Fund will help Nunavut hunters fuel up this spring

GN, NTI to offer one-time gas subsidy to Nunavut harvesters.



IQALUIT — Nunavut hunters who’ve been hit hard by high fuel costs may soon get help gassing up.

Last week, the Nunavut government and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. announced a joint project to subsidize the cost of gasoline for hunters and trappers who qualify for the program.

The subsidy will come in the form of a one-time $300 grant, which is expected to be available sometime in March.

Hunters who depend on gasoline to power their snowmachines and boats, and who need naphtha to fire their stoves, have been socked recently by soaring fuel prices in Nunavut.

Due to worldwide increases in the costs of crude oil, fuel costs in the territory jumped by an average of nearly 14 cents per litre in November. The price of a litre of gas is now approaching nearly $1 in some communities.

That’s the case in Kugluktuk, where gas is 98.9 cents per litre, said Peter Taptuna, manager of the community’s hunters and trappers’ organization.

Taptuna said Kugluktuk hunters in search of wolves or wolverines take as much as 25 gallons of gas on a day’s snowmobile outing.

That amount would cost them well over $100. Not surprisingly, such sky-high prices have cut down the hunting effort in Kugluktuk.

“It’s had a major effect, for sure,” Taptuna said. “Some of these older folks who usually take a weekend trip with their relatives, they don’t do that any more. It just costs so much.”

And when boating season begins in the summer, hunter’s expenditures on fuel could climb even higher. The $300 payout will be useful to hunters, but they could certainly use more, Taptuna said. “Although it helps a little bit, people are saying it’s not sufficient.”

According to Bert Dean, the wildlife department director with NTI, the gas subsidy will be administered under the Nunavut Hunter Support Program. An initial $160,000 will be available to the program, with the GN and NTI each contributing half the cost.

If demand warrants it, another $160,000 could be directed to the subsidy.

The money will only be available to “intensive hunters,” people who hunt full-time and don’t hold a year-round paid job. They can work seasonally, but their annual income must be under $40,000.

Most of their diet must derive from country foods.

Applications for the program will be available through wildlife officers and HTOs in each community. Those groups will administer the program, deciding if each applicant qualifies for the subsidy.

Dean said that though the current subsidy is a single-time pay-out, NTI may explore adding a permanent fuel subsidy into the Hunter Support Program.

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