HTA members reject densely worded ballot

Rights-assignment question remains unanswered for now



Iqaluit’s Amarok Hunters and Trappers Association rejected an assignment-rights ballot at a members-only meeting on May 16.

“Many people didn’t understand it. They want a legal opinion,” said David Ell, Amarok’s chair.

Members were poised to vote on whether Inuit can assign hunting rights to other Inuit and non-Inuit. The ballot, drawn up by the HTO’s board, is a densely worded, four-page document.

The ballot went back to the drawing board this week. It could take months before another ballot is drafted.

Under the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement, beneficiaries may transfer their hunting rights to another person. The rule allows non-Inuit to provide food for their Inuit spouses. However, exactly who can hunt and what they can hunt has never been specified. The assignment of hunting rights is the responsibility of each community’s HTA or HTO.

In the past, beneficiaries have voiced concern about qallunaat who step off a plane, land an Inuit girlfriend — and become entitled to harvest big game such as whales and polar bears. The concerns are long-held and date back at least to division in 1999.

“This is a contentious issue that will be on-going,” said Sytukie Joamie, a member and former director of the Iqaluit HTA.

“The priority is the Inuit. [Otherwise], you’re taking away something allocated to beneficiaries through the land claim.”

The ballot listed several options for HTA members. One option limited hunters to harvesting small game and shellfish. Another option included big game such as polar bears and narwhals.

Ell hopes the matter is dealt with “sooner rather than later.”

“It’s kind of a setback. I was hoping it would go through, ” he said.

The ballot made no provisions for longtime, non-Inuit residents who are limited by the Wildlife Act to when and what they can hunt.

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