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Letter to the Editor

Author responds to critic Regarding Louise Freeman’s review of my book A Land Gone Lonesome, it’s not a crime to be tone deaf, the…

Author responds to critic

Regarding Louise Freeman’s review of my book A Land Gone Lonesome, it’s not a crime to be tone deaf, the problem comes when you represent yourself as a piano tuner.

It is a sin, however, to publish nonfiction while being careless with facts.

Freeman writes, “O’Neill distances himself from (John McPhee’s book Coming into the Country), not even mentioning it until Page 60.”

In an earlier review, she’d said I hadn’t mentioned it until page 83, so we’re getting much closer (it’s actually page 59).

I first bring up McPhee’s book the moment my canoe crosses into Alaska. It’s the first logical opportunity to do so, because I start my trip at Dawson, and McPhee didn’t write about Canada.

Freeman says I distance myself from it, but actually I go on gushing about it for 300 words, calling the book a “masterpiece.”

I mention McPhee incessantly thereafter — 40 times — until my editor grew weary of seeing the man’s name.

Freeman says I give a “lengthy and unflattering portrait of Dawson City.” I love the place! In five and a half pages, I covered Tagish Elvis, The Pit, Sour-toe Cocktails.

I don’t know about Louise Freeman, but I’m thinking: What’s not to like?

Freeman goes on; I shall not.

Dan O’Neill

Fairbanks, Alaska

Nonprofit feels

zapped by telco

YKNet recently discontinued dial-up service in the Yukon.

Northwestel ran advertisements about how they could fill this hole.

But now, in the absence of any real problem-solving help from our monopoly telephone provider, small, struggling not-for-profit societies in Dawson City are facing a 400-per-cent increase in their internet service charges.

For years, the Conservation Klondike Society, for one, enjoyed a dial-up service, slow and limited to be sure, but at $26 per month, one that was priced right.

Now, Northwestel says the society must purchase a high-speed, broadband, business service … at $99 plus tax per month.

The only alternative would be to run the society without internet access, a very hard thing to do in this day and age, but one which the society has had to choose.

For weeks Northwestel adverts ran in every copy of the Yukon News touting its range of services.

There is a lower-cost dial-up service, provided “in response to the needs of YKNet dial-up customers … in rural communities in the Yukon.”

This society fits that description. But this is service not available to non-profits.

When we phoned to request this service, we were told that if it was made available to our society, it would have to be available to others, too.

How many not-for-profit societies that were former YKnet dial-up-customers in rural communities in the Yukon are there?

Northwestel expects that they would create an unmanageable demand for their cheaper service. And we still don’t understand why that would be such a bad thing.

We’re not requesting a discount, only to be able to pay the full charge for a limited service, which is more appropriate to our needs.

We were told that Northwestel needs the business service rates to subsidize the residential rates.

How appropriate is it that these few not-for-profit organizations (and you know we must be small and poor because we were using YKNet dial-up!) are “subsidizers” in Northwestel’s books?

Another Dawson-based not-for-profit society is having to decide whether to operate without a fax machine, or an alarm system, in order to be able to pay for an internet service way beyond its needs and means.

No doubt there are other societies finding themselves in the same position.

Therefore we are requesting Northwestel review its restriction on making its dial-up StarterConnect service available to non-profits.

Please prove to us that Northwestel does indeed “support responsible, northern non-profit and charitable organizations,” through its business practices, not just through its Community Investment Program.

Kath Selkirk, co-ordinator, Conservation Klondike Society, Dawson City

When a cookie

 is just a cookie

Re Girl Guides walk a fine line to self esteem (the News, April 4):

I am writing in response to the article in the April 4th paper written by Juliann Fraser about Girl Guides and their cookie sales.

As I read the article I became more acutely aware of the lack of true understanding of the Girl Guide organization and great service the organization provides to young girls.

As a former Girl Guide and a mother who has a daughter enrolled in Brownies, I am proud of what this organization does for the women of tomorrow.

We need to understand that selling cookies to support this organization, or any other organization, is not done to make a global statement but rather enable programs to be offered to as many individuals as possible by offering lower enrollment fees.

Girl Guides sets out to help grow and shape the minds of young girls to be more self confident, to have greater self esteem and to teach them how to become better humans.

As a parent I agree that the cookies could be made with better ingredients, such as removing trans fats, however the sale and/or consumption of a cookie is not a global statement for eating unhealthy but rather a treat to be enjoyed occasionally.

As I took my daughter door-to-door selling cookies, there were many people who did actually say, “No thank you” and I am sure they are not wrought with guilt for saying so.

They have enough self-esteem to stand up for what they believe in and my daughter has enough manners and respect to say, “Thank you, have a nice night.”

As a woman I also appreciate the Dove program for True Beauty because the message being sent to women of all ages is that you can be happy with yourself even if you do not conform to society’s view that women need to be a size 0 to be happy or accepted.

It is more important to be true to yourself, and to not change just to make someone else happy.

I hope my daughter takes with her many of the empowering messages that the Girl Guide program sends and is able to use them as she grows into a strong, independent woman.

By the lack of true understanding by columnist Fraser it appears that she was never a part of any organization that had to do some form of fundraising, otherwise she would not have take such an opposing position to an innocent method of raising monies.

The Girl Guides are not begging for money; they are not fundraising through the promotion of gambling or lotteries.

Does Fraser feel that we should boycott fundraisers for raffle tickets for cars because they pollute the environment?

What about the wonderful chocolate-covered almonds that are sold for countless sporting teams — because of nut allergies that some people suffer from?

They are merely selling a treat and everyone has the right and ability to say, “No thanks” without condemnation or judgment, which obviously is not the same consideration that has been given to these little girls.

My suggestion is for Fraser to find another cause to use as her launching pad to solve the problems of the world because attacking little girls is not the way to achieve it.

Tanya Bishop

Via website