The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway opening was splashed all over our Northern papers. They had a party and a half, even the new Governor General, Julie Payette was there, with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett and our Premier, the Honorable Bob McLeod.

We expected them to put on the biggest party ever. After all, you may say Tuk waited 57 years to be connected to Inuvik, which was built and completed in 1960. It took four years to build Inuvik. Imagine waiting 57 years for the connection between Inuvik and Tuk as there are not many miles between the two. And, people are asking that big question regarding the ocean eroding the soil. All that money to build a highway and the town is sinking. It’s been sinking for a lot of years.

Anyhow, we just have to blame the past governments of the Northwest Territories for the long, long delay in building the connecting highway. People should ask Premier Bob McLeod and Prime Minister Trudeau about the future of the Beaufort Sea. What plans do they have the Arctic and the Beaufort? We do know the feds put a moratorium on oil and gas “activity” according to the joint statement with President Barak Obama in December 2016. Current President Donald Trump signed an order to expand exploration in the Arctic in April 2017. So, we would like to know there are plans and what are the plans!

Anyhow, I for one am really disgusted with Payette, Sohi and Bennett, two top ministers and the Queen’s representative on our door step in this isolated neck of the woods. They didn’t even have the wisdom to see the reality of their situation and to take advantage of it by stopping in the Sahtu to see first hand the problems due to our isolation. But, no, they just flew over our region. We didn’t even know these high profile ministers were going to Tuk. In my eyes, they snuck in and I blame the governments for not planning an additional trip to Norman Wells. In my way of thinking, it is stupidity and lack of foresight.

I’ve been going through some of my old newspaper clippings. I see one from January 19, 2011 titled “A Flexible Classroom.” The Town of Hay River had a store front school. We need one of these schools in each small community. I contacted the teacher who still lives in Hay River, Shelene Giraldi. Due to finances, the store front school was moved into the regular schools.

I truly believe we must do something drastic about education in the small communities. As you all must realize, I am always pushing for a gathering center in every community and to be located in the most public place where it has easy access with a building just like the SideDoor in Yellowknife. It should be a real hang out place where people can learn everything and anything like new computer skills, painting, sewing, etc., and to upgrade skills for a better life.

In this day and age with the long years of GNWT there are still many adults who cannot read or write, can’t train for jobs, etc. It is time for communities at large to plan and think for themselves and not depend on the government who seems to be in their own world.

The small communities should have meetings in their regions and plan for the future. Time is flying by, including the 57 years since we joined Canada and what has it brought us – some communities are doing well and others are still in isolation without much hope for roads to connect us to the rest of the NWT, Canada and the world. Tourists will come to drive the highways from coast to coast to coast. Those of us in isolation will be left out again. Time to wake up and plan our future and hold the Feds and GNWT to account.

We can’t depend on Trudeau as he is so busy on the world stage. By the way, he must be eating well as his face seems to be getting plump and round.

See you next week.

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