The editorial cartoon on Sept. 22 was probably the most moving I’ve ever seen.
The image of the young person sniffing gas with the caption “Last gasp” struck me the moment I turned the page. The artist’s excellent work captures the attention and evokes instant empathy.
Substance abuse among youth in Natuashish and other isolated communities is clearly an issue that requires the sustained attention and resources of our leaders and our province’s support systems. I also want to take the opportunity to urge all members of the media and our communities to remember that there is much more to Natuashish than gas sniffing.
I’ve never been there and I certainly don’t pretend to speak for anyone there, but I know that the community is home to hundreds of people with many stories to tell. I’m sure that many would be equally heart-breaking, but also certain that a closer look would reveal inspiring, joyful, compelling and complex stories as well.
There is no denying that gas sniffing is an urgent and persistent problem that requires attention, but when we restrict our view of a community to that one narrow window, it gives us a false picture.
It creates a stereotype and a caricature that is all too easy to dismiss and ignore as surreal. It lulls us into thinking that a community of people in all its richness and complexity is nothing but a basket case of unending substance abuse. That’s not only unfair and inaccurate; it also has great potential to be destructive because it makes us all a little less human.
I urge readers — and all members of the media in particular — to dig deeper. The full picture of life in Natuashish deserves our attention, airtime and column inches, too.
Scott Morton Ninomiya