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Somebody do something

photo courtesy of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment John Stewart, director of teaching and learning for the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, said mandatory residential school workshops for ECE employees and teachers in the territory are showing a positive impact on people’s education in the history.

Inuvik is one of the best places I’ve ever lived, and it’s not just nice for a Northern town.

It's remote but still classically Canadian, a little bit Wild West and extremely friendly.

The only problem is the economy.

Inuvik Drum Editor Stewart Burnett

I walk around town and wonder, what’s someone supposed to do here?

What jobs are there?

What opportunities do they have if they stay?

Maybe they could get one of the trades jobs or a government position but this town’s not screaming opportunity.

I wasn’t here when Inuvik was bustling. I can’t quite understand why leadership seems so blasé about its current state.

Town council rarely seems in a rush to do anything. They talk about writing letters to various government ministers concerning issues affecting the town but then defer doing that, hoping they can bring them up next time the minister is in town.

“House is burning down. I’ll bring it up when I see the fire chief at the café next week.”

This place is on its way to becoming a ghost town if something doesn’t change.

Only the government can prop up a place like this when there’s no natural economy. That’s hardly a sustainable long-term plan but in a situation like this, perhaps the GNWT should consider giving the region a shot of life.

It would be a net loss, as all government spending is, but Northern Canada is in a unique situation with regard to usual economic principles. If the territorial and federal governments want the North to stay populated and active, they need to step in when resources dry up.

Canada as a whole hardly needs a lift in the way the North does but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t have a problem cranking the printing press of fresh dollar bills in an attempt to stimulate the nation.

If anyone in Canada needs a shot in the arm, it’s the North.

Though centralizing to Yellowknife may be efficient for the GNWT, perhaps government structure should be reconsidered and the focus should shift to breathing life into the communities.

Money has got to come here one way or another. Inuvik could regain some economic ground by becoming a true regional hub for the GNWT.

Arguably, the historic Dempster Highway access, unique geographical position and vast swaths of open land make this region more attractive to tourists than Yellowknife. As the Town of Inuvik’s new tourism site states, Inuvik is truly Arctic. It is at once remote and accessible, mysterious and familiar, unique and Canadian.

Rather than the territory be Yellowknife and the rest, Inuvik should become a bigger player in the North and a focus of government investment.

Ultimately, economics trumps all. You can have the most beautiful piece of land in the world but if no one can afford living there, no one will if they don't have to.

The community puts a lot of focus into nurturing its youth but without opportunities all that investment is going to head south after they graduate.

2707peaB1.jpg Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo Ruth Errington, technician with the Canadian Forest Service, has been re-measuring peatland and forest plots in the Mackenzie Valley this summer, part of a 10-year checkup after establishing the plots during the International Polar Year in 2007.
Kenny Stewart, Faith Raymond and Cheryl Zaw are some of the staff steering the Inuvik Youth Centre to a brighter future. Once known as a sketchy place for youth, the centre is hitting a groove as a positive place in the community. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Kyra McDonald shows her silver smile with Team NWT’s first medal in the canoe races at the 2017 North American Indigenous Games. Sarah Pruys photo
Tourists fill the room for the opening of the Great Northern Arts Festival. Though overall numbers seem to be down this summer, some organizations are reporting swelling interest from southerners, such as Parks Canada. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Planet Labs was again not able to track its most recent July satellite launch through its Inuvik ground station. The company has become exasperated with Global Affairs Canada in its pursuit for a license. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo