Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut June 12, 2018 - 8:00 am

Nunavut MLA says GN should do more to prevent caribou overhunting

Caribou are being “massacred for financial gain" in the Kivalliq region, says MLA Cathy Towtongie

Inuit Qaujimaqatuqangit says hunters shouldn't kill the lead caribou guiding the herd across rivers—but that's what is happening near her home community of Rankin Inlet, says Nunavut MLA Cathy Towtongie. (FILE PHOTO)
Inuit Qaujimaqatuqangit says hunters shouldn't kill the lead caribou guiding the herd across rivers—but that's what is happening near her home community of Rankin Inlet, says Nunavut MLA Cathy Towtongie. (FILE PHOTO)

Preliminary results from a 2017 population survey show “a continued declining trend” for the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region, the Nunavut environment minister revealed June 11 in the territorial legislature.

But hunters continue to overhunt, in defiance of traditional knowledge, by picking off the caribou at the front of the herd as it migrates across rivers, said Cathy Towtongie, the MLA for Rankin Inlet North and Chesterfield Inlet.

That practice goes against Inuit Qaujimatuqangit, she said.

“When caribou are starting to cross rivers, the first caribou are not supposed to be killed. No matter how poor they look or what condition they’re in, the first caribou to cross a river must never be killed,” Towtongie said.

Towtongie wanted the environment minister, Joe Savikataaq, to say why his department doesn’t enforce traditional knowledge with respect to caribou management.

But Savikataaq said there are no rules protecting caribou crossings and in any event, that his department can’t monitor all rivers, although Towntongie said she’s most concerned about the river near her home community of Rankin Inlet.

Caribou from the herd are also being “massacred for financial gain,” Towtongie alleged.

It’s commonly known that caribou meat is often sold online, mainly through Facebook postings, from hunters in the Kivalliq region to buyers in the Baffin region, which has a severely restricted hunt.

Towtongie’s remarks came after Savikataaq, in a minister’s statement, provided an update on the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd.

As Nunavut’s largest herd, the Qamanirjuaq herd is “an important source of food and income for many Nunavummiut,” he said.

The Qamanirjuaq herd, which spans Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, northern Manitoba and northern Saskatchewan, provides an estimated $11 million in harvests annually.

The new population assessment is the first since 2014, Savikataaq said.

That survey showed that the size of the herd had dropped to an estimated 264,000 animals in 2015, down from about 349,000 in 2008 and nearly 500,000 in 1994.

“My department will continue to work with the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board and our co-management partners to determine if management actions are necessary,” he said.

For the past two years, the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board and officials have tried to convince airlines to provide more information about the transport of caribou meat, especially between the Kivalliq and Baffin regions.

People in the Baffin region have been hungry for caribou meat ever since Baffin’s caribou population declined, prompting the GN to ban harvesting and then to impose an annual quota of 250 bull caribou.

In the absence of reliable harvesting numbers, and suspecting that internet caribou meat sales and other factors have seriously affected the Kivalliq region’s Qamanirjuaq caribou herd, the board increased the herd’s vulnerability rating to “medium-high.”

The board has encouraged good harvesting practices such as limiting wastage, donating unused meat to nearby communities, harvesting only males whenever possible, limiting disturbance and protecting core calving grounds, post-calving areas and key water crossings, such as those referred to by Towtongie.

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(25) Comments:

#1. Posted by Wait Until They're Extinct on June 12, 2018

I actually agree with something Cathy T. says.

Inuit have been such poor managers of the caribou population, and when little Johnny shoots the last one(his first), his parents and family will be so proud.

The market for caribou, on Facebook, is only going to deplete the population, even more.

Inuit who say they have caribou meat or hunt it should be ashamed of themselves.

#2. Posted by pissed off on June 12, 2018

It`s great that Cathy is admitting that the people of the Keewatin are overhunting for financial gains.

This is not the Inuit way as most people understand it.
Very few people in her region will admit to this bad practice.

However asking the GN to `` do something`` about the first cariboo crossing the river takes all the punch away from her demand.

Nobody can monitor all hunting activities . We have to get real in our demands to the GN otherwise real, enforceable, reasonable ideas will get diluted and ignored as well.

#3. Posted by Enough on June 12, 2018

Set a limit and put poachers in jail like everywhere else does. Nothin traditional about a .338 fored from a ski doo…

#4. Posted by N. Anooq. on June 12, 2018

Inuit people have been mismanaging caribou for years, they think they
have some God given right to kill all the game and then blame the
kabloonaqs for inventing guns.

#5. Posted by Finally on June 12, 2018

This has finally been said. Caribou meat being sent out of Rankin Inlet alone can reach over 10,000lbs a week. Overheard airline representatives talking at the terminal about the number of caribou meat being sent out.

So called hunters selling meat publicly should be made to hold a business license. At the very least, acquire a tag before selling caribou meat. This will be a means of tracking the total number of caribou harvested for selling.

It’s so unfair to people who are working and working hard that “hunters” are allowed to sell caribou meat for a living.

I honestly hope that there is a limit enforced on the number of caribou harvested per household.

Good job bringing this to the attention of Assembly.

#6. Posted by Enough is enough on June 12, 2018

This is also happening in the Kitikmeot Region they hunt and sell their catch.  They use the money from their catch very poorly.  It’s like they hunt caribou just for the money and they even auction it off to highest bidder which is pretty sad what they are doing.

#7. Posted by Oh Really on June 12, 2018

But….but…we have to protect the caribou from mineral exploration because it might possibly have a chance of hurting caribou! And people should rely more on country food! And how dare Inuit hunters have limits! And…

#8. Posted by Kivalliq Hunter on June 12, 2018

Caribous history from centuries always declining and over populating. People using caribou as their leverage to gain something either popularity or just plain crab mentality is sickening. As raised by grandparents, hunting with them and learning from them yes we must respect them and get all meat. Today we buy meat(cow/chicken) at store and have no problem with some company selling these items but attack our own people who are doing the exact. Its called Crab Metality! We need to farm these animals today like cows/chicken they do down south. Mineral exploration are here to create jobs which we need and are not here to destroy. They are trying to work with all policies we inuit place for them. Instead of attacking each other lets work together, write letters of our concerns to proper organization who administer our land.

#9. Posted by Lol inuit on June 12, 2018

And the mining companies are laughing all the way, saying look at them! The Inuit are attacking each other! Little do they realize it us us who are developing their calving ground! Hahaha the most important piece of conserving caribou by far!

#10. Posted by Arctic Buzzard on June 12, 2018

The lady going to court on july 16 is being charged for cruelty to animal (dog) and SPCA is assisting RCMP for right charge…dog slaughter before probably had about 10,000 plus huskies slaughtered forever changing our way of life in hunting. Caribou slaughter? I think common sense will & should prevail. Will be hard to manage but hunters with no income are being…

#11. Posted by Arviarmiutaq on June 12, 2018

I whole heartedly agree with Towtongie. The sales of country food should be restricted or the Kivalliq will end up like the Baffin - very low caribou population, restricted hunting.
GN has the power to step in an make a difference, here are some ideas:
- Businesses can only sell country food
- Issue tags for meat that can be sold to the businesses
- Restrict social media sales of country food
- Limit amount of country food sent by airlines, especially during spring and fall (10,000lbs a week is too much) if we continue to send that much a week, the caribou herd will die out in a couple of years
- Large fines for poachers
I want to teach my grandchildren, although I do not have any yet, the traditional way of harvesting, and preparing country food. Quvianaittuugaluaq tuktulirittailikmata inuuqativut, kihiani tia’attainnaq piniaqtugut niqiqaqtinilungniarniruptugu. Qamanirjuaq herd can’t sustain Kivalliq and Baffin.

#12. Posted by Putuguk on June 12, 2018

Shame on you BQ Board!

What horrible advice “donate unused meat”.

If you are not going to use it, don’t shoot it! Simple.

#13. Posted by Not normally a fan on June 12, 2018

Hat’s off to Cathy for taking on these tough issues and speaking the truth, though a lot of people probably don’t want to hear it. This is leadership.

#14. Posted by Angry on June 12, 2018

#3…the best comment here!!

Make a quota and manage the stocks like everywhere else. Clearly people can not be left up to their own devices. As bad as I would want some caribou I wouldn’t give an Inuk a $1 for something they should be helping feed the community with. And go back to the traditional ways because you don’t really like the white people here anyway, right? Give back the rifles, the skidoos, the cigarettes…

#15. Posted by Martha Peet on June 12, 2018

Most non traditional hunters take the rump and tenderloin and leave the rest of the caribou out on the land.  Caribou hunting must require a tag before hunting for anyone.  The only people that should be allowed to hunt caribou are the ones who use all of the caribou that is edible; head, tongue, legs, shoulder blades, the guts, heart, etc.  Why do that?  There is an abundance of caribou.  No, there is no abundance of anything, take it for granted and it will be completely gone.  Poachers should be charged and not just pretend that it’s not happening; declining of the caribou is real.  Get on with it and do something for the big bucks you’re being paid to do in the first place.

#16. Posted by Land Claims on June 12, 2018

Blame it on the land claims.  Tell them to go back to drawing board have a referendum.  Don’t just complain have suggestions.  Lots of people in my home town sell dry meat leave the body cage just take the meaty parts.  Where is the highly paid Nunavut Wildlife Management Board suppose to look after our hunting interest. She of all people use to be the President of the NTI.  She knows the ropes, where to tug.

#17. Posted by Baffin on June 12, 2018

Kivalliq if your are not careful you will be like Baffin in a few years, not very many tuktu left and a quota system for Tuktu.

Think like our ancestors and take only what you need, nothing more and don’t waste the meat.

#18. Posted by Cathy on June 12, 2018

Cathy, are you running for Premier again?

#19. Posted by Changing the subject. on June 13, 2018

I hear that people who lived in the south Kivalliq are getting an apology
and compensation for moving into town ?
Does this not apply to all Inuit ?
Are regional politicians looking after this for all the people of

#20. Posted by all in on June 13, 2018

Cathie is spot on.

NTI needs to step in with a clarified interpretation of harvesting rights for Inuit, since this situation couldn’t have been foreseen at the time the Claim was being written.

Keep up the good work Cathie, BQCMB. Time to call on the Minister of Environment and NTI to man up.

#21. Posted by iThink on June 13, 2018

#20 I find it hard to believe this situation could not have been foreseen at the time of the lands claim. Maybe there wasn’t much appetite to deal with the specifics then. Though I believe there are mechanisms embedded in the NLCA that are meant to deal with this.

#22. Posted by Wannabe on June 13, 2018

Have Inuit adopted into brought up system? This kind of system is likely to be opposed. It has happen around the world. Inuit controlled their own ways of life within the camp, village and family. Even through the ways that colonial does not accept and take as pothetic ways. Inuit had leaders too but they are not the way which is used right now. Somehow this approch to help natives have a better feauture lack respect of the people it is trying to help. Maybe making the responsible people pay by find or jail time helps. But both of these are curel no compassion. Once upon a time. Inuit had leaders and the leaders made other leaders who will be responsible of well being of the camp, village and the families. Because the leader by himself can not provide love to everyone he made the men of the families leaders of the family.

#23. Posted by Reality Elder (Cambridge Bay NU.) on June 14, 2018

The good old days ??
You forgot to mention infanticide, starvation, incest, greed, living like
rats in a stinking nest.
Some of our ” leaders ” were very selfish human beings.
My family were looked down upon by some other Inuit people, but
when we moved to town some of us got labouring jobs, and some
people got really jealous.
I thank those Celtic men for showing us a good and proper work ethic !

#24. Posted by Finally! on June 17, 2018

Finally something is being said! These facebook groups selling tuktu is getting to much. People sell tuktu like it’s water. Thousands and thousands of pounds of caribou being shipped out weekly. Airlines making it cheaper or free to ship added to it just made it worse. Someday kivalliq will be just like baffin.

#25. Posted by rankiner on June 17, 2018

no everyone is rich like you cathy

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