Letter to the Editor

Youth matter more than a bumpy road A couple of Fridays ago, the Yukon News featured an article begging for a permanent youth shelter.

Youth matter more

than a bumpy road

A couple of Fridays ago, the Yukon News featured an article begging for a permanent youth shelter.

That was followed by an article about YTG’s $31,000,000 “mining subsidy” on the next page.

The obvious disparity — no money for something direly needed now, millions for something that isn’t — might strike readers and politicians. But does it?

Are we all so numb as to how our money gets spent that tens of millions can be doled out to upgrade a highway “to sustain significant mine traffic” without a public peep, yet a drop-in-the-bucket investment to enhance and even save disengaged young lives will require massive public outpouring of support?

Once again, the angels at the Youth of Today Society are trying to do the “right thing” for disenfranchised youth — they are trying to get them a permanent shelter and life-skills programing.

It wasn’t long ago that their Roadhouse venture fell through for lack of funding. The project housed and trained up to 18 youth each month.

What an opportunity lost — the Youth of Today Society would not only have continued to house homeless youth and assisted them in improving their futures, but have gained a valuable piece of real estate near the waterfront. What a deal!

Too bad it wasn’t appropriate for the territorial government to help raise the $250,000 needed to keep the project going.

But $31,000,000 freely given to reinforce the transportation infrastructure for private industry or a couple of million dollars for a feasibility study for a railroad? No problem!

If we can invest in industry for our future, can’t we invest in young people who are the future?

Some of these kids are going to cost the public a fortune through welfare, incarceration, and psychiatric help if we don’t get on with helping them now.

The Youth of Today Society needs to raise $425,000 to purchase the Hide on Jeckell Hostel by September 1st (there needs to be a deadline as the sale has been pending for months).

It would be nice if YTG would invest in a long-term solution — it would rather continue to dole out a drop at a time in a very ad hoc and short-term manner.

So it’s up to us, the public. Let’s get these kids a better future! Please support the Angel’s Nest campaign this month —help the Youth of Today Society get youth off the street and into a home!

Please buy a puzzle piece, buy pieces for friends (don’t forget to enter the draw for prizes), drop off a donation to the Blue Feather Youth Centre, and hound our elected representatives!

Go to www.road2angels.com and challenge a friend, politician, government office, or a business to ante up through the corporate challenge link.

Auction stuff online at YTbay (Youth of Today EBay). Let’s show these kids the Yukon cares!

Carole Tootill

Whitehorse

Just what was the mauling inquiry about anyway?

On the 28th of April 2006, our son, Jean François Pagé, died near Ross River when he was attacked by a female grizzly bear while he was staking a claim for Aurora Geosciences Ltd.

In the ensuing months, the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board took proceedings against the company, as the inquiry seemed to indicate negligence.

On June 2, the Crown attorney put an end to the proceeding on the basis of recently received secret information.

We, as members of Jean François’ family, were not directly involved in these proceedings, but they have had important repercussions on us.

First of all, we lose our son/brother in a terrible accident. We mourn his death without anger and contempt.

Then the WCB tells us that the investigation seems to indicate negligence on the part the company. Could our son/brother still be with us if the company had acted differently?

We begin doubting, our sorrow is rekindled. Nonetheless, we decide to wait for the court’s decision. But, for reasons still unexplained, the proceedings are suspended.

This time, we are angry … not against the blow from fate, not against the WCB, not against the company, but against this strange mystery which robs us of an answer.

What should we think? Many unanswered questions disturb us deeply.

Why did it take a whole year and a half to put an end to these proceedings?

What about the substantial expenses incurred by these proceedings? Why did the WCB conduct this prosecution in the first place?

Was there really negligence on the part of the company? Or did the WCB wanted to legitimate its purpose in the eyes of the population and the company’s?

Should it have been more active in the field? What is this information that caused the stay of these proceedings, so important for the workplace, employers and employees alike?

It is our belief that the good reputation of the institutions is fundamental to ensure a good social and economic equilibrium. In this case, there is no transparency; any information that puts an end to proceedings must be made public.

It is a matter of credibility and respect. In this case, one is left with nothing but many negative hypotheses, even troubling hypotheses.

Here, there is a blatant disregard for the ordinary workers, like Jean François, who are the ones who, by the risks they take in the field, allow the companies and the territory to develop themselves.

Was there any justice for Jean François, for the forest workers and the mine workers of Yukon? Was there any justice for the company?

 Of course, the coroner made some recommendations, but will their implementation be left solely and entirely to the goodwill of the employers? Who will supervise their implementation?

Who is the winner in this case? Apparently, nobody. Not the WCB. Not Justice. Not Aurora Geosciences Ltd. Not the workers, and not Jean François, who was one of them.

We are appalled by this outcome that we know to be irrevocable.

We were not looking for somebody to blame; we just wanted light to be shed on this fatal accident. And most of all, we want Jean François’ soul to rest in peace.

The Yukon seems like a promised land where everyone can find his own path and participate in its development — if only it will keep its promises.

Ginette Chamberland

Via e-mail

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