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Nunatsiaq News: March 13, 1997

The news in Nunavut this week:



Nunavut Trust gives NTI a $5.9 million windfall

Nunavut Tunngavik will be better off financially this year, thanks to a better than average performance by the Nunavut Trust.

Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT -- Beaming Nunavut Trust officials told Inuit beneficiaries through a TVNC phone-in show last night that their investments have earned a record high income for 1997.

That means that for the first time ever, the Trust will be able to give Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. more money than it needs for its operations.

In 1997, the Trust earned $26.4 million on its investments, up from $15.4 million in 1996.

After spending $500,000 on administrative costs for the elders' pension trust fund, the Trust will give $25.9 million to NTI this year.

That's $5.7 million more than the $20.2 million that NTI had been expecting.

NTI expects to use the extra money to start paying down funds borrowed from the Nunavut Trust in previous years.

Ahead of schedule

That's ahead of a 15-year repayment plan that NTI and the Nunavut Trust agreed to in 1996.

"We are very pleased that NTI can begin to pay down part of our outstanding loan balance," NTI President Jose Kusugak said in a press release.

Kusugak was in Toronto this week attending a national mining conference and couldn't be reached for direct comment.

But in the press release, he suggested that the Nunavut Trust's financial performance last year is good for the financial health of both the trust and NTI.

"Repayment of the borrowings will create a larger pool of capital in the trust and generate a larger income stream, allowing NTI to finance more projects and programs to benefit all the Inuit of Nunavut," Kusugak said.

The Nunavut Trust's chair, Peter Kritaqliluk, flew in from his home in Arviat to attend last night's phone-in show on TVNC.

He says 1997 is an important year for the trust and for Nunavut's land claim beneficiaries.

"The trust has grown in size, our investments have produced excellent returns, and for the first time, it will not be necessary to make a temporary loan to NTI, Kritaqliluk said."

Better than market average

Andrew Campbell, the Nunavut Trust's chief administrative officer, said the trust enjoyed earnings of 14.8 per cent on its investments last year.

That's better than last year's average market return of 12.7 per cent, Campbell said.

By the end of 1997, the Nunavut Trust had received $382 million in payments from the government of Canada -- about 33 per cent of the approximately $1.1 billion that Nunavut Inuit will receive in compensation payments under the Nunavut land claim agreement.

As of December 31, 1997, NTI had borrowed $88.9 million from the Trust. An additional $8.4 milliion had been used to make payments to elders.

NTI borrowed that money because in the years immediately after the settlement of the land claim agreement, the Nunavut Trust fund wasn't earning enough money to completely pay NTI's operation costs.

To repay those borrowings, NTI had agreed to begin payments in 2001.

Under that plan, NTI would have repaid the entire amount by the end of 2007. That's the year in which Ottawa will have made its final payment to Inuit as set out in the land claim agreement.

In 2008, the Nunavut Trust would then have the entire $1.1 billion to invest.

Campbell says, however, that not every year will be as profitable as 1997 was for the Nunavut Trust.

"The investment markets in general have produced unusually high returns over the last three years and this trend is not expected to continue forever," he said.

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A well-loved resident passes away

Joanasie Salamonie died last Saturday amidst family and friends in Cape Dorset.

Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT -- People throughout the Baffin and beyond are mourning the loss of one of the region's best-known and best-loved residents.

Joanasie Salamonie, 60, died in Cape Dorset late in the evening of March 7 as the result of a lengthy illness that had affected his health -- but not his energies-- for most of the past decade.

In the last years of his life, Salamonie worked tirelessly to help others recover from alcohol and drug addiction, using his own recovery as an example for others to follow.

Just last week, Salamonie had been doing work at a workshop run by the Inusiqsiuqvik treatment centre in Apex. He died only a few hours after having returned to Cape Dorset from Iqaluit.

Salamonie also worked for several years as the Baffin's regional alcohol and drug counsellor.

An irrepressible raconteur and practical joker, Salamonie's amusing tales and jokes usually rendered his audiences helpless with laughter. He often made frequent appearances on the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation's Kippinguijautit program to tell stories and display his sunny ways.

Earlier in his life, Salamonie was a pioneer in the development of Inuit film and television, working with the Iqaluit-based Nunatsiakmiut film society until it merged with the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation in 1982.

As an actor, Salamonie played a starring role in Phillip Kaufman's "The White Dawn," a feature film shot in Iqaluit that was based on the James Houston novel of the same name.

He also starred in "Nanook Taxi," a locally-made film written and directed by Ed Folger. In that movie, Salamonie played a hunter from Cape Dorset who comes to Frobisher Bay to work as a taxi driver.

On Aug. 24, 1971, Salamonie was one of 23 Inuit who created the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada at its founding meeting in Ottawa. He also worked as a land claims field worker for ITC and the Baffin Regional Inuit Association.

Earlier in life, Salamonie worked as an artist and had a close relationship with the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in Cape Dorset. He travelled widely, from Australia to Scandinavia to Alaska.

An Iqaluit resident for many years, Salamonie also served on Frobisher Bay's village and town councils.

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Innu protestors rain on Brian Tobin's parade

When Brian Tobin and Lucien Bouchard met to sign a $10 billion deal that would create one of the largest hydro-electric developments in the world, 120 angry Innu protestors interrupted their made-for-the-media bragathon.

Special to Nunatsiaq News

CHURCHILL FALLS, Labrador -- The Innu of Labrador and Quebec warned politicians this week there'll be no deal to develop the lower Churchill River without them.

About 120 Innu protesters made their point when they emerged from their tents and blocked the road leading to this isolated community in central Labrador.

Elders dressed in traditional costume danced to a sacred drum, while younger Innu waved placards in English and French and loudly denounced the hydroelectric deal Premiers Brian Tobin and Lucien Bouchard had come to announce this Monday.

Innu block premiers

After an hour long-standoff, they forced the premiers to return to the airport and enter Churchill Falls in a helicopter.

Instead of making an announcement in the school gym where satellite trucks were ready to beam it live to the world and Innu protesters awaited their arrival, the premiers met the media and invited guests behind locked doors at a hastily arranged alternative site.

Despite the disruption, the premiers announced their governments will begin negotiations to develop one of the largest hydroelectric projects in the world.

In an effort to right old wrongs where most of the profits from the Upper Churchill flow to Quebec, Newfoundland will own two-thirds of the new development.

The Churchill River will be dammed at Gull Island, 100 kilometres east of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and a power complex there will generate most of the additional 3,200 megawatts of power.

The existing generating station at Churchill Falls will be expanded when the Saint Jean and Romaine rivers in Quebec are diverted into the Smallwood Reservoir.

A new transmission infrastructure will carry power to markets, likely in the United States.

The price tag for the whole package is $10 billion.

Innu want compensation

But none of it is earmarked for compensation, one of the key demands the Innu are setting as a prerequisite for developing the Lower Churchill.

The Innu want compensation for flooding that destroyed their hunting and burial grounds when the Smallwood Reservoir was created in the 1960s.

Innu elders like Elizabeth Penashue of Sheshatshiu say they weren't told about the development.

"They're not going to do the same as they did before," she said at Monday's protest.

The Innu say they have to be part of any agreement to develop the Lower Churchill.

"We want to be at the table from day one," said Katie Rich, president of the 1500-member Innu Nation.

"We've had no part of these negotiations, there's been no consultation," she said.

She said the premier's offer of a briefing late last week wasn't good enough.

"The people say if we let the announcement go ahead, then we're consenting to the development. We're not," said Innu Nation vice-president Daniel Ashini.

Innu want land claim settlement

Ashini said the government has to offer compensation and conclude a land claim agreement before the Innu will sit at the table.

Land claims negotiations have been underway since 1990, and they continue, although the province has refused to establish a side table to discuss compensation for developing the Upper Churchill.

Tobin said he wants the Innu at the table but it wasn't feasible to invite them until he and Bouchard agreed to begin formal negotiations.

He has set a deadline of December 15th this year to conclude a memorandum of understanding with Quebec on the development.

After yesterday's announcement, the Innu struck their camp and returned to their homes in Labrador and Quebec to contemplate what to do next.

Armand Mackenzie of Mamit Innuat says he's going to New York at the end of the month to attend an international conference on aboriginals and the environment and use the forum to draw attention to the social cost of proposed new development.

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Arctic Bay man dies in sudden avalanche

Nunatsiaq News

MONTREAL -- It was a clear, cold day with little wind, but even so, danger lurking on the slope killed a 24-year old Arctic Bay man last Saturday.

Peter Barnabas likely didn't have time to avoid the avalanche that buried him and his snowmobile under eight feet of snow.

Fast-moving avalanches have been noted to travel up to 140 kilometers an hour.

Barnabas had left Arctic Bay earlier that morning, intending to meet up with a friend later that day.

But Barnabas didn't show up, and by late afternoon searchers were out looking for him.

RCMP Constable Harvey Seddon, who joined the search in the evening, says skidoo tracks were finally found by flashlight around 12 kilometers from Arctic Bay, near a steep hill approximately 100 meters high.

Using copper pipes as guides in the deep snow, Barnabas' body was located around 1:30 am on March 8.

"There have not been other reports of avalanches in the area," says Const. Seddon, "But there could be avalanches and depending on their location, no one would know."

Avalanche safety publications suggest traveling routes that avoid steep slopes.

Slopes with a sun crust or south-facing slopes are particularly dangerous, because loose layers underneath can move, unleashing an avalanche.

Snowmobilers are also advised to travel in pairs, to carry a shovel and a collapsible probe.

"Stop every once in a while for a look around, and think about what you see," counsels the Cyberspace Snow and Avalance Centre.

If you are caught in an avalanche, the centre says you can try to ride it out or jump off your machine and try to swim along with its motion.

Sticking your arm stright up in the air is a good idea because sometimes it will stick up from the avalanche, giving others a clue to where you are.

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Labrador women want RCMP in their communities

A group of women in Labador wants the government of Newfoundland to station police officers in their communities.

Special to Nunatsiaq News

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY -- There's enough crime in the Inuit communities of Makkovik, Postville and Rigolet to warrant a full-time police presence.

That's the finding of a recent study of unreported crime in Labrador commissioned by Pauktuutit, Canada's national Inuit women's association.

Pauktuutit is hold its annual general meeting in Iqaluit next week.

The three communities are now policed from an RCMP detachment in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Violence against women unreported

Violence against women was the most frequently mentioned unreported crime, according to information gathered in interviews, at workshops and on questionnaires.

The study says other kinds of assault, property crimes and drunk driving are also under-reported.

These findings don't come as a surprise to Charlotte Wolfrey of Rigolet, one of the women who conducted the research.

"If a complaint was made, police would investigate and when they leave people would be afraid of repercussions," Wolfrey said.

As a result, crime isn't reported.

"Some kinds of crime are becoming normal, like spousal assault, where a woman covers her black eye with makeup rather than reporting the problem," she said.

Lobbying provincial government

Wolfrey and other members of Tongamiut Inuit Annait (Inuit Women of Torngat Mountains) plan to use the study to lobby the provincial government to provide community-based police in Rigolet, Postville and Makkovik.

They've invited Newfoundland's attorney-general, Chris Decker, to their annual meeting in Rigolet next month.

Wolfrey wants him to hear what it's like to live in a community without police, where it takes 45 minutes to fly in from the detachment in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and regular patrols occur only every three or four weeks.

Wolfrey's daughter was murdered in Rigolet five years ago and she's haunted by the idea that having police living in the community might have made a difference.

"On the day she died, she called police to tell them a guy was threatening to kill her, but they said they couldn't do anything until something happened," Wolfrey said.

A month after Wolfrey's daughter died, Pauktuutit held its annual meeting in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Wolfrey attended.

The organization decided to conduct a study to challenge police and government officials who said "low" crime rates don't justify full time police in every Inuit community on Labrador's north coast.

The study proves the police are needed, Wolfrey says.

Alternatives to police don't work

She says people in Rigolet have tried alternatives, like Citizens on Patrol, but they don't work.

"The work is dangerous and we don't want to put our families at risk."

The study was completed three years ago and sent to the premier at the time, Clyde Wells.

"We hope the province, the federal government, the community would get together to provide policing, but it didn't happen," Wolfrey said.

Pauktuutit ran out of money for its justice co-ordinator and the report gathered dust.

But Wolfrey says the findings are still relevant and she hopes the meeting next month will convince the province of Newfoundland to station police in every north coast community.

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John A. and Tagak win national awards

Two of Nunavut's founding fathers were honoured for their work last night.

Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT -- Two of Nunavut's best-known leaders received national recognition Thursday for their service to Inuit.

Tagak Curley and John Amagoalik accepted National Aboriginal Achievement Awards last night at a gala banquet at the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

"Both Tagak and John, we're very proud of them," said Meeka Kilabuk, who's worked with both men since the 1970s.

Curley's drive to represent Inuit began on the national scene in 1971, when he was the founding president of the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada.

"At the founding conference, we decided to promote the word Inuit, which is our own word, rather than Eskimo, which is a Cree word," Kilabuk explained.

"Tagak was very instrumental in lobbying and convincing the federal government that we should have our own organization for Inuit."

Kilabuk recalls the day in August, 27 years ago, when Curley as president, Josiah Kadluqsiaq as vice-president and she as secretary-treasurer formed ITC's first executive.

Since those early days at ITC, Curley made his mark in a number of other areas: as an NWT economic development minister, a president of Nunasi Corporation, a former Liberal Party candidate and now as the man overseeing the construction of more than $100 million in government nfrastructure throughout Nunavut.

As president of Nunavut Construction Corporation, Tagak is committed to employing a representative number of Inuit beneficiaries on the many projects across Nunavut. His goal is to reach an 85 per cent Inuit employment level.

John Amagoalik is also a familiar face and name throughout Nunavut.

"When we were asked to nominate someone for the awards, John was a quick and unanimous choice," said Rhoda Arreak, the president of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce. "He has played such a pivotal role in the creation of Nunavut that we felt his accomplishments should be recognized at a national level."

Amagoalik, who now sits as chief commissioner of the Nunavut Implementation Commission, was one of the lead negotiators in the Nunavut land claim negotiations.

Meeka Kilabuk recalls how the then-fledgling ITC enticed Amagoalik away from his job at the territorial government.

"John A was working for the GNWT at the information office when we decided to pluck him out."

From there, Amagoalik went on to serve as head of the NWT land claims commission and as president of ITC.

He was later elected chair of the Nunavut Constitutional Forum in 1986-87 and served as a constitutional and political advisor to the Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut --the predecessor of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. -- from 1991- 1993.

In 1994, Amagoalik received ITC's 20th anniversary award for his contribution to advancing Inuit political rights in Canada.

In 1995, the work of Amagoalik and others was rewarded when the government of Canada compensated the dozens of Inuit who were arbitrarily moved to the High Arctic from Northern Quebec and Pond Inlet.

The federal government has never apologized for the move, however.

Kilabuk, who sits on NIC's executive as treasurer, said when Amagoalik has a goal, there's no dissuading him from his course.

"I like his direct approach to any issues, getting right down to business," she said.

The awards ceremony will be televised on CBC March 26 at 8 pm.

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Falling turbot prices hurt Pangnirtung Fisheries

Asian consumers can't afford to buy as much turbot as they could in the past. That means less income for Pangnirtung Fisheries.

Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT -- Pangnirtung fish plant workers finished processing the winter's offshore turbot catch last week as faltering world prices dampened the company's profit outlook.

Peter Kilabuk, chairman of the board at Pangirtung Fisheries, reported a "very good" season, despite turbulent market conditions triggered by a currency crisis in Asia.

Now, concerns about the effect of unstable prices on the plant's future operations are emerging as planning for the 1998-99 season gets underway.

"It certainly puts a scare into the whole picture," Kilabuk said. "If they stay the way they are, we're certainly going to have to do a little adjusting here and there."

What those market conditions will look like in six months or a year's time will depend largely on what happens half-way around the world in turbot-eating counties like Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan, Kilabuk said.

The recent collapse in the value of Asian currencies stifled demand for foreign-fished turbot this winter.

As Asia lost its appetite, the small east Baffin fishery faced stiff competition in its U.S. market from large southern companies eager to find alternative buyers.

"A lot of the companies were pretty much dumping it into the market at incredibly low prices just to get rid of their fish," Kilabuk said.

This year's offshore fishery was still worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct wages to employees, though. Offshore fish accounts for the bulk of activity at the plant, which is 49 per cent owned by the community-based Cumberland Sound Fisheries.

The NWT Development Corporation holds the other 51 per cent share.

Under contract with Davis Strait Fisheries of Halifax for the third year in a row, the deep sea trawler MV Fame landed 212 metric tonnes of turbot for processing at the Pangnirtung plant last November.

The catch kept between 40 and 50 plant workers busy every day until last week, processing fish for shipment to the company's Boston-based distributor.

"In the couple of years we've done offshore fish, we've certainly learned a lot," Kilabuk said, "and we're taking steps this year to increase and improve the overall fisheries."

Prospects for this year's inshore fishery aren't as bright, as ice conditions keep long-line fishers from reaching Cumberland Sound's richest turbot grounds.

A month into the inshore season, the plant has taken in just 5,000 lbs of fish.

"When it was going really well a few year's back, at this time we probably would have had a couple hundred pounds of fish already. So the ice has certainly played a big role," Kilabuk said.

Cumberland Sound Fisheries manages Pangnirtung's annual turbot quota of 600 metric tonnes -- a little more than a third of the 1,500 tonnes allocated to Nunavut communities by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans last year.

"We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that the fishermen can make some money and keep some employees going on the plant for a couple months more."

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After 63 long years, Willie Adams meets his father

Senator Willie Adams' life has come full circle. After 63 years, he's finally met the man who fathered him.

Special to Nunatsiaq News

FREDRICTON, New Brunswick -- When Senator Willie Adams stepped off a plane in Fredericton last month, there waiting for him was local businessman Nelson Adams.
Willie Adams, his grandaughter, and his father
Willie Adams with grandaughter Stephanie and father Nelson Adams.

It was a highly charged encounter. The handsome 63-year-old Inuit senator was about to greet his father for the very first time and the father was about to meet the son, of whose existence he had only recently become aware.

It was a celebratory occasion for the principals and their families. At first there was a certain tentative reticence, a slight awkwardness while they took each other's measure. But the reserve dissipated like fog on a sunny morning and the meeting took the shape of an ordinary family reunion.

It was not ordinary, of course. Far from it. The twists and turns that brought this father and son together would be rejected by a fiction writer as much too contrived.

But they happened. And the erstwhile childless Nelson Adams was digesting the reality of his paterfamilias state; not only a father of one, but grandfather of nine and a great-grandfather. As for the Senator, he had assumed his father long deceased, and given his own age, 63, it was a reasonable assumption.

But his father was very much alive, and on both sides, there was much to assimilate. Willie Adams discovered that his father has for the past two years been deeply engrossed in a new business venture: farming sea urchins and marketing their roe internationally, mainly in Japan, and is a Canadian Navy veteran, businessman, lumberman, and entrepreneur.

Nelson Adams' wife, Verna Peterson, was a chief court reporter with the Department of Justice until her retirement.

A life marked by drama

For the Senator, this stay in Fredericton was but the latest chapter in a life marked by drama, beginning with his birth in Fort Chimo -- as Kuujjuaq was then called -- in the summer of 1934 to an Inuk mother and the father he had just recently met.

He was educated in northern Quebec at mission schools. An electrician by trade, he unknowingly followed in his father's entrepreneurial footsteps. His businesses include Kudlik Electric Ltd., Kudlik Construction Ltd., the Nanuq Inn in Rankin Inlet and Umingmak Expediting Ltd., in Ottawa. As well, he's the president of Polar Bear Cave Investments Ltd. in Rankin Inlet.

Adams was a member of the NWT Territorial Council -- now called the NWT Legislative Assembly -- from 1970 to 1974. He served two terms as chairman of the hamlet council in Rankin Inlet.

But it was in the spring of 1977 that his life took a dramatic turn that he could never have anticipated. Pierre Trudeau, then the prime minister of Canada decided that Inuit should be represented in the Senate by an Inuk. Northern Affairs Minister Warren Allmand was despatched on a mission to screen three or four potential candidates.

Senator Adams remembers that interview with great clarity and describes it with dry wit:

"Why me? I asked. I was surprised to learn I was even being considered. I had served two terms as chairman of the hamlet Council, but I gave it up. Not very much money in politics. Electrical contracting provided a better living, but still, I was curious.

"What does the Senate do, I asked. Not much, he said. What does it pay? I asked. He told me. I'll take it, I said."

First Inuit Senator

So the 44-year-old became Canada's first Inuit senator and guaranteed himself a place in Canada's history.

It was not as simple as it sounds. Willie Adams had to leave his home in Rankin Inlet, his wife and eight children, and his electrical contracting business.

He was forced to change his diet, clothing styles and recreational activities, but he was prepared to do that. He had never really lost his interest in politics and here was a chance to serve the people in the north.

"But I knew nothing about being a senator," he says now. "It took me about a year to learn the ropes. It's been a real challenge, though. I have to keep informed on national and regional issues because we review legislation passed in the Commons. And I have to relate the concerns of my constituents to the government cabinet ministers and colleagues."

His subsequent history indicates Pierre Trudeau and Warren Allmand made a good choice. He has racked up an impressive record in his Senate years and they're far from over.

Given his concern for the future of the North, he has served on the Senate standing committees on energy, the environment and natural resources, aboriginal affairs and fisheries.

When the Senate proposed to establish a task force on the Meech Lake Accord and the Yukon and Northwest Territories, he was asked to become an ex officio member and traveled throughout the North with the task force.

Representing Inuit

He was an avid supporter of the Nunavut land claim agreement and before it was introduced in the Senate, he hosted a briefing session for Senators so that any concerns might be addressed by officials of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, He has taken an active role in the process involving the creation of Nunavut in 1999.

He has traveled widely to promote Inuit art and has attended official openings of exhibitions, where he has delivered speeches outlining the history of the Inuit and Inuit culture.

His continuing interest in his Inuit constituents compensates somewhat for the lifestyle he has been forced to forego. "I still get a little lonely for the North sometimes," he admits, but he spends enough time in Rankin Inlet to take the edge off the loneliness.

His personal life in Ottawa has been greatly enhanced by the presence of his wife, Mary, with whom he has an 18-year-old son, Isaac. They first met when she came to the North to work as a home economist, and in their 20 years together she has been an invaluable partner in all his enterprises.

On their momentous visit to Fredericton, Willie Adams and his family are accompanied by the Senator's granddaughter, 14-year-old Stephanie, who has ambitions to become an actress and has already laid out the path her studies will take.

Once through high school, Stephanie says, she'll be off to Saskatoon for study and training. She deserves a special mention because, quite unwittingly, she played a significant role in bringing about the meeting that took place this day in Fredericton.

Here is the story as the two branches of the Adams family tell it:

First the historical view from Nelson:

"In those early days the Hudson's Bay Company employed only Scotsmen. The Canadian government finally took exception to that and suggested they hire some Canadians. Canadians would not be able to stand the isolation, said the company, but they compromised. They hired five Newfoundlanders. I was one of them.

I went to the North in 1931 and I stayed five years. I developed a great respect for the Inuit. This was a civilization that had thrived in that barren land for 10,000 years. They are intelligent, understand conservation and know it is the key to survival. They kill only what they need to fill their needs.

"I'm not sure we brought them much by way of progress, but we could learn a lot from them.

"Much as I liked it up there, I have never been back, though I have never lost my interest. In 1977, when I read about the appointment to the Senate, I was intrigued by the name Willie Adams. I had been called Willie when I was up there. It seemed an unlikely coincidence, so I began an investigation, checking vital statistics, records. It was not long before I was convinced Willie was my son, but I didn't do anything about it. He has his own life, I thought. There is no place for me at this late date."

That was the Senator's reaction when it was suggested to him that the father he had long assumed dead was alive and well and living in Fredericton.

"I had no interest in getting in touch with him. He has his own life."

Women bring family together

But they discounted the women in their respective lives. This is where Mary takes up the story, and where Stephanie makes her vital appearance:

"Nelson had talked to his niece, Gayle Edwards, about his suspicions and finally his certainty, but even at her urging he was reluctant to make an advance or try to make contact.

"There the matter stood until Stephanie came down from Rankin Inlet to stay with us for the winter and go to school. We live in a community called Plantaganet outside Ottawa.

"Gayle lives there too. Her daughter, Katherine, came home one day and told her mother of a new girl in her class from Rankin Inlet named Adams. She learned that Stephanie was the senator's granddaughter. Gayle made the first tentative phone call to our home and reached me.

"After that there were many phone calls and finally Gayle and her family came to our house to dinner. It was our first meeting face to face. Neither of us knew what to expect, but we hit it off from the first minute."

The four women were of one mind, but there was still the senator's reticence to overcome. He was most reluctant to take the next step. Finally, last Father's Day, at the urging of the distaff side, Senator Willie Adams picked up the phone and called Nelson Adams in Fredericton with the news that, this Father's Day, they had something special to celebrate.

"One minute, I was childless, with no immediate family of my own. The next minute, I had a son and nine grandchildren. It was quite an experience," Nelson said of that first telephone call.

Catching up after 63 years

The plans they made that night and in many subsequent telephone calls came to fruition when that plane touched down in Fredericton and these two handsome and accomplished men, father and son, greeted each other and bridged a gap that spanned well over 63 years.

The story that began with that young boy's odyssey to the North so many years ago had come full circle.

This story would be rejected were it fiction for lacking credibility -- far too contrived. But sometimes truth is much stranger than fiction.

As you read these lines, plans are afoot for the summer. Nelson will take Willie fishing and show him off to New Brunswick, and in turn, show New Brunswick off to his son.

Nelson will brush up on his Inuktitut. It's gotten rusty, but a lot of it is coming back. There is a new spring to Nelson's step; a brighter sparkle to Willie' eyes, his place in the firmament even more firmly fixed than ever

Jacqueline Webster, a journalist who lives in Fredricton, New Brunswick, is a columnist for the St. John Telegraph Journal.

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My Little Corner of Canada



My heart is heavy. My good friend, colleague and fellow traveler, Joanasie Salomonie, has passed from this life. I will miss his smile, good humor, and wisdom.

Born into the old world of his people, Joanasie experienced the era of turmoil of the last 35 years. Like many Inuit of his generation, he struggled through these bad times. In the end, he was convinced that the future was better than the past. He dedicated his last years to helping troubled youth and became a respected elder.

He was one of the founders of the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada. He was one of the first field workers for land claims. He was one of the pioneers of Inuktitut television. He was a world traveler. He was a musician, an actor, and an artist.

In his earlier years, Joanasie was a mischievous prankster. He made many of us mad at him because of his pranks. But we could never stay mad at him. He was fun to be with and traveling and working with him was never boring.

Joanasie quit drinking quite some time ago. He found peace with God and devoted the rest of his life to his family and his community.

I knew that Joanasie's health was not very good for a number of years and that visits to hospitals had become more frequent recently.

But that still did not prepare me for the sad news. I was planning to invite him as one of the special guests for the celebrations on April 1, 1999.

We will not see his smiling face on that special day, but we know he will be there in spirit. He was one of the fathers of Nunavut and he will be very proud.

I was blessed with his friendship and I will miss him very much.

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First Air: passengers come last

Good managers recognize good will for what it is: a precious commodity to be cultivated carefully one client at a time in those rare moments when chance requires them to actually live up to their own corporate slogans.

First Air officials like to talk a lot about the importance of customer service, but one wonders if people at company headquarters in Carp, Ont. are actually able to distinguish between a paying passenger and a bag of mail.

Given the opportunity earlier this week to choose between doing the right thing and following their own hidebound internal writ, First Air managers demonstrated to this reporter that contempt for passengers flourishes in the Baffin region, where Canada's third-largest airline enjoys a monopoly.

Scheduled for a return flight to Montreal on Monday, a passenger and friend who was on holiday and visiting Iqaluit arrived at the First Air counter without the return-coupon portion of her round-trip ticket.

The receipt and ticket stub still tucked into her boarding envelope showed clearly that the expensive round-trip fare had been duly paid for in advance through a Montreal-based travel agency.

A check-in clerk at the First Air desk -- who was sympathetic and polite -- thought that the missing coupon had likely been removed in error and possibly discarded by airline employees who had processed ticket and boarding pass at Dorval some 10 days earlier.

Sadly, common sense was abandoned at this point in favor of First Air's bumbling repair-manual management style.

After a wishful call to Montreal on the off-chance that the missing coupon had been discovered and put aside, the clerk disappeared to consult with her betters in Carp as to how she should proceed. The two passengers fully expected her to emerge at any moment with instructions to issue a boarding pass.

Instead, the passengers were dumbfounded when the clerk returned to make the following response:

It turns out in these cases that First Air procedure is to bar the passenger from boarding the jet on which she booked her flight and for which everyone knows she paid.

Now get this: Until she has shelled out the full fare for an extra one-way ticket, the accounting department will "stay happy" until the airline's crack team of forensic administrators goes about tracing the missing coupon and filling in all the necessary forms that missing coupons incur.

Once the paperwork is completed and the accountants are satisfied that a bag lady in Montreal didn't pluck the unused portion of the ticket from a trash basket and mail it to an impostor in Iqaluit travelling southbound on the same jet, a full refund will be issued.

Caught with no time left to protest further, the airline had its way with our unsuspecting travellers. Out came the credit card and the purser rang up an astonishing $1,019 bill for the surprise third leg of our passenger's two-way trip.

Surely only irresponsible monopolies such as First Air can afford such disdain for their customers. Corporate sloganeers are fond of referring to First Air as "the airline of the North," but the company utterly failed to show these customers that it is worthy of the title.

Indeed, the airline's miserable customer service performance on Monday came after three days' of mechanical problems and late arrivals that helped botch the most important weekend of the year for Nunavut's business community -- their annual trade show in Iqaluit.

Air transportation is too important a service in northern communities to be run so poorly. It's time for First Air's southern managers to overhaul their top-down bush-pilot mentality and to recognize that good customer relations is an asset to be earned, not an obstacle to be overcome.

It's no secret that the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce is preparing a submission to Transport Canada. In that submission they plan to request that Transport Canada conduct an investigation into First Air's recent fare and cargo rate increases to determine if they're reasonable.

The BRCC should waste no time in doing this. Since monopolies are immune from the discipline of the market place, consumers have only government regulators to turn to. DW

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These materials are Copyright (C) 1998 Nortext Publishing Corporation (Iqaluit), and may be freely distributed throughout the Internet, or other electronic computer networks or bulletin boards, as long as this notice remains intact and the articles are reproduced in their entirety. These materials may not be reprinted for commercial publication in print or other media without the permission of the publisher.

Last updated March 12, 1998
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