Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bomb Threat

I'd be interested in hearing back from any Iqaluit bloggers after catching wind of bomb threat at a city hotel. The story caught my attention for two reasons. First, this is the first time I've heard of a situation quite like this. I could be wrong since I never lived in Iqaluit during my time in Nunavut, although I went through the place many times of course. I'd like to think that a story like this is simply something you file under the category of "weird news" rather than something more sinister. Someone's stupid prank I'm sure. To my knowledge, Iqaluit doesn't get that many bomb threats over the course of a year. I recall an incident a few years back where the high school was evacuated after some twit started a small fire in a bathroom stall.

The second reason the story caught my attention is that I stayed at this very hotel several times since it was built when over-nighting in Iqaluit. I'll keep my nose to the ground and see if anything else happens with this story. Likely just someone with too much free time on their hand. A bomb threat in Iqaluit is like a bomb threat against the bridge in Campbellford, Ontario where I grew up - it catches your attention but the odds of it being anything more than a threat are quite small.

The Great Womanizer And A Great Theatre



This post really has nothing to do with the Arctic but I thought I'd do it anyway simply because of my interest in music. Today marks the anniversary of the premiere of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni. Not only was Don Giovanni my first opera experience but I had the opportunity to see it in the very theatre where it was premiered in Prague. While Don Giovanni isn't my favorite Mozart opera (that distinction would go to Die Zauberflote), I found myself in Prague a couple summers ago and simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to see a performance. Only a pending train trip to Brussels prevented me from a second viewing.



The Estates Theatre is a real gem. It's original appearance has changed very little since its construction and to my knowledge, it is the only remaining theatre left standing where Mozart performed. I went all out with my ticket, getting a box seat just one balcony over from where Emperor Leopold II would have sat. For one evening the history bug in me was well satiated as I was transported back to another place and time.

All in all a fantastic way to spend a midsummer's eve.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Big "To Do" List

I keep a "to do" list handy in my day planner. Nothing fancy...usually just a sticky note (my work place seems to have a healthy supply on hand) with all the day's priorities in need of attention. For the most part, I'm good at keeping on top of things. I've only been behind because I moved and changed employment over the summer so there were times when I thought my "to do" list would never end. I suspect I'm not alone in this regard though.

A week ago I mentioned that the Government of Nunavut had undertaken a review of how things were working (or not working) now that the territory is 10 years old. Since I'm still on my old MLA's mailing list, I received a copy of the press release in my inbox this morning along with a link to an article from Nunatsiaq News which I've copied and pasted below.

The GN has quite the "to do " list on its plate. It makes my little lists pale in comparison. I wish them all the best. They have a formidable task ahead of them.

Nunavut MLAs flesh out the GN’s to-do list

“It’s never been done like this before”

JIM BELL
Nunavut MLAs emerged Oct. 26 from a week’s worth of full caucus meetings to announce the priorities that will soon form the basis of a detailed action plan for the Government of Nunavut.
“It’s never been done like this before — we could have done it with cabinet only but it was critical to get input from all our members, ” Premier Eva Aariak said.
Between Oct. 20 and Oct. 23, regular MLAs and cabinet ministers sat down to study the recently-released Qanukkanniq Report Card to help them figure out how to carry out the Tamapta mandate statement they issued this past April 1.
Aariak said the exercise was a “historical” process that now allows her government to move forward with a program that comes directly from the people of Nunavut.
In a statement released Oct. 26, MLAs say they agreed to be guided by three core principles: self-reliance, open communication, and service to the public.
Then they set out a list of tasks to be done over the three-year period between now and the next election:
• ensure the government fully implements the new Education Act, Official Languages Act and Inuit Language Protection Act;
• develop strategies to combat poverty and increase the supply of housing;
• review the public housing rent scale and the income support program to remove disincentives to entering the workforce and help income support recipients gain skills;
• do a “functional review” of decentralization;
• introduce a new Child and Family Services Act within the life of the current legislative assembly;
• create “an independent position to represent and articulate the needs of children and youth;”
• introduce a new Liquor Act;
• strengthen the performance of the education system and create more daycare options for parents;
• improve the basic tools available to government employees to improve service to the public, including the GN’s financial, human resources, business planning and communications services;
• improve business climate by fostering better alternative energy, transportation and telecommunications;
• continued support for meeting the objectives of Article 23, while fixing capacity and performance gaps in the civil service and remaining committed to “a training culture that seeks to build a service-oriented, professional and culturally respectful service.”
Aariak said MLAs reached “full consensus” on most of the issues they discussed, and that no members were surprised by the findings of the Qanukkanniq team.
“One of the arguments I heard was ‘why are doing this, we know this already,” Aariak said.
She said the next step will be the production of a detailed action plan based on the consensus that MLAs reached last week.
To that end, Nunavut deputy ministers began meeting on the morning of Oct. 26 to create the action plan and to co-ordinate that work with planning related to the GN’s budget and departmental business plans.
“They now have clear direction from the government,” Aariak said.
In social policy, MLAs appear to agree there are limits to what government can do.
“Government programs and services play an important role in the life of our territory. However, members of the Legislative Assembly recognized that is ultimately healthy families and communities that provide a truly sustainable foundation for building our children’s future,” Akulliq MLA John Ningark, the chair of the full caucus, said in the Oct. 26 assembly release.
MLAs also reaffirmed their belief in the future of Nunavut by reiterating the “declaration of confidence” contained in the Tamapta mandate document: “We believe in Nunavut. We have hope for its vibrant future, built by our people pursuing their dreams.”

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Small World

And now for a little lighter fare. While out furniture shopping not too long ago in Lac La Biche I bumped into a person from Fort Smith, where I started my teaching career. I mentioned that me and my girlfriend were new to the area and that I had worked all over the north. When he asked for some specific places, I rattled off a few. He stopped me when I mentioned Fort Smith. Turns out the salesman had spent some time there as an assistant manager of the Northern Store and our tenures roughly overlapped. I actually knew the manager there quite well as I had his son in my class. I worked with the manager's wife at the high school and at the end of the year we ended up moving on to other places with our careers.

This was the first time I had met someone from so far back in my career. Not only did I buy a nice living room set but we a good deal of time catching up on things. One of the things that continues to fascinate me about the North is that even though it is quite large geographically, people-wise there is a level of intimacy and camaraderie that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah...I Smell A Photo Op

While I was out for lunch with the family, I happened upon a copy of the Edmonton Sun with a story about Pamela Anderson flapping her gums, and other assets, over the seal hunt. I considered blogging about the article but didn't have an online version of the story until a cousin of mine passed one along to me via Facebook this afternoon.

I mean honestly, does anyone believe this bimbo has anything productive to say? Note to Pamela Anderson....clue in...you're the embarrassment to Canada. You support an organization that claims it has nothing against subsistence hunting in the North but the very actions that people like this support are hampering good people from making a living. If you really cared about Canada, you would care about all Canadians....not just the rich turds that live in Hollywood or Vancouver.

Yoo hoo, Pamela, clue in.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Much To Be Done

Shortly after Nunavut's last territorial election (roughly a year ago), the new Premier, Eva Aariak, promised a review of how the government was serving (or not serving) Nunavummiut. Unfortunately, I left the territory before this report was released but came across this Globe and Mail article this afternoon.
As Townie Bastard mentions, ignore the comments section of the Globe article. I always find the comments section tells you more about the ignorance of the person making the comment than it does about the actual issues involved. I won't comment much other than to say that Education, Employment, Housing and Mental Health services should be priorities. Cutting down on government sloth and largesse would also be nice. It took a ridiculous amount of time before the Education Department was able to fulfill a request to forward some work-related information I needed on to my new employer in Alberta.

For those with a political bent, you can read through the report's recommendations here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

MLA Blasts "Social Passing" Policy in N.W.T.

As an educator, this CBC story about social passing caught my attention. Having taught in 3 provinces and 2 territories over the course of my career this is phenomenon is definitely not unique to the Northwest Territories. All I can say is that in my experience, "social passing" simply doesn't work. I've seen no real evidence of it and proponents of it always give the same old tired line of how its best for the student to be with their peers rather than being held back. They claim there is research advocating "social passing" as the best option but never cite the research.

I won't say anything further other than education works best when you have teachers, parents and students working together. Clearly, in many educational districts across this country, we are a long way from this ideal.

Animal Rights Activist....Yeesh

You know, I truly don't get the logic of some people. Long time readers of this blog will know I am no friend of animal rights militants. This post doesn't change this. Hunting polar bears is wrong according to these people. BUT within 10 years, the Arctic will be ice free. Seems to me the bigger threat isn't hunting but habitat loss. But they want to end the polar bear trade, and by extension, polar bear hunting. Makes perfect sense to me.

I seriously doubt the polar bear population will be gone in a decade. In fact, there are many elders and much traditional knowledge to support the argument that populations are stable. A ban makes no sense. I've mentioned in the past how these bans only serve to devastate the economies of small Arctic communities. For the people who whine about Nunavut (or any other small community with a predominantly subsistence economy) being unsustainable, keep this in mind if you support these animal rights activists. Hey, it's okay to take a side. Just try to be consistent in your logic.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Think I'll Have The Chicken

Combing the internet for some northern news, I came across this story of a turkey I'd rather not bite into. I'd like to think that this news item is something quirky - the kind that falls under the category of "weird news". Having spent 4 years in Arctic Bay, the community mentioned in this story, I can vouch that, sadly, this is a reality when it comes to the costs of food prices. The outlandish costs of food are something that I've blogged out before.

As suspected, Stage Left also picked up on the story.

For anyone thinking "boo hoo, those little northern places aren't sustainable anyway so really, they shouldn't get all up in arms over this", I would simply ask this - Are larger communities any more sustainable? How much money did government hand out when major corporations and banks failed as the economy bottomed out over the past year? Something tells me that this amount pales in comparison to the money Northern communities receive.

In the end, what this really boils down to, is not a question of sustainability, but rather a question of social justice. I hope politicians of all stripes bear this in mind as they sit down to a nice (presumably much less expensive) turkey dinner this evening.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Newbies

Since I began blogging in Nunavut, I've seen some good blogs come and go. A few blogs I used to read religiously have left the territory and I try to keep up with them as much as I'm able to. It seems my own little blog is dying a slow death given the time restraints I find myself under with the new job...plus not being in Nunavut anymore, I find myself a little out of the loop as to goings-on around the territory.

Nevertheless, I thought I'd mention a few new Nunavut blogs I've happened across, courtesy of Townie Bastard. Check them out if you wish.

Northernbound Nurse, blogging out of Arviat.

The Arctic Post, blogging out of Chesterfield Inlet.

Newbie in the North and Pangnirtung Bound, both blogging from the very scenic community of Pangnirtung, and well worth a trip there if you ever get the chance to do it, I might add.