Letter to the Editor

Shades of truth and poverty Everyone, it seems, has a version of the truth. Premier Dennis Fentie claims there is affordable housing available in…

Shades of truth

and poverty

Everyone, it seems, has a version of the truth.

Premier Dennis Fentie claims there is affordable housing available in the Yukon and more public funds are forthcoming.

Social Services Minister Brad Cathers believes the programs are already in place to address many issues, and social assistance rates (no increase since 1992) are under an extensive review.

Many groups argue, persuasively, that what exists at present is unacceptable and offends individual rights and the human spirit.

Studies have documented poverty and homelessness for a long time.

Periodically there are some improvements and fewer Canadians are under the poverty line.

Still, trends are not very encouraging and the scandal of child poverty gets worse. Some of you may remember the promise from the Liberals in Ottawa to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000!

So, everyone has a piece of the truth.

The challenge is to bring these pieces together to create a ‘truth quilt’ so we can all move forward with dignity and hope, and get rid of poverty and homelessness.

This is not going be done by each stakeholder holding on to their piece of the truth.

We must continue to document the extent of poverty and human suffering, respect personal experience and push forward towards solutions.

This is the ‘outer’ work, all very important and very necessary.

What about the ‘inner’work?

Without such work, I believe stable and humane solutions don’t exist.

Inner work may begin by asking the question: What do I feel about the issue?

What are my intentions?

How do my personal values play out in the existence of poverty?

Does anything happen to me if one more person is added to the poverty roll?

What would happen if instead of avoiding a homeless person, I focused my gaze on him for a moment or two?

Who would I see?

These questions are not meant to generate feelings of guilt. That’s a misreading of inner work.

They are meant to open the heart.

What does your heart say?

There is another inner work question.

What do we think about the issue?

Father Claude, at a recent Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition news conference, said the proposal for a food bank in Whitehorse is not just about charity. It is about justice and community.

We would do well to explore such issues, so our hearts can rest awhile.

Finally, what did Saint Paul say?

We know things only partially.

Knowledge will fall in time. Prophecy (knowledge of the future) will fall in time.

Love will never go out of existence.

For the present then, three things matter: believing, hoping and loving.

But supreme is loving.

How about exploring that as a community?

There is much inner work to be done.

May we all find the courage to carry on in this wonderful place called the Yukon.

Bill Thomas


Digging deeper

Open letter re the McLean Lake quarry site requested by Territorial Contracting:

I do not understand why the squatters are so opposed to this essential service setting up shop in a quarry area.

If they wanted this to be a park-like environment, what are they doing living there themselves? Slashing down trees to access their property, having dogs that defecate freely about the area, running chain saws that spew chain-bar oil all over the place and the noise.

What about the lack of a sewer system in the area?

This byproduct of human beings has been leaching into this system since these squatters claimed their free parcels of land.

If you have a computer and look at the area on Google Earth you will see a chain of quarries on either side of the Alaska Highway.

It was not that long ago there was the hustle and bustle of the Whitehorse copper mine. Do these people not realize that they are within the limits of a changing and growing city?

Look at the Hamilton Boulevard extension and the Raven Ridge development adjacent to the McIntyre creek area.

Wherever you have urban growth you are going to have to make sacrifices that do not always please everyone. In city planning you have to agree to designate areas for residential, industrial, greenbelt and, in this case, quarry land.

It is not like this type of activity has not already been going on in this area.

Just take a drive up the McLean Lake Road and have a look for yourself.

Make sure that you watch out for gravel trucks travelling back and forth hauling product to areas about the city under development or improvement at the request of the taxpayers who live in the city.

The people of Whitehorse who have bought houses and pay taxes are entitled to have sidewalks, curbs, gutters and asphalt (not to be confused with a product made by a concrete batch plant which was mislead by a certain association).

So why not let this locally owned company set up shop in a quarry area where it is supposed to be and move on to more serious matters?

Dave Barrett