Letter to the Editor

Wait for the evidence Over the past few days there have been several news reports, letters to the editor and open line shows criticizing the Yukon…

Wait for the evidence

Over the past few days there have been several news reports, letters to the editor and open line shows criticizing the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health & Safety Board’s decision to pursue charges against a local geological company.

Before anyone, whether they are employed by the company involved or the YWCH&SB, is convicted of negligence, incompetence or abuse of authority, perhaps we should wait until the evidence has been presented in a court of law (as opposed to conjecture in the court of public opinion).

While we wait for that process to conclude, instead of focusing on speculation of what may or may not have occurred, we (employers and workers)should take the opportunity to re-examine potential workplace hazards, wherever that may be, and make certain that all practical steps are taken to eliminate or reduce those hazards and ensure worker safety.

Alex Furlong, president, Yukon Federation of Labour, Whitehorse

Protected areas

slow climate change

We have three important national parks in the Yukon. All are either mainly rock and ice, or north where the permafrost lies.

We have a palate of parks and protected areas, each hard-fought for and protecting valuable habitats and wildlife, but some of which are the size of postage stamps.

And we have a vast expanse of still-pristine, but unprotected northern boreal region and a long line of governments spending a lot of money to find industrial developers to change them … and not for the better, according to a majority of Yukoners who, in poll after poll, overwhelmingly support the creation of more protected areas.

Around the world and here in Canada, scientists are standing up to tell us we need to protect habitat to help slow the effects of climate change, and the boreal region is the Canadian habitat that most needs protecting.

The boreal is North America’s lungs — using, not producing, carbon dioxide, cleaning our air and cleaning our water through its network of wetlands, lakes, marshes and bogs.

It is the source of our freshwater.

The boreal is breeding grounds for plants, animals and birds — the Canadian canvas upon which the intricate web of life can continue.

Fortunately (because these things take time), the effort to protect the Peel Watershed, which encompasses the Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume Rivers and lies north of Mayo, Yukon and south of Ft. McPherson, NWT, has been going on for more than a decade.

The Peel is northern boreal at its finest.

Years of inventory, research and reports, basement slideshows, discussions with communities, politicians, bureaucrats, industry and the general public led to 10 years of education and awareness-building on where the Peel Watershed is and why it is important.

This, in turn, culminated in the 2003 Three Rivers Journey, which saw three groups of nationally-respected artists, writers and journalists, community members and youth travel down three rivers of the watershed to experience the importance of these rivers firsthand and then meet, speak and feast with leaders, elders and politicians in a gathering on the banks of the Peel.

Thus began the real rallying cry of communities not only in the Yukon — but as writers and artists went home to do their work — across the nation.

That journey spawned a nationally-touring art exhibit, an award-nominated book, an award-winning short film, articles in national papers and magazines, a western Canada tour, Yukon community tours and several local events.

It recently metamorphosed into a 12-stop cross-Canada tour that sold out in Montreal, Ottawa, St. John’s, Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Yellowknife … and is coming home to Whitehorse on Thursday to present the best of the best of the tour: new images to inspire summer travels from all three rivers and the Hart River too; the reactions and results from thousands of Canadians who saw the show and care about what happens in the North; and the results of the work of First Nation communities here in the Yukon, especially those most affected by protection or development in the Peel Watershed.

This is a night to celebrate, support and sign on to the possibility of protecting a large pristine, impossible-to-replace part of the Yukon.

The Coming Home party of the 12-stop, cross-country, sold-out Journey to the Yukon’s Three Rivers is Thursday, May 17, 7:30 p.m. at the High Country Inn.

There will be live music, great raffles and art for sale, a cash bar and munchies.

Theresa Gulliver, CPAWS-Yukon, Whitehorse

The bear facts

What is the reason or reasons expressed by the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board to justify charges being laid against Aurora Geoscience relating to the untimely death of the young surveyor by a mother bear with cubs last year?

If your initial response to this question contains the words policy, procedure or protocol, then you would be better served to read no further.

That is to say, if someone from your office has this immediate reaction in public or in private, then you have already established yourself as a bot program. For you, there is no reasoning.

I don’t recall ever seeing something so black and white. The risk here rests with the individual. How can this not be fundamentally applied and implied in this case?

Given the circumstances how can anything legal even be considered?

Where do we all live and work?

How is there a vessel in place to even bring such a charge?

This is equivalent to a local workers’ compensation board stationed off a coast charging an employer because one of their employees was killed by a shark while working in the ocean.

While writing this, I kept asking myself why I was even surprised by the lack of common sense being shown by the WCB in charging this exploration company and then it occurred to me.

I remembered hearing and reading another statement by an official somewhat higher up the food chain declaring to the entire world that “outfitters are the stewards of the land.”

Needless to say, my astonishment to these outlandish charges vanished.

I may yet submit the quote mentioned and the whole story of this bear attack to the annual Darwin Awards — entitled: Systemic schizophrenia, as shared contestants for the prestigious honor.

The blame in this case falls on coincidence — or to put it in cliché terms, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Based on the distance covered by the bear in all reports it would have made no difference whether a gun was present of not. He was within feet of a den he could not or did not see.

The attack would have seemed to break the speed of light. There would be no time to raise the gun let alone get a bullet in the chamber, aim and shoot.

Experience would have been irrelevant. It’s that one-in-a-million freak accident.

Self preservation would have made me carry a 12-gauge as an individual choice, but I would have been dead too.

Charging Aurora now looks like a modern-day witch hunt or act of revenge, similar to the killing of the bears.

I’ll end this rant with a few words published by a spokesperson from the office in question: “It’s worth noting that none of the charges are related to the bear’s behaviour.”

What matrix do these people come from or reside in? I can’t imagine what its like to be their mind.

Kevin Sinclair

Marsh Lake

Disappointed Stripes fan

June 25th’s upcoming show at the Yukon Arts Centre will be nothing short of amazing; the centre is the smallest venue on the White Stripes tour and the acoustics in the building will probably be better than most shows they will play in North America.

Unfortunately, for me and many other Stripes fans in the city, we won’t be able to get into the arts centre on June 25th.

Even after camping out outside the box office for more than 14 hours last Thursday, I went home empty-handed.

People who were there hours before me were in the same boat when the show sold out in less than 12 minutes.

Why? Hard to say actually.

Did House of Blues make a mistake in booking one of the biggest current acts in the world at a venue with a capacity of less than 450?

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that.

Did they make a mistake in setting the limit of tickets purchased by one person at eight?

YES … not even the first 20 people in each lineup at arts underground and the YAC box office were lucky enough to walk away with tickets.

A little bit of thought could have gone into the process of purchasing tickets on part of House of Blues.

Should they take into account the hundreds of disappointed fans and move to a larger venue?

If they did they would easily be able to sell a couple thousand more tickets and possibly increase the White Stripes fan base, but the quality of the show would be compromised.

Whether I am going or not does not change the fact that the White Stripes decided on its own to tour each province and territory in Canada.

It is exposing itself to new audiences and playing places all over the world that would be considered unconventional (and unprofitable) to most other bands.

Everyone in attendance should realize how privileged they are to see this amazing band in such an intimate space.

If you are a fan and are lucky enough to have a ticket, enjoy the show.

If you’re not a fan and have a ticket, I’m jealous, but I hope you walk out of there wanting more.

I know the show will be a success and, hopefully, the Stripes enjoy themselves, the audience and the arts centre so much that they want to return.

Ryan Cumming

Whitehorse