsons' letter contains no legitimate arguments and is merely an appeal to his narrow perception of common societal values and the infallibility of current laws. Since both of these positions are subjective, I need simply state that he is in a clear minority, based on all evidence from recent election and poll results throughout North America.
Shergold's letter is more carefully argued, though still wrong on every single point. First he tries to state that marijuana is only consumed for impairment, while alcohol is consumed as frequently for taste. This displays ignorance of both substances. Marijuana has numerous different strains grown for different qualities, including taste, as well as numerous methods of being consumed, including in food, numerous varieties of glassware, and the traditional joint. It is ludicrous to state that so many different variations exist in one product if the sole purpose is to become impaired. Why don't people just all use the version that impairs them the most?
Next he claims there is a lack of valid research on marijuana's effect. As early as 1950, the American Bar Association and American Medical Association attempted to publish a joint report widely condemning all aspects of marijuana prohibition as futile, and all claims of the plant's supposed danger as having been fabricated. The medical evidence has for more than 60 years clearly spelled out the lack of harm caused by this plant, and the governments that continue to maintain anti-marijuana laws are doing so contrary to this evidence. Finally, he makes a ridiculous claim that marijuana causes cancer - if that were the case, then why is cancer one of the most common conditions for which medical marijuana is prescribed?
Finally, the letters from Nancy Vail ("Upset over MMA photo," Yellowknifer, May 3) and Vivian Hansen ("Violent photo sends wrong message," Yellowknifer, April 26), in regards to mixed martial arts. They both wrote almost exactly the same letter, so I will reply to them as one. Firstly, any attempt to conflate the Boston bombings with mixed martial arts is an insult to both the MMA community and the victims of the bombing. It is offensive to try to make any parallels between a supervised, regulated fight between two trained fighters and a wanton act of destruction committed by a pair of crazed degenerates against unsuspecting victims. There is nothing in common between the two, period.
Finally, they attempt to argue that these sports encourage violence. In my experience, people who train to be fighters are disciplined, dedicated individuals who are made to understand from day one that their skills are for use in the ring, not against untrained victims. The people who go around mugging and assaulting people are typically not of this type, being, instead, undisciplined people with anger problems who lack the self-control or dedication to self-perfection that is a necessity in any athletic field. The sport is not for everyone - the same could be said of any sport. But when an outsider who has no relation to a given sport starts crusading to defame something that other people enjoy, then that outsider is the only person who is in the wrong.
Proud to be who we are in Simpson
In response to Peter Gunther's "An open letter to Premier Bob McLeod" advertisement in the April 29 edition of News/North, as the mayor of Fort Simpson I must respond to Mr. Gunther's assertion that "even sadder is that Fort Simpson remains seeking a purpose."
We are proud to be what we are. We appreciate Mr. Gunther was trying to ask for an economic boost for Norman Wells. I just ask that you don't put down Fort Simpson when you do that.
Fort Simpson is a great place to live and we are not looking for a purpose or waiting for someone to find us a purpose.
The truth is that Fort Simpson (Liidlii Kue) is a healthy, happy, culturally-diverse community that does have a purpose.
We are a regional service centre with a diversified economy, serving five surrounding communities.
Our community is a host community that offers tourists a number of outdoor adventures, including trips to Nahanni National Park. We are the gateway to the Nahanni.
Our business community is strong and can provide almost any service that our residents might need. We are currently supporting the prospect of two new mines in the region.
Our cultural and art community is vibrant, hosting the annual Open Sky Festival, a great venue for regional artists and craftspeople.
We have fantastic recreational facilities, including a large recreation centre and a brand new swimming pool. Our volunteers are second to none, and helped to create and maintain one of the best golf courses in the North.
Our schools, college and health centre provide excellent services.
I have lived in Fort Smith, Yellowknife, Hay River and for a short period Norman Wells. I have never visited Inuvik, but plan to.
I have found great people and resources in all of the communities that I have visited and know that our first priority is to work together as we move forward. For example, I support an all-season Mackenzie Valley Highway road to Inuvik and I think that would benefit many communities, not just one.
Looking forward to a bright future.
Little guy not working in Sahtu
This is to advise people about the economy in the Sahtu region.
A new airport was built in Fort Good Hope. There was no work, very little went to the community, and there was no use of community bed and breakfasts.
There was a big renovation to the tank farm, and again there was not much that went to the community.
There was a new community complex built and there was not much use of the community contractors or bed and breakfasts.
Coming up, there will be a new road and reservoir project and it has been awarded to the lowest bidder and now they are trying get everything cheap or on a handout. They want to rent a house for cheap and rent a vehicle for next to nothing, and community businesses are the ones who end up with no work or business.
When an all-weather road was built to an industry camp site, try to ask the company to get a couple of gravel trucks on and they said that they are only using big rock trucks, and again the small contractors lose out.
So there's a lot of work in the Sahtu but they make it hard for small contractors to get work. The land claims are not working for the Sahtu beneficiaries in the business aspect.
That makes me afraid that when they build the highway, they will leave the small contractors and business out.
Devolution deal shows premier's arrogance
Premier Bob McLeod is quite right in saying the devolution deal he has negotiated with the Harper government is a "one shot deal," if those are his words ("One shot at devolution, according to premier," News/North, April 15).
If it was rejected by a public vote, there probably isn't enough time remaining in the terms of both governments to come up with something that doesn't continue the practice of giving away Northern resources for a song - one that senior managers and shareholders of the resource companies whistle all the way to their banks.
In his passion to have his name in history books, Premier McLeod forgets that there are more premiers, prime ministers and governments coming down the pipe. They will be just as able as the current slate of politicians, maybe more so, having the benefit of knowing what went before, what was good, what wasn't. But to say that the people of the territories do not deserve a direct voice in the terms and conditions of devolution is the height of arrogance.
Upset over MMA photo
Please accept this as a letter of complaint about the "boxing" photograph displayed on the front page last month ("Fight night in Yellowknife," Yellowknifer, April 17).
I appreciate someone calling and asking if I wanted my first letter published, which was short and to the point - the picture was awful - particularly for young children who may have been exposed to it first thing in the morning.
The point is, is that we are living at a time when we are surrounded by violence and uncertainty and everyone has a social responsibility to do their part in trying to put an end to it. It is noteworthy that that photograph appeared two days after the Boston bombing.
As the only newspaper in this community, Yellowknifer has a responsibilty to act in the best interests of all people, including the vulnerable and the children. If we wonder why violence is on the rise, maybe all we have to do is look at pictures like that. As an adult, I couldn't even look at it. It was too distressing, so I can only imagine what a young child might think.
I actually do not even understand why this "sport" is allowed because there is nothing masculine or cool about it. In fact it is rather pathetic. And if a so-called special interest group concerned about the welfare of children sponsors it, which I believe has happened in the past, well, that's worse.
In my opinion, publishing that picture was just sensational journalism, and did nothing for the health of the community.
So please be more responsible when choosing your photographs in the future, and take into consideration the impact they may have on young people, the vulnerable and the at-risk. We all have a responsibility to play in their growth and well-being.