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COLUMN: Straight As on premier’s Rankin appearance

Nunavut's new premier, the Kivalliq's own Joe Savikataaq, did a lot of talking in a relatively short period of time in Rankin Inlet this past week, and it came as no surprise he took the safe route on a number of topics.

But, he trumpeted the benefits of education every chance he got and it was nice to hear our top leader choosing his words in a way that had him talking to our youth, not at them.

Savikataaq extolled the virtues, benefits and peace of mind that come from holding a good job and being able to provide for one's family through post-secondary education without coming across as condescending or preachy.

That's no small feat these days when so many folks have a tendency to hear things that were never said.

It was also good to hear our new premier describe graduating from high school as a springboard to bigger and better things and not the “mission accomplished” attitude too many of our youth still adopt after completing Grade 12.

It needed to be said and needs to be said more.

Savikataaq consistently illuminated educational targets and the benefits that come with them, such as completing post-secondary courses and coming to work with him in the Government of Nunavut.

But every suggestion or illumination was quickly followed by the message that it was ultimately a youth's personal choice.

A simple statement – “If you go to school and you get training, it broadens your horizons as to what you want to be and what you want to do.” – may seem to some as an attempt to simply be innocuous and not upset anyone's personal applecart.

But, when one looks at every pronoun used by the premier and the tone it sets, one realizes it is simple – simply brilliant.

Nothing is more appealing to youth of every walk of life across this great nation of ours than the message that the choices they make in life are their own.

Yes, we'd like them to consider our suggestions because they will benefit them and their families but at the end of the day, the decision is theirs, the rewards are theirs and they are the sole authors of their life's script.

Music to the ears of youth. It puts them in control of their destinations and alleviates almost all pressure from the process of making choices.

But, there is a catch and for a lot of people, it's a big one.

The youth have to feel the message is sincerely delivered.

Was Savikataaq sincere in delivering his message? The two times he spoke of education that I heard, he was getting downright excited by all the opportunities available to youth today.

And as he spoke of the youth who are in the process of obtaining the training they need for the career path of their choosing there was another emotion that began to ooze from the premier – pride! Obtain-ability, sincerity and pride. Powerful mojo!

For those who watched Savikataaq maneuver in Rankin – with that ever-present smile of his, his relatively soft-spoken style and the manner in which he chose his words before speaking – and saw a soft man always playing it safe, you just weren't listening.

What was mentioned by MLAs as being far and away the main reason for bringing forward the non-confidence motion? Leadership. How did Savikataaq describe himself in terms of his approach to governance? As a team player.

And to the notion of any sort of manipulation or scrambling of communication regarding the political process, Savikataaq politely suggested one revisit the final count in the non-confidence vote. Enough said.