The president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) has proposed imposing fees for hunters who ship country food for profit in Nunavut during the first day of NTI’s annual general meeting.
“The Kivalliq is selling a lot of caribou. It’s going overboard. We’re concerned about our caribou declining,” said KIA president Kono Tattuinee during the meeting.
“Kivalliq will be pushing for this because the caribous of the Kivalliq are being depleted. We will be making an approval coming from the Kivalliq.”
As it stands airlines currently offer free freight for hunters shipping meat. Tattuinee said the profiting off of country food goes against Inuit custom.
“We live in such a different time from our forefathers. This weighs heavily on the caribou and the people.”
Nunavut News has reached out to KIA for comment regarding Tattuinee’s suggestion.
The Qamanirjuaq herd that migrates across the Kivalliq has declined in size by nearly 50 per cent from an estimated size of 500,000 in 1994 to 288,000 in 2017.
During a brief attendance at the AGM, Premier Joe Savikataaq was asked what the territorial government could do to stop the sale of caribou meat.
He responded that such a restriction would have to come from NTI because the government didn’t have the authority to override the Nunavut Agreement.
“I’ve been asked about this in the house many times. We can’t stop the sale of meat. It’s in the Nunavut Agreement.”
“The only that will change is if the Nunavut Agreement is altered. Only NTI can infringe on the beneficiaries’ rights. If NTI choses to amend the agreement that’s up to NTI. It’s a right that our beneficiaries have. Even if we put a quota a beneficiary can sell its legally harvested caribou.”
Tagak Curley, vice-president of Kivalliq Inuit Association dismissed the idea that the Nunavut Agreement would have to be altered in order to prevent the sale of meat.
He said the agreement gave beneficiaries the right to make their own regulations. He suggested the three regional organizations that make up NTI could make up their own agreement for the management of wildlife including the sale of meat.
Meat wastage part of the problem
Tattuinee told the meeting that there are increasing numbers or carcasses with lots of meat being left on the land.
He said he has been shown social media posts of hunters who are just selling the caribou fat.
“It’s getting critical and a lot of caribous are being left out on the land because when they don’t have fat they are just put in the dump.”
During a presentation to the AGM later that day, NTI’s vice-president James Eetoolook acknowledged he has also seen photos of hunters harvesting caribou fat for sale while leaving good meat behind.
“We know that people who want to buy meat, (but) we have to do conservation with caribou,” he said.
Representatives will be discussing members’ resolutions today. This story will be updated if a resolution is passed.
In addition to limiting the sale of meat, improved education for young hunters was suggested as a way to protect herds.
AGM delegates suggested limiting the trade of caribou meat between the regions and promoting more awareness training with young hunters.