The Globe and Mail's Trials of Nunavut series was warmly received by readers, many of whom left thoughtful comments on Patrick White's main story and any number of the features attached to our multimedia presentation.
Here are the top 10 highest rated comments by our readers as voted by you:
Phil B: Well done, G&M. This is the most substantive piece I've seen in a long time. I would have liked to see this saved until after the election so that it gets the attention it deserves. Thanks for not offering simple solutions or making these issues crassly political. That being said, this article certainly puts our $15 billion+ fighter jets into perspective. Instead of swinging at cold war shadows, we should be dealing with the very real, very pressing social crisis in the arctic. At the very, very least, the feds could partner with Nunavut on an addiction treatment centre. Can Ms. Aglukkaq not find any money for mental health in her riding?
the mind in its own place: The only thing unique about this situation is the climate. The same story has unfolded, sometimes even more tragically, everywhere Europeans came in contact with Neolithic societies. What should they have done? Ignore these societies and not permit contact with the modern world? This would have been condemned as the worst sort of racism - we would just be treating the people like the fauna of wilderness reserves. Engage these societies in the modern world? Again, we would be considered guilty of cultural genocide, which is the road we've taken. There was no win-win option once these two worlds came into contact.
That said, if the Inuit are not Canadians, then none of us are. They must have roles of responsibility in the Arctic. There should be a Coast Guard HQ up there, complete with real icebreakers, a Canadian Forces HQ, a Search-and Rescue HQ, and training facilities so that they can have access to these vital jobs and serve their territory and their country. Arctic research centre, Centre for high-latitude medicine, there are lots of possibilities that are not simple and degrading make-work programs.
Those who opened the Pandora's box must be the ones to close it.
rrafay08: This is an amazing piece. Good Job.
The article insinuates however that the communities in Nunavut were somehow healthy at some point. They never were. They were doomed from the time the Canadian government forced a nomadic people to settle and forced them to be Christian and remain settled rather than free reign to be nomadic.
Aslo, stop comparing the Arctic to the rest of Canada. It IS a developing country. All of Canada's Arctic 50,000 people if you take out Whitehorse and Yellowknife. A group of 50,000 spread over an area larger than India, with a harsher climate than pretty much anywhere else on earth poses problems. They will NEVER have a lifestyle like the rest of Canada.
I live in Canada's Arctic.
7370 Km to the East: Very good feature. I hope a lot of Canadians read this. I worked up in Nunavut for only a few months, and I study Arctic Sovereignty...as far as the region goes, there is so much talk about the obvious- international law and resources (and of course the odd reactionary proclaiming that the region will blow up into an arms race, and conflict). Yet we don't hear enough about the citizens who are up there. Citizens that most Canadians have a problem not only placing, but identifying. There is a culture up there, and even a nation. Yet it's failing in its current state. We need to start talking more about helping the people, because there is no better way to claim our sovereignty over the Canadian Arctic and Northwest Passage, than by including the caretakers of the region and its environment into our successful society, and doing it by respecting who they have always been, not what we want them to be.
Good job, this is the kind of important feature that deserves attention.
Winston Churchill: Very good article.
Read an interesting op ed piece once about social engineering. Argument was that it always fails. Other extended that to nation building abroad, and asked the question if, after a century of trying in Cape Breton, centuries of trying with the native population, and a generation with the Innuit, after the commitment of infinitely vast resources targeted at small populations, we have hugely failed, what makes us think we can achieve anything like success when trying to change Somalia or Afghanistan?
I'm a supporter of overseas missions, but that's a good question, and one we have to engage. What we are doing, it isn't working.
J P J H: What an interesting piece! Well done!
Deborah S: An excellent, extremely interesting report - congratulations to Patrick White and the G&M editors. I have not spared more than a few thoughts for the problems of Nunavut, and until I read this, did not know even the half of it.
It's pretty appalling that this situation exists in Canada - a third-world country contained within one of the world's most liveable places. The reservations around Calgary, where I live, have their share of problems and it seems that there is a growing movement to take responsibility for their own communities, hoping to put an end to handouts from the government. But their issues, I think, pale in compariosn to what Nunavut is dealing with. It's horrendous. Thank you for such a substantive, well-researched, well-written article.
Mike Baker, Iqaluit: How about that! This is the G&M's second article in a year that portrays the Iqaluit I've come to know in the three years since I moved here. Of all the southern perspectives I've read, in this paper or in papers from around the world, too many of them are superficial travel pieces ideal for giving the south a level of comfort about this place that 99% of Canadians will never visit.
It's not all bad; the territory's natural beauty is stunning. One can stand aghast before its barren landscapes under the summer's midnight sun; or the severe howling winds that whip up ground snow and challenge the structural integrity of our homes. At times like these, I know I am in a special place. I put plenty of pictures up on a webshare for the benefit of family and friends from around the globe, with many captions reiterating the site's theme "Impossible Nunavut; Unlikely Iqaluit" (with all due apologies to Jeff Tweedy). This is Canada too.
The author of this series of articles has put his back into this effort. I wish more writers of his skill and tenacity could demystify the story of Our Land. I've also been an avid reader of Jim Bell's editorials in the Nunatsiaq News from the very first day I travelled up to Baffin on Paddy's Day 2008. My advice to the G&M: Seek Mr. Bell's guidance when it comes to recounting Nunavut's story; or let him write it for you; or just say no to fluffy travel pieces disguised as hard journalism.
I can't say for how many more years I'll call Iqaluit home, but if it ever comes time for me to leave it for good, I know it will be one of most difficult days of my life. Problems and wonders and all, once Nunavut imposes itself at the epicentre of one's own internal universe - as it has for me - all other of life's challenges get subjected non-negotiably to proper perspective.
FredHustle: Both Patrick White and Peter Power, along with the Globe & Mail staff who sent them to Nunavut, are to be congratulated.
As most other ordinary readers of this, I too don't have solutions. But I am grateful for the opportunity to be made aware of the realities of life for all who live and work there. What a hard hitting bit of journalism that raises so many questions. The best article on the north in a very long time. Long overdue.
Hopefully it will raise enough alarm bells for action. Whatever that may be.
Policy Wonk: A very good descriptive account of life in Nunavut.
Even before the split with the NWT, what is now Nunavut was struggling with many of the same issues. I know from first-hand experience because I lived there for over 4 years, first in Iqaluit and then in Cambridge Bay. Mr. Peterson was one of my neighbours.
While you cannot solve problems simply by throwing money at them, it is also a sure bet that thing will not change if there are no financial resources made available either.
Nunavut's financial problems can be traced back to the creation of the territory. At the time of division the existing expenditures of the eastern and western arctic regions were determined and split accordingly. Both Nunavut and the NWT received small amounts of transition funding from Ottawa, but the real or true financial needs of each territory were never determined through zero-based budget analysis. Ottawa shirked its duty to provide adequate funding then, as it continues to do to this day.
The NWT had the benefit of a more established economy and then the development of a diamond mining industry to sustain itself. But Nunavut did not have anything quite so spectacular. Diamond and gold mines may yet flourish in Nunavut, but until there is devolution the royalty revenues will continue to flow to Ottawa, not Iqaluit.
Mr. Peterson will never have enough financial resources to address all of Nunavut's issues unless Ottawa significantly increases the transfer payments. Even with the devolution of resource revenues Nunavut will not have near enough resources. The needs are too great, and the ability of the Nunavut government to sustain itself on limited economic activity is not sustainable.
Sooner or later Canada will have to address the social and economic problems in Nunavut. Might as well start now by significantly increasing the financial resources available to the Government of Nunavut so they can begin the healing process.