The Mail

August 27 2001

The Mail

August 27 2001

The Mail


A ‘stunning island’

Kudos to Maclean's for tackling the Newfoundland resettlement program (“Ghost ports,” Cover, Aug. 13). Michael Crummey’s essay and the five personal reminiscences nicely capture the stew of contradictory emotions that resettlement continues to provoke in the Newfoundland psyche. Yet for all the controversy, resetdement has received surprisingly litde attention from social scientists. Any consideration of resettlement would do well to place it in the context of other enforced population movements that occurred within Atlantic Canada around the same time, including centralizing the Nova Scotian Mi’kmaq and relocating the African-Nova Scotian residents of Africville (in Halifax). Race was, of course, central to these two examples, but they had one thing in common with resetdement in Newfoundland: all were the brainchildren of those 20th-century monsters known as economists, who captured the ears of policy-makers and were determined to inflict their notions of progress on people deemed inferior. These shameful episodes in the history of Canadian public policy cry out for further study.

Jim Candow, Dartmouth, N.S.

Your article “A time and place apart” was beautifully written. When it stated that the culture of Newfoundland is “deep enough

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to accommodate a world of influences without surrendering,” it summarized much of what I have experienced on that stunning, always surprising island. My daughter and I have made two visits, and on both occasions, while we were hiking, saw several ghost ports.

Heather de Veber, Toronto

Former Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood’s “relocation” policies were, shall we say, interesting. Notably, he did not include himself in the turmoil and setbacks imposed on so many of his citizens. Other than selling Newfie power to Quebec for nothing, this was probably his greatest act of stupidity. When will governments learn that they are not our big brother?

Roger Clark, Calgary

I read the your cover article with real emotion. Even if the resetded people found a better way to grow up and live, they kept so many good memories of their childhood. It sounds a little like King Arthur’s line from a song in Camelot, “A place where life is enchanted and peaceful.”

Philippe Bédard, Ste-Foy, Que.

A CTV movie

A story in the People section (“Lead the way home,” Aug. 20) incorrectly stated that actor Nicholas Lea would be working on a CBC movie based on the Clifford Olson investigations. It’s actually a CTV movie, The Investigation, that will be part of our 2001-2002 season.

Margaret Sirotich, Manager, Programming Communications, CTV Television Inc., Toronto

Why Nanaimo?

Allan Fotheringham writes that “no one has ever been able to explain why they are called Nanaimo bars” (“No news here, boss,”Aug. 13).The Encyclopedia of British Columbia takes a stab, saying, in part: “The most common legend says that an unknown post-Second World War homemaker entered her chocolate square recipe in a contest, naming it after her home town. A more obscure legend credits British families who sent the bars to their coal-miner relatives in Nanaimo, assuming they needed cheering up. The owner of the Scotch Bakery [in Nanaimo], Home of the World Famous Nanaimo Bar, knows only that she found the recipe in a church cookbook.”

Roger Stonebanks, Victoria

Fatal errors

I welcome your article “Mistakes that kill” (Health, Aug. 13) on medical error and risk, and express my concern to the people whose stories appeared, and to the countless others whose stories did not. I am a physician and quite aware of the potential for error and mishap that is part of our work, a part that is aggravated by the current conditions in our health system. There are strong forces that teach the status quo. I contributed to the creation of a forum for risk management with the Canadian Medical Association a few years ago. We included, as your article suggests would be wise, a ministry of transport risk-management expert in our forum. Though some change is occurring, there are well-established taboos against talking internally about these issues. The taboos against going public are even stronger. Perhaps articles like yours will help create momentum for further exploration of how this important problem might be better managed.

Dr. Josée Labrosse, Ottawa

Your article suggests health care could benefit from lessons learned in other lifecritical industries, like aviation. Indeed, there are more than 10 million takeoffs and landings each year in the United States, yet the annual average number of crashes is fewer than four. In contrast, as many as 98,000 people are killed annually from preventable human error in U.S. hospitals alone. That’s more than the number of people who die annually from AIDS (16,516), breast cancer (42,297) or traffic accidents (43,458). Why is flying much safer than going to a hospital? Humanerror researchers agree the reason is the amount of attention devoted to humanfactors engineering, the discipline that designs systems that help (rather than kill) people by improving the fit between people and technology. Since the Second World War, the aviation industry reduced pilot error using human-factors design principles. Health care has only recently begun to apply human factors to reduce medical error. The bottom line? We already have the knowledge to reduce the number of patients who die from their treatment rather than from their disease. Do we have the political will to ensure that this knowledge is put to use? Canadians’ lives depend on it.

Kim J. Vicente, Professor of Engineering, University of Toronto

Danylo Hawaleshka’s story (“Could she have lived?”) is not unfamiliar. This year, my 75-year-old father’s complaints to his physician of chest pain, fatigue and dizziness were, without investigation, summarily dismissed as more symptoms of an unrelated, long-standing, stable condition (Parkinson’s disease). A few weeks later, he collapsed and died of a heart attack caused by a blocked artery. I, too, don’t know whether he could have lived. But I feel he was a victim of neglect, a situation that is becoming more common, especially for the elderly. Are Betty Hawaleshka and my father examples of how we will all end up being treated?

Anna Robaczewski, Halifax

I’m an RN, and a mother of two. I became an RN because I care. I went to school for three years and continue to take courses. We are taught the five rights when comparing the label to the order—right time, right patient, right drug, right dose, right route. So I know what the drug is, what it does, what

side-effects to look for, why the patient needs it. When giving a medication, I always introduce myself to patients, tell them what it is, look at their ID and ask if they have any drug allergies. When unfamiliar with the drug, I look it up. Today’s nurse is overworked and unappreciated. We have more knowledge and skills than many realize. Marcy Kinsman, Brantford, Ont.

Alien thoughts

Your story “UFOs . . . seriously” (Life, Aug. 13) was intelligent and well-rounded. As a professional psychic and someone who works in the paranormal field, I am used to the media presenting two extremes. The first is a one-sided attack on the credibility of those involved in stories of this nature, and the second has no room for the skeptic at all. As someone who has been on ghost hunts and has had an alien encounter experience, I am a believer. I believe in possibilities. If I say I saw an alien and you think I saw a ghost or somebody else thinks I saw an angel—OK. Canada is a place with countless stories of UFOs, Bigfoot sightings, hauntings.

Micheál Teal, Hamilton

After your “serious” report on UFOs, I can hardly wait to see what’s next. How the stars control our lives? Or creationism, a real science? Perhaps I should start picking up my information and opinion at supermarket checkouts. Perhaps your editors have been abducted or had their brains mutilated by aliens.

John Fisher, Vancouver

For more letters

A lacrosse legend

In your Aug. 13 Passages section, you stated Gaylord Powless died at his home outside Peterborough, Ont. Powless died at his home on the Six Nations reserve outside Brantford, Ont. We had the privilege of having both Powless and his father, Ross, here in Brantford. They are the only father-son duo in Canada’s Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Bill Rutledge, Brantford, Ont.