Monday, September 3, 2012

More Bureaucracy and Age

     I have mentioned in several posts that I spent five years in the Arctic as a teacher. At one very isolated settlement I was teacher, principal and Local Administrator. To say the least, I was a very busy boy. I had a mechanic and caretaker to supervise as they ran a little diesel power plant. I looked after everything that pertained to government business in that settlement. It was very interesting but very much work. 

    Two of the problems I spent time on dealt with age. The Dept. in Ottawa, that looked after family allowance, kept asking me if I knew were one certain child was. I would go to the family and ask them, "Where is this child? " They would get a very puzzled look on their faces and say they didn't know what I was talking about.    Three months later I would get another letter and ask the family again. This went on for about a year. One time I had their eldest son as an interpreter. Lukasi was a very good interpreter. They began talking among themselves and finally Lukasi told me that it was a baby that died out on one of the islands when they were  hunting. Somehow the death had not been reported in the community by one of my predecessors. The person may not have ever known of such a child as there were changes in staff. However, someone in the upper bureaucracy knew that the child was missing and pursued it until they got an answer. The family were a little disappointed as the money they had been paid for the deceased child would have to be taken back.

    So my point is that some bureaucrat did his/her job in spite of the difficulties of distance and language.

    The other problem was much simpler and resulted in getting money. A local lady had applied for old age pension. She had been born in the days when very little government operations were present so she didn't have a birth certificate. How was she going to prove her age? It was simple. Her daughter was getting old age pension! End of story. She got her old age pension. 

    These were two of the situations that I had to solve while I was there. It was interesting but I didn't have an awful lot of time to work on it.