Monday, November 30, 2009

Just Grow A Brain And Apologize Already

In my last post I talked about how the former Premier violated the territory's Integrity Act when he solicited campaign donations from senior staffers during the 2008 election campaign. Now, the Assembly has accepted a report, by a vote of 11-3, calling upon the Premier to apologize or face sanctions of some sort. The story has been reported on by both CBC North and Nunatsiaq News. I can't say I'm surprised at the 3 MLA's who voted against accepting the report. Tagak Curley and Louis Taparjuk are part of Okalik's "Old Boy" Club and James Arvaluk is a convicted felon. How sad that the concept of integrity is lost on a former and a current Education Minister.

An apology would be the right thing to do. Unfortunately, Paul Okalik has too much of an ego for that. I actually laughed out loud when I read Okalik's quote in Nunatsiaq News - "It is a little difficult to follow the laws when they’re being applied after the fact.” This statement is a little hard to figure considering that Okalik was also the Justice Minister. Either he doesn't know his own laws or the man simply too arrogant to care.

Friday, November 27, 2009

And On And On It Goes....

Thirteen months ago, Nunavut held its 3rd territorial election. This was the second of two territorial elections I was present for. I got a sense during the campaign that Nunavummiut were few up with the status quo and silliness of the actions of some of the old crop of MLA's and were hankering for change. Quite a few of the contenders seemed to make the concept of change a part of their campaign runs. Indeed, 10 of the 15 seats for which elections were held were won by first-time MLA's. People were hopeful. Change seemed to be in the air.

And for awhile, things seemed to be going better. A new crop of MLA's a new Cabinet and a new Premier. Then there is a news item involving former Premier (and current MLA) Paul Okalik violating the Integrity Act by soliciting donations from deputy ministers during the 2008 campaign. According to the Nunatsiaq News article on this same story, Okalik doesn't care. Then two stories of problems with alcohol, the first involving the Member from Baker Lake and the second involving the Member from Pangnirtung. At least Komoartak had sense enough to address the Assembly over his actions and express regret. But still....I was hopeful a corner had been turned, that integrity and trust would soon be restored. Sadly, this current crop of MLA's seems to be reverting back to old ways.

And don't even get me going on the current MLA from Pond Inlet James Arvaluk,who was forced to resign his seat twice in the past (1995 and 2003) due to criminal charges and spent time in jail. Yes, as a former teacher in the Nunavut education system, it gave me such a great feeling to know that the guy at the top of the education hierarchy, my ultimate "boss" beat his girlfriend giving her nerve damage and was incarcerated for 9 months.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What A Waste

It's a bit dated now, but a recent edition of Maclean's caught my attention and it wasn't on account of Canadian university rankings. Rather it was this article that caught my attention. Pretty interesting when you consider how bent out of shape some animal rights activists get over Inuit hunting seals.

"...bureaucrats in Brussels have cooked up laws to ensure that all EU citizens are eating fruit and veggies of the same shape and size." Always a good reason to resort to food wastage while a great number starve. Speaking of sheer stupidity, I don't even know where to begin with this pathetic story.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Year Of The Inuit

It was with great interest that I read about Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Mary Simon's aims to create greater awareness of Inuit issues now that 2010 has been declared the Year of the Inuit. And why should 2010 be declared the Year of the Inuit? Because Southern consciousness of Canada's North must be broadened beyond issues regarding the construction of pipelines, tales of lost explorers, resources development, fights over the Northwest Passage and issues involving sovereignty. True, these issues are important (the last 3 especially so in recent years) but if you don't have a true North strong and free in terms of its human resources and capital then you don't have much.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kugluktuk Grizzlies, The Movie?

I was actually looking for some information on another topic I was going to blog about when I came across this interesting little article from Maclean's Magazine. I don't have a subscription to it but I do hope to get a hard copy of it so I can read up some more on the aforementioned story. I've never been to the community of Kugluktuk although I did once work with a colleague who had spent some time there. (Plus, I "know" a blogger that used to live there too. Hi Kara!) Having taught in Nunavut for a few years, I've heard some great things about the Kugluktuk Grizzlies, their activities and goals. I've lost count of the number of times I opened a newspaper to read about one of their sports teams winning a medal at an indoor soccer or basketball tournament. I had the privilege to meet a few Kugluktuk students a couple years ago at a badminton tournament in Rankin Inlet and they were a great group of kids to chat with. So sure, I'm biased as hell, but I like to think a movie would be a fantastic idea. Nunavut-based movies aren't as far-fetched as you might think with Inuit-owned Isuma Productions award-winning films in recent years.

Go Grizzlies, Go!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oh My God!

Generally, I have a low opinion of politicians but bravo to all Canadian MPs who partake of the seal meat on the menu of the Parliamentary restaurant. It's refreshing to see our elected officials supporting the little guy at times other than election times. I'm sure a few animal rights people and Euro trash politicians are freaking out at the notion but hey, I don't tell you what you should or shouldn't eat.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Good Doctor

When I saw a headline about a long-time Northern doctor having passed away I had a feeling it might be Dr. Otto Schaefer and when I clicked on the link it was to discover that the good doctor had passed away. I first became familiar with the man and his work through the book Sunrise Over Pangnirtung. For a number of years now, I've kept a little mental list of northerners I'd love to meet over coffee and Dr. Schaefer was definitely on that list. The closest connection I have to the man is through a chance meeting a few years ago with the grandson of his Inuk assistant Etuangat.

The North is full of people who move up from the urban South for a short while before retreating to sunnier climes. Dr. Schaefer was a welcome exception. For this, and for a life dedicated to improved the lives of his fellow human beings, the man has my utmost respect.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh Wow! An Exemption!

So the EU wants to ban Canadian seal products effective August 2010. Oh, but don't worry. They'll make an exemption for indigenous hunters. Yeah, that will work. And its not just now that seal pelts are going unsold. I remember full well hearing from members of Arctic Bay's Hunter's and Trappers Organization last year that there were similar problems at the Fur Harvesters auction. I wish I could say that if the European nanny-state wishes to dictate to its own people which products they should or shouldn't have access to then that is their right. But I can't. Simply put, what they are doing is ILLEGAL.

And please don't persist in this fiction that some sort of feel good exemption is going to make an ounce of difference to seal hunters in Nunavut. It won't. Given that this is Remembrance Day, I find this move especially annoying. Give me a break France. Canadians, including many Aboriginal Canadians fought for you guys to bail you out......twice. And to the thoughtless jerk who left me a comment a few months back comparing Inuit culture to Nazism, hey even some French collaborated with the Nazis. Guess it takes one to know one, huh?

A few days ago I watched a show on tv in which Bordeaux wine producers were whining about increased international competition and the accompanying drop in sales. Bordeaux is know the world over. Imagine if a number of countries unilaterally decided to stop buying your wine. Not that they'd be missing much. Personally, I'd much rather settle down with a nice big red from Chile, the US or Australia. (Australian Cab. Sauvignon is especially nice for a steak dinner after which you plan to propose I should add.)

Sorry for the mini-rant. Back to the original topic. The hunt is sustainable. Period. It is an activity that has been taking place for several centuries. The seals are not going to simply disappear. Seals are not all cute and fuzzy. Actually, I find their smell a tad nauseous. The EU likes to think it is some sort of Arctic entity yet they show through their actions that they are completely ignorant of northern realities. I would challenge any of these so-called politicians who are so concerned about the stability of the hunt to name one species the Inuit have hunted to extinction. Just one.

An exemption for the indigenous hunt? Whoopee!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Miss The Views

Having now moved to a land of forests I have to admit to sometimes missing the wide open spaces of Nunavut.....and the views that seem at times to go on forever.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Glad This Turned Out Okay

While its easy to romanticize about the North, there is an alternate reality. One that is much harsher. Certainly I am guilty of waxing poetic about Nunavut....its extreme temperatures and its rugged landscape. I've had my share of close calls out on the land I know a few others who have shared their stories of getting into tough situations. It doesn't take much to get you into trouble up there. The weather and the land can be highly unpredictable. I know even the most experienced of hunters have found themselves in a tough situation despite careful and calculated preparations. Consider what this kid went through.

I had an opportunity a couple years ago to meet a few youth from Coral Harbour when I was attending a badminton tournament in Rankin Inlet. Fantastic representatives for the community. Maybe the young lad in this story was there or maybe he was a friend of someone who was there. Who knows. All I'll say is that whoever this kid is, he deserves a lot of credit. (I know what I would have done had I been in the same situation, smack in the heart of polar bear country and it wouldn't be pretty). Nunavut youth get a lot of flak for many different reasons. But here's a kid who's survived an ordeal that would have killed a big city kid.

Hats off to the lad!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


It took me a little longer than expected but with this post I reach a milestone, one I never thought I'd see when I started this humble adventure several months ago. Yes, I've reached 900 posts! Who knew? I plan to keep the blog going with updates, perhaps not as frequently as I was once able to but now that I've reached 900, one thousand posts looks just oh so tempting. Thank you to everyone for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Thank You To The Anti-Seal Crowd

Generally, I savage the anti-sealing nut jobs on my blog. Given the length of time I've spent in the North, and in Nunavut in particular, this is no big shock. Having come home from work and read this story though, I have to say a big thank you to these morons. Thank you for helping bring the MP's folder to national attention. They really do make great gifts. And you help support Nunavut sealers and their growing economy as well. EU politicians really need to get off their high horses and get one. I might even start buying their (slightly inferior to Canadian) wine again as a goodwill gesture.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Taking On The European Union

Coming as it does on the heels of my last post, I was pleased to read that Canada is challenging the European Union's seal ban at the World Trade Organization. If the Europeans were really that clued in to the Arctic, its people and its wildlife as they think they are then they would surely realize that A) seals are, if not the most, than certainly one of the most, numerous animals north of the Arctic Circle and B) proposed exemptions for Inuit subsistence hunting are meaningless and a complete joke. Honestly, can they name a single Arctic species that the Inuit have hunted to extinction?

Norway is both a European nation and a circumpolar nation and they purchase a large percentage of Canadian-harvested seal skins. Something in the order of 80% if I'm not mistaken. Frankly if I was an EU politician from France or Germany I would find this a tad embarrassing. Perhaps Norway understands something the French and Germans do not. So much for some sort of European solidarity. Please, stay in France and eat your pate de fois gras or stay in Germany and eat your wild boars. Do your bull-fighting in Spain and stick to your English fox hunts. Don't continue in the fiction that THOSE little activities long longer exist in your countries while taking shots at ours. Hypocrites!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Apparently, EU Politicians Failed Geography Class

I'm sorry, but when I read this little article I just had to laugh. "The EU is an Arctic entity." This according to EU rep. Fernando Garces. Presumably, this guy is from either Spain or know, those little European Arctic countries on the Iberian Peninsula. Austria..I've been through it, not Arctic. Ditto Belgium and Czech Republic. Italy and Greece? Definitely more Mediterranean than Arctic. Hungary...been there. In case European leaders are unaware, its a completely land-locked country...and no where near the Arctic or its waters. The EU IS NOT an Arctic entity, although they are very good at trying to weasel in and dictate to Northerners here in this country with all their ill-thought-out bans on everything from seal to polar bear products.

Let's see here....the European Union, as of 2007, has 27 member nations. And exactly how many of them could be termed "Arctic Nations"? Well, if you consider the circumpolar world as the land lying North of the 60th degree of latitude, then, sorry Europe, only two member nations meet this criteria: Sweden and Finland. And even then, both of these nations have territory lying south of 60 degrees North. I suppose I could include Denmark as the territory of Greenland most certainly can be classified as "Arctic", but Greenland withdrew from the organization in 1985. So much for solidarity.

The simple truth is that since the countries of Europe first became aware of the Arctic, their interests have been dictated by profit, exploitation and greed rather than any real altruistic tendencies. When it comes to the Canadian Arctic in particular, the EU's policies have shown nothing more than ignorance, selfishness and dare I say, outright racism. While Canada is far from perfect when it comes to our own portion of the Arctic, I like to think we have a better understanding than some politician from Slovakia or Malta.

I'm really sorry, EU. but if you really truly believe you are some some sort of Arctic entity, you need to go back to your high school geography classes.