Amid a flood of alcohol, drugs and crime, a call to respect the law

“As Canadian citizens, we have to abide by the law”


Johnny Akpahatak, regional councillor for Aupaluk, and the tiny Nunavik community's mayor, speaks Dec. 1 at the Kativik Regional Government council meeting in Kuujjuaq. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

Johnny Akpahatak, regional councillor for Aupaluk, and the tiny Nunavik community’s mayor, speaks Dec. 1 at the Kativik Regional Government council meeting in Kuujjuaq. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

KUUJJUAQ — Police revealed the latest figures on crime and drug and alcohol seizures to Kativik Regional Government councillors on Dec. 1, the final day of their meeting this week in Kuujjuaq.

But some of the numbers delivered by police didn’t impress the councillors — either because they were too low, or too high.

From the beginning of September to the end of October 2011, police with the Kativik Regional Police Force seized more than $7,000 worth of illegally imported alcohol.

This booze would have been sold in Nunavik for about $62,000, Tristan Greene, the KRPF’s deputy chief of operations told councillors.

But no alcohol was seized in Kangiqsualujjuaq, leaving Kitty Annanack, its regional councillor and mayor, to question whether police are doing their job nabbing bootleggers because there was plenty of booze being illegally sold in town.

The same message came from Joseph Annahatak of Kangirsuk, the vice-chairperson of the KRG, who noted only $600 of illegally imported alcohol had been seized there over that two month period in his home community.

In fact, so much alcohol streams into Nunavik’s communities that Nunavik mayors and other elected officials, who met last week with Air Inuit managers in Montreal, begged the airline not to ship alcohol to the communities for arrival on the weekend, Annahatak said.

Alcohol isn’t the only substance police are seizing.

From September through October, police seized nearly 50 pounds of marijuana (22,316 grams), hash, hash oil, ecstasy pills (305) and crack cocaine bound for Nunavik communities like Umiujaq, population 500.

The total value of the drugs seized had a street value of $304,000 in the South, but would have been sold for than $1.2 million in the North, the KRPF said.

The good news — or bad depending on how you look at it — is that police seized more drugs between January and October 2011 than they did during the same period in 2010.

From January to October they seized a total of 41,962 grams (92 pounds of marijuana), 590 vials of hash oil, about 33 grams of crack cocaine and $54,630 cash for a total street value of $2.6 million in the North — an amount that still represents only a fraction of the drug market estimated by some to be as high as $30 million a year.

About 1,267 grams of marijuana was seized en route from Montreal to Aupaluk, which has only 150 residents.

Police did not say whether any arrests on narcotics charges had resulted from their seizures.

As for crime, police said from Jan. 1 to the end of October there had been a decrease in interpersonal and property crimes, firearms offenses and assaults.

Greene attributed the overall increase in crime (of about 10 per cent) to 12,000 separate criminal incidents for a population of 11,800 — mainly under 18 — was due to breaches of probation.

“This means that a prisoner may have release with conditions pending their court appearance and broke their conditions,” he said.

To KRG counsellors who complained about the lack of action in stopping bootleggers, Greene’s advice was to report bootleggers to police because “information is our power.” But sometimes it may take time to organize the case against them, he said.

Not everyone around the KRG table agreed with how southern-style justice is meted out.

Regional councillor Johnny Akpahatak, who is also the mayor of Aupaluk, complained about arrests for impaired driving (charges he has pled guilty to in the past).

During the first 10 months of 2011, there have been 857 cases of impaired driving.

Other councillors repeated the KRG’s official stance of a zero tolerance for drunk drivers, saying KRPF officers would arrest anyone for drunk driving.

“There are laws that are made in Canada, laws for all of the Canadians, and, as Canadian citizens, we have to abide by the law,” Maggie Emudluk, the chairperson of the KRG.

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