How to deal with a dilemma such as gas-sniffing is never an easy matter.
No matter what solution is attempted, the cost is going to be high; to do nothing, the human cost will be even higher.
If we were to ask why the children of Natuashish find it necessary to sniff gas, we might find that the reasons are many and varied.
Some thoughts that come to mind are: a) a sense of hopelessness for their future; b) a lack of alternate activities; c) an unpleasant home circumstance, e.g. poor parenting; d) in some cases, peer pressure; e) just plain old boredom; f) uncertain economic conditions, and a multitude of other probabilities.
As was done in 2000, we could remove them from the community and once again attempt to reconfigure their interests and outlook, but from precedent we know that was not successful. There may be other provincial and/or federal schemes that will surface that may or may not provide a more permanent fix. Any programs may be subject to failure but that should not discourage us from making a sincere move in a positive direction.
I would like to add a suggestion for consideration by those in a position to implement programs.
I truly believe that these young people could remain in their home community if their interests could be channeled in another direction. We have to provide a facility and activities in which they have a natural interest.
The people of Labrador are talented when it comes to hands-on activities. As mechanics, woodworkers, welders and in other trades, they would excel. The government could invest in a suitable building with a variety of equipment, materials and a small staff to instruct in a learn-by-doing approach. The boredom of typical schooling would not arise, and interest would be high. They would soon realize their lives have potential for success.
Under a program such as this, the gas-sniffing would silently disappear as their new interests and sense of direction would eradicate the old problems that had haunted their chances of survival.
Expensive to implement? Yes, you bet, but it’s far less expensive than providing a new community or temporarily transferring them out, as was done previously.
Cost in dollars need not be a factor here because there are other human costs that are unavoidable and far more devastating if we fail to act.