letter to the editor334

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day The Canadian Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse and the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse…

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

The Canadian Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse and the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse have declared June 15, 2006, the First World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

The Yukon Council on Aging would like to join them in recognizing and raising awareness about this serious issue.

Senior/elder abuse is not new. It is like spousal abuse, child abuse and sexual abuse. It has always been there and is just now coming “out of the closet.”

Talking about it is the first step toward individual and community awareness.

Abuse can happen to any senior. Abused older people come from all social and ethnic backgrounds, all educational levels and all regions of Canada.

It does not happen only in institutions, it happens in the home as well.

Most abuse is perpetrated by someone the senior knows — a family member, friend, caregiver, landlord or staff in a facility.

Abuse and neglect of seniors/elders are thought to be seriously under reported and, since it is a new area of research, few statistics are available.

Most service providers and family members are not trained to spot abuse, and those who do are not sure where to report it or what they can do about it.

Recognizing and talking about ill treatment is a painful process for seniors. Some seniors may blame themselves for the abuse or for allowing the abuse.

If the abuser is the victim’s child, spouse or caregiver, they may not report it for fear of retaliation, abandonment or institutionalization.

Embarrassment and shame also play a role.

Victims themselves and family members who are aware of the abuse may consider the situation a private matter and refuse to report it.

The impact can be devastating — declining physical and mental health, depression and a profound sense of disempowerment and dejection — and can have a rippling effect throughout the community.

Awareness is the first step to solving this issue. Knowledge helps seniors retain control over their lives and reduces the risk of abuse.

Seniors need to know their rights. Seniors and caregivers in both home and institutions need to know about prevention and intervention strategies.

Community resources need to be in place to support these strategies.

In September 2005, the Yukon government passed the Adult Protection and Decision Making Legislation as a legal tool for protecting adults vulnerable to abuse and neglect due to disability, frailty, illness and age.

We hope the government will hold educational workshops in all Yukon communities to help seniors understand their rights and family and caregivers how they can legally ensure that their friends and love ones are not victims.

Awareness and support are the keys to preventing abuse.

Knowing how to detect, react or help can go a long way toward ensuring a senior’s safety.

It benefits the senior as well as any potential abuser who may be experiencing stress and finding it difficult to cope.

Abuse and neglect of older adults, at home or in institutions, is an issue that needs solutions involving all sectors of our society.

Each one of us must contribute to eliminating abuse to seniors/elders by repudiating all forms of violence, talking openly about the issue and working to build safe communities for all.

Nothing can justify abuse and neglect of the vulnerable members of our society.

Roberta Morgan, president, Yukon Council on Aging

Artists with a vision

Yukon Artists at Work was started by a few artists with a vision.

It was a vision to work co-operatively to create a venue where artists could show their work, some of which might be experimental in nature and not suitable for commercial galleries.

The vision also included making a positive, creative contribution to the larger community of Whitehorse and the Yukon.

In 2003, I was invited to be one of the founding members of Yukon Artists at Work and spent many evenings around the table figuring out what we wanted and how to go about making it a reality.

When a board was formed, I became Yukon Artists at Work’s  first secretary.

We initially intended to form a co-operative. Becoming a society was a much simpler process and, with so much to do just to get started, this seemed the easier route to take.

The appropriateness of being registered as a society has recently come into question and steps have been taken to change the organization’s status to a registered co-operative.

From the beginning, establishing the Yukon Artists at Work gallery required an enormous amount of work.

Visual artists are notorious for being independent thinkers who work primarily in solitude but the dream of an artist-run gallery has been and continues to be strong enough to override the inevitable “differences.”

As artists, like myself, have come and gone, Yukon Artists at Work has continued to evolve.

The fact that Yukon Artists at Work is thriving after three years is a testament to the passion, commitment, and hard work that all of the artists, from the beginning until now, have put into it.

The current exhibition at the Yukon Arts Centre is not only a dynamic, diverse sampling of work by Yukon artists but a tribute to this passionate effort.

It is with dismay and disappointment that I read that a few of the local galleries are questioning the appropriateness of the current Yukon Artists at Work show at the Yukon Arts Centre Gallery in the name of “a level playing field for all businesses.”

Instead of supporting our Yukon artists, it appears they are valuing economic gain over the well being of the individual and the community.

These values are pervasive in our modern world and I believe the root of many of our problems.

To choose undermining the efforts of Yukon Artists at Work rather than finding ways to support and work with it is small minded and a sad reflection of these local galleries.

On the other hand, I would like to thank those businesses that have spoken in support and appreciation for Yukon Artists at Work and the work it is doing.

Anne Macaire


Proliferating plebiscites

Whitehorse residents are going to the polls for a referendum vote on June 22 regarding Bylaw 2006-11.

Whitehorse mailed out a fact sheet this week that I urge readers to read.

Of particular concern to me, and the issue in this letter, is the number of plebiscites that taxpayers could be facing on an annual basis.

An estimated 20 plebiscites, in fact — one for every simple lot subdivision request, as well as larger subdivisions if the majority votes in favour of the Bylaw.

In a year when we have multiple elections- (federal, territorial, First Nation and municipal), voters tend to get annoyed at all the information campaigns, and many tend to “tune out.”

We recognize the dismal turnout at the election polls in recent years.

Imagine numerous plebiscites every year added to the mix. Is this what voters want?

Numerous people have indicated to me that they signed the petition without realizing the consequences of their actions, some with great embarrassment.

I urge the silent majority to read the fact sheet, ask questions on the implications, and bring four people with you to polls to vote no — or be called to the polls for plebiscites repeatedly each year.

Ask me about the referendum.


Bev Buckway

Whitehorse councillor