letter to the editor355

Food bank needed The Yukon does not have a food bank. There are food programs available in Whitehorse that will offer hot meals and emergency food…

Food bank needed

The Yukon does not have a food bank.

There are food programs available in Whitehorse that will offer hot meals and emergency food services but there is no bona fide food bank here.

A food bank offers vegetables, fruit, meat, milk and eggs as well as other complementary services.

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition has been doing a number of consultations with people who live in poverty. They are telling us that their number one priority is a food bank.

If you are living in poverty or have lived in poverty, come and join us.

If you are an MLA, city councilor, mayor or premier (decision-maker) then come and join us.

If you are working in the field, or have any interest in this issue at all — please come join us.

Come talk about what we can do together to address this need at the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition annual general meeting on Thursday, May 11th from 5 to 7 p.m. in the United Church basement — at the end of Main Street.

This is a potluck affair so bring what you can.

Everyone is very welcome.

Ross Findlater, Melissa Craig, Sue Edelman

Co-chairs, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, Whitehorse

Farmers misunderstood

I read with interest Gregory Heming’s article about Canadian farmers in the April 12 edition.

Obviously he wasn’t raised on a farm, most certainly not a Canadian one, or he would not have written it.

The central concept of this piece seems to be that Canadian farmers are lazy, and couldn’t wait for those sophisticated tractors and harvesters to arrive so they (the farmers) could sit around and do nothing.

The calluses are gone from their hands, presumably having migrated to a more southerly location, on their backsides, and lost is the memory of the “dank odour of recently cultivated earth.”

Heming seems to be wallowing in the nostalgic and romantic image of the hard working farmer slaving from dusk till dawn shoulder to shoulder with those other 21 agricultural workers.

It seems that this was good honest toil, not this modern-day stuff.

I spent the formative years of my youth on a farm and my recollections were of rising with the sun and working till it was dark.

You see, it wasn’t that we got machines and grew lazy, it is more accurate to say that a farmer would continue to work just as hard, but replacing all those labourers with tractors and combines cuts down the cost of the operation and allows you to work on a more efficient scale.

Instead of the family quarter, we operated on a couple of sections of land. It’s a matter of scale of economy in an increasingly competitive and mechanized world. And the farms are getting larger all the time.

Had we kept all those honest, hard-working labourers around to work the fields and bring in the harvest, we would have had to pay them all, and they aren’t nearly as productive as the tractor. That would be a good way to go out of business.

In further defence of farmers, and it’s been a long time since I ran a tractor myself, I recall that farming was a heart-breaking pursuit where a late spring, water in the fields, grasshoppers, hail, drought or an early killing frost could all but ruin your crop after all of the labour was invested.

It is also noteworthy that Ontario farmers have recently been shown protesting in front of our Parliament buildings in Ottawa about lack of support.

In other countries, such as those in Europe, farming is heavily subsidized.

The United States pays farmers not to produce a crop at all. Do those farmers toil in the good earth, or do they pocket their government cheques and enjoy the good life?

They certainly can’t in Canada.


Michael Gates



Getting the

cold facts straight

I would like to take this opportunity to provide some additional information and clarify some of the statements Peter Becker made regarding the proposed Yukon Cold Climate Innovation Centre in the Yukon News of April 12.

First of all, I would like to thank Becker for his interest in the project.

There has been a tremendous amount of work completed to date by both a steering committee and working group comprised of representatives from the private sector, the governments of Yukon and Canada, the National Research Council, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and Yukon College.

As background, in May 2004, a pan-northern forum was held in Whitehorse to explore the concept of an innovation cluster above the 60th parallel.

Representatives from Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik and Labrador expressed their interest in innovation and developing solutions for solving particular cold climate challenges. 

Innovation clusters hold the potential to generate immense wealth for Canadians by establishing and maintaining Canada as world leader in key technologies and are already transforming the economies of the cities and provinces in which they reside.

The Yukon government and NRC-IRAP took the initiative to fund a market and feasibility study.

While these studies indicate there is potential for the development of an innovation cluster in the Yukon, there are certainly still some challenges to overcome prior to it becoming reality.

Critical to the success of our initiative is engaging the private sector, academia and governments. 

In some regions clusters have developed spontaneously through the physical grouping of companies, and others clusters have been created as planned developments collaboratively managed by federal, provincial and municipal governments, and industry.

In every case, the clusters have grown around a nucleus. The feasibility studies that we have done indicate the need for an innovation centre to act as the focal point of a Yukon cluster.

This centre will be a key element in developing a Technology Innovation Research Cluster, forming a core around which the cluster may develop.

The infrastructure of the centre will enable its tenants to engage in year round research and development activities, training and experimentation in the North to accelerate the pace of innovation and to serve as a showcase for industry initiatives

In order to trigger discussion on the initiative, it was necessary to develop a visual model of what the proposed facility might look like.

The actual design of the facility will be completed in conjunction with stakeholder input and advice, and the needs of the anchor tenants. The size of the actual structure and the detailed design is yet to be determined.

The next step, in this project, is to engage a project director who will develop and implement an investment-ready business plan for the establishment of a centre.

The request for proposals for this work closed on March 31st, and the interim board of directors will be making a decision in the near future.  

I would like to assure Yukoners that we will not move forward with the construction of a facility, without industry support, anchor tenants and a strong business plan.

To date, the project concept has received letters of support from a number of major corporations, as well as interest from major universities.

As Becker correctly pointed out, attracting world-class researchers will be critical to the success of this initiative.

I am pleased to say that Yukon College has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Alberta and that several of their departments have expressed interest in working with us on this project.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with anyone who is interested in more details about the project, and can be reached directly at 393-6065.

Donna Mercier, project manager, Yukon Cold Climate Innovation Centre