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Groundhog Day, La Loche Shootings, No More Printed Mercury

Web posted on February 02, 2016

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

Today is Groundhog Day, not a real holiday but an excuse to have a party and ask your friendly neighbourhood underground dwelling, winter hibernating, rodent of the marmot persuasion to predict the arrival of spring. We all know the real answer, unfortunately it is not family friendly and can't be used here. What would you say if someone dragged you out of your nice warm burrow in the dead of winter just to see if you cast a shadow? The forecast calls for a mix of sun and cloud. Will the critter see his shadow? Meteorological spring starts on March 1. Astronomical spring is when the sun crosses the Tropic of Cancer around the 21st of March. As for me, it's the first outdoor garage sale. My prediction: spring weather will get here when it gets here, until then either enjoy what's left of winter, or suck it up and deal with it.

Now that I have had a chance to mull over the shootings in La Loche there are a number of issues that need to be looked at. This not like the school shootings down south. La Loche is over 95% aboriginal and Metis. It has a suicide rate among young people three times the national average. There is serious substance abuse, not to mention poverty and unemployment. This is a recipe for all sorts of trouble. It is a situation that is found in too many northern communities with a large aboriginal population, and reserves. Canada does not have good track record of dealing with our First Nations people. It really didn't matter who was in power.

Everyone jumped on the bandwagon to save Syrian refugees after the picture of the body on the beach circulated. Bringing in thousands of refugees looked good, especially in the overseas media. Valuable resources are being used up to accommodate this knee jerk reaction. Hardly a day goes by without some report about how the refugee process is not going as well as expected. While it is important to be compassionate and help others, it is more important to look after our own.

The solution here is far more complex than flying a bunch of people to Canada for a photo op. A good start would be to listen and pay attention to what the First Nations leaders are saying. I am sure that they have a much better idea of what is needed than all the politicians and bureaucrats in the southern part of the country combined. It is time to get serious. It's time for all the leaders to get together and do something, not just talk. Attitudes will have to change. Positive action is decades overdue. Most importantly it must be well thought out and done right. It cannot be knee jerk reaction.

It took Young Trudeau a week to visit La Loche. He did acknowledge that governments of all stripes have not done enough for northern and indigenous communities. He did not make any specific commitments. I am hoping that this means that whatever is done will be well thought out. Perhaps the ongoing lessons from the refugee situation have sunk in.

On an other sad note, after 149 years the Guelph Mercury put out it`s final printed edition last Friday. So much for becoming a columnist for the Mercury. In our digital age more and more local printed papers are shutting down. These days there are very few (if any) locally owned and operated daily newspapers. They have all been gobbled up by large companies (Metroland - a division of Torstar) where the bottom line is more important than serving the community.

I have to admit it has been a long time since I bought any printed paper so I am guilty as the rest of you. These days it is far easier to get the news on line. On the other hand there is something to be said about sitting down and enjoying a morning coffee (don`t need that jump start anymore) and reading a printed paper. Some people have to start their day with the crossword puzzle. They will have to find a new source. Then there are all the bird owners in town who will have to find a new paper for their birds to "read."

We now left with the Tribune which is published by the same company. It will be interesting to see how they handle the situation. Perhaps something will rise from the ashes as they say. Time will tell.

Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.

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