BLOG NOTES/QUOTES #23: YKDFN sinks dreams of water ‘squatters’; Liberals grow money tree; and waiting to exhale on vape ban
“These acts of unauthorized occupancy are disrespectful to YKDFN, a sovereign nation, who have occupied and used the area since time immemorial: before even the existence of the City of Yellowknife.” — from YKDFN statement.
“We intend to take whatever legal as well as other action we can to ensure these houseboaters un-moor their boats and move out of the area.” — YKDFN chief executive Jason Snaggs told Cabin Radio.
“There’s about five to six houseboaters out there that more or less are squatting … without chief or council permission.” — Ndilǫ Chief Ernest Betsina told CBC North.
The Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) drew a line in the sand — well, the water, really — when it issued a sternly worded notice earlier this month to a handful of houseboaters who have floated into its area.
Then, last week, eviction notices were stapled to the vessels.
Jason Snaggs, YKDFN chief executive of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, told Cabin Radio: “We have noticed, within the last two years, a few people finding their way along the Dettah Road shore. We have one houseboater that parks on the Dettah Road almost permanently to get access to his houseboat, next to one of our islands.
“Now we have two or three on our side of the lake and two abandoned barges as well. The people have said this is a major disrespect to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and their land and water.
“There are a few people who are not aware of the historical significance of this side of the lake. We hope they recognize that they need to un-moor their houseboats.”
Cabin reported that traditionally, houseboats on Yellowknife Bay have moored outside the area shown on the First Nation’s map (pictured above), including the western shore of Jolliffe Island.
The YKDFN stated it could take legal action to remedy the unauthorized land and water occupancy within the Yellowknives Dene Traditional Chief Drygeese Asserted Community Area.
But it’s not clear to me who has jurisdiction over the bay. The federal government manages water in the NWT. But a 2016 Territorial Court decision ruled that NWT laws do apply on the bay. However, houseboat owners have previously fought off attempts by the city to regulate them, claiming the feds have jurisdiction. And what, if anything, would the Mackenzie River Basin Board have to say? Hmmm.
Over the past year, I’ve noticed some structures being built on the opposite side of the bay — the YKDFN side — with some choice waterfront lots apparently being snapped up. I wonder who approved those developments and if they are indeed being regulated? I wonder how the development on that side of the bay will look if it is allowed to continue to expand? Sure, this side of the bay is fully developed, but that other side’s pristine vista sure looked nice. I’m not against houses going up — and I have no say in what the YKDFN does with its lands, of course — but I just hope it will be well-considered and carefully planned.
The YKDFN’s push to oust a few interlopers could open up a can of worms, as the city and the YKDFN are working on a land swap that would see Ndilo, Jolliffe Island the eastern shoreline approaching Dettah removed from the city’s map boundaries. The change would expand the city’s southwestern boundary, while better connecting the two YKDFN communities of Ndilǫ and Dettah.
While that sounds all great and good, some members of the Yellowknife Bay’s iconic houseboat community — celebrated internationally as part of the city’s quirky identity — wonder what it means for them.
In a CBC North report one year ago, some houseboat owners (captains?) expressed concerns over the uncertainty about what the City of Yellowknife/YKDFN land swap would mean for both themselves, and some of the folks who have erected some form of structure on the various islands in the bay.
“There is animosity, there is phobia, there’s fear,” Matthew Grogono, a long-time houseboater, told CBC. “Is it going to be for the better or for the worse? I would rather work with Ernest Betsina … than the former mayors and city of Yellowknife.
In that CBC story, Coun. Julian Morse said the houseboat community is a popular tourist attraction and part of Yellowknife’s culture, but has been “tenuous” situation since the first houseboat was floated.
“There is a side of the history of this town that’s been colonial that has involved essentially westerners coming into this community and doing whatever they wanted without asking any permission whatsoever,” he said in the CBC story.
Since the city reportedly has no leases with folks living on Jolliffe Island, the largest land mass in the bay, they haven’t been part of land-swap negotiations. That island, Mayor Rebecca Alty has stated, falls under the Akaitcho process.
The houseboaters pay someone to dock their boats, but they live property tax free and use the city’s services when not bobbing about in their self-contained homes. I like the idea of being an individual. I like the concept of fighting government and the tax dollars that often go to policies and projects I don’t agree with.
The visuals the houseboats provide generate an immeasurable amount of free tourism marketing. But land is land and a system of rules to avoid conflicts over property ownership — private and public — must be fairly developed and evenly applied. That has been the case since ancient times.
The objective of Akaitcho Process negotiations is to clarify rights and to provide clarity and certainty with respect to ADFN’s land, resources and self-government rights in the Northwest Territories stemming from the “agreement of peace and friendship” known as Treaty 8 in 1900.
My hope is that people wanting to live a free life on the water will be able to do so into the future. However, it will have to be done respecting the incoming changes to the city’s boundary and the “property” line being drawn up with the YKDFN.
I also hope the YKDFN will regulate development on its lands so as to respect the environment and the beauty of the region.
It would also help if the jurisdictional issues about the bay become clear during the Akaitcho Process, which is to head into public hearings at some point, prior to ratification, which is scheduled to start next year.
GRITS DIG FINANCIAL HOLE, PLANT MONEY TREE
Canada pledges $400M in global humanitarian aid to help combat coronavirus. — The Canadian Press, Sept. 29, 2020
Canada’s deficit to hit $330B as coronavirus lands ‘permanent’ economic impact. — The Canadian Press, Sept. 29, 2020
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to forge his globalist ways even as our country is in dire need of some help for its own people.
Now the Liberals’ enchantment with being the world’s gift fairy might be sound policy in normal times — sound policy for members of that party, I note, not for everyone in Canada — but as we continue to dig a very unstable fiscal pit, it’s time for the Grits to help Canadians first.
Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, have things improved for Indigenous people across the country? Better water? Better housing? Nope. In fact, the situation has grown more dire, as COVID-19 has either easily entered ill-prepared remote Indigenous communities in the South, or have forced those in the North to essentially shelter in place since last spring.
The group Canada Without Poverty states that five million people in Canada — one out of every seven individuals. The group notes that vulnerable groups such as people living with disabilities, single parents, elderly individuals, youth, and racialized communities are more susceptible to the impacts of poverty.
Our universal access health-care system, while being a model for many in the world, still rations out care and forces many people to wait months or years for needed procedures that could be done in days or weeks elsewhere.
As reported by The Canadian press, the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) says the federal deficit for the year is on track to hit $328.5 billion as a result of COVID-19 and the “permanent impact” it is having on the economy.
That figure, reports CP, released a couple of weeks ago, reflects measures announced as of the start of the month, including an estimated $225.9 billion in emergency aid in response to the pandemic.
The PBO warns that Canada’s current deficit level will be soon be unsustainable.
But that doesn’t faze Trudeau. He seems to think money grows on trees. Big Liberal money forests.
Or at very least, is a student of the Modern Monetary Theory. That’s a loony idea espoused by the radical left, which holds that governments can simply print money as needed. However, the long-term effects can be higher taxation or higher inflation. And we could end up like Greece in a decade or so.
In the recent Throne Speech, our wacko Gov.-Gen. Julie Payette — looking fresh after making a brief foray from her hermit wing at Rideau Hall — read Trudeau’s promise to move forward with the national child care and pharmacare social programs.
How the heck does he plan to pay for them, when he’s shovelling our hard-earned tax dollars out the back door to the rest of the world in a pitiful virtue signal?
I note that recent Ipsos polling for Global News showed 55 per cent of Canadians say the federal deficit is too large. Also, 54 per cent of Canadians would support an election this fall.
It doesn’t appear an election is coming as the minority Liberal government has caved to NDP spending demands, but when it does, perhaps some sanity will reveal itself in the results.
IGNITING A VAPE DEBATE
In this age of avoiding other humans, public engagement by government on major projects has gone online. I like it. It gives everyone the chance to offer opinions and avoids special interest groups hogging the media spotlight by being the loudest voices in a public session in some meeting room.
In recent weeks, I’ve taken surveys on the future of Postsecondary Education in the NWT, the Yellowknife Aquatic Centre and the GNWT’s pondering of a ban of the sale of flavoured vape products.
Since I’m a vaper, I’ll write a bit about that topic today.
As reported by Cabin Radio, the NWT’s Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act came into force in March. It regulates the display and advertisement of vaping products, as well as being the legislation that formally prohibits their sale and supply to minors.
With the act now in place, the territory is developing regulations to enforce its provisions — and is asking residents for feedback.
I quit smoking in the fall of 2018 with the help of JUUL and I’ve been vaping ever since. It’s a bit cheaper than using tobacco and a whole lot healthier for me and anyone around me. And the exhaust from my JUUL is odourless. Which makes it easy to sneak a wee puff in some non-smoking areas, such as airports, office buildings and even grocery stores.
But I digress.
As for a ban on flavoured vaping products I am for it — to a point. Sure, I use a ‘flavour’ with my JUUL system, that being Virginia Tobacco and Golden Tobacco. I can choose from three levels of nicotine and have been gradually moving to smaller percentages.
But the amount of vape flavours out there is endless. And many are candy flavours that appeal to younger people — with or without nicotine. Nicotine levels in e-juice vary dramatically, from nicotine-free to forms comprised of potent nicotine salts that may contain more poison per puff than you’d expect from a cigarette.
The disposable styles of devices are especially of concern, as they have intense flavours and the devices can be easily concealed.
Is vaping better for society as a whole than tobacco smoking? Of course. Is vaping less healthy than inhaling nothing at all except the air around us? Yes. Would not inhaling any foreign substance into one’s lungs be the best idea? Yup, but humans are mostly a finicky, addictive lot.
Should kids vape? Nope. Can we always prevent kids from doing something that’s bad for them? Of course not, but we can make it hard for them.
Flavoured vaping products should be restricted for adult use. Especially those with nicotine in them. As they are now. A GNWT ban would only make the products more sought out on the Internet. I would think having a teen sucking on a vape pen is a better idea than using cigarettes, no? And what would the GNWT consider to be a vape flavour? Tobacco is a flavour.
And just a note, the scare a few months ago over an number of vaping-related illnesses in North America faded once it was discovered most of those cases involved people unwisely introducing cannabis into their vape juice, or sourcing it from a sketchy maker.
Just continue to regulate the heck out of them and prevent any advertising of the candy flavoured types. I have no use for the candy flavoured juice. I’m not vaping for the fun of it. I’m doing it to avoid the proven lethal consequences of smoking cigarettes.