Iqaluit dog team society raises concerns over draft bylaw

Proposed changes could affect who can take part, and penalize owners for noisy dogs

Amber Aglukark feeds a piece of seal to the dog team she helps out with in Iqaluit. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Emma Tranter

Amber Aglukark hooks a piece of seal meat from a blue plastic bin and holds it in the air. Nearby, a sled dog reluctantly sits and waits for her to drop it, before sinking its teeth into the soft flesh.

Aglukark takes more pieces from the bin, feeding the rest of the sled dog team that she helps out with in Iqaluit.

“It’s an exciting day for them when they get seal meat,” she said, hooking another piece.

Aglukark is president of Iqaluit Qimussiqtiit Katimajingit, the society that represents dog team owners there. She’s also a longtime musher.

“Our goal as a society is to revitalize Inuit sled dogs, and education for youth and young adults interested in becoming dog team owners and helpers,” she said.

To do that, she works with and encourages youth, like her 10-year-old son, to run dog teams.

But a draft bylaw from the City of Iqaluit could potentially change that. If approved, one section would bar anyone under 18 from travelling with a dog team unless they’re accompanied by an adult.

“We have kids that are 16 and running with their friends,” Aglukark said.

“It does put a little stress on some of our youth. They’re going to feel restricted. We don’t want them to feel restricted from learning and gaining these new skills.”

The city distributed the draft bylaw, called the Canadian Inuit Dog Team Bylaw, to dog team owners in Iqaluit earlier this month. It has not yet been presented to city council.

In an email to Nunatsiaq News, the municipality’s economic development officer Geoffrey Byrne said the city can’t comment on the draft because it is still in development.

Amber Aglukark gives one of the sled dogs some attention at the West 40 dog yard on Wednesday. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

“We are actively engaging the dogsledding community in Iqaluit for feedback, which will be followed with a review from our public safety committee before this document will be presented to city council for its first reading. After such a time we will be able to discuss the proposed bylaw,” Byrne wrote.

The city’s current dog team bylaw dates back to 2001.

Aglukark said she’s working with the society to put together concerns and comments from the rest of Iqaluit’s dog team community.

“We want to provide positive feedback to them, but also make sure they know this bylaw doesn’t exactly meet what our society represents,” she said.

“We are hoping and confident in working with the city to make sure it does coincide with our objectives and city bylaw,” she said.

Another section of the draft bylaw states dog team owners could be fined over barking dogs.

A sled dog licks its lips after enjoying some seal on Wednesday. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

With most dog teams residing at the West 40 area of the city, Aglukark said the dogs are usually pretty far from residential areas.

“Obviously, dogs do make a lot of noise. These are sled dogs, they are trained and in a controlled area,” she said.

Aglukark said although she and the organization have some initial concerns about the draft bylaw, she’s hopeful the city and mushers can come together to draft a final bylaw that works for everyone.

“As dog team owners, obviously we have to be held accountable … We’re eager to make sure it works for the whole society,” she said.

Aglukark said she and a few others from the society plan to meet with the city in the coming weeks.

“It’s quite clear that the draft needs work and overall our objectives speak for themselves,” she said.

“This is our outlet. This is our go-to, and to ensure that we can keep strong as a community we want the city to be able to provide us that support and opportunity to keep doing what we love.”

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by still here on

    amazing the concern for dog sled teams when Iqaluit has a rampant issue with small dogs being loose by their owners, stopping traffic and scaring children, crapping and urinating everywhere. Dog sled teams have a use, loose dogs do not have a use and need to be apprehended. Maybe we should be able to go around and mark dogs that are always loose with a low powered paint ball gun? Maybe than bylaw would do something on a consistent basis.

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    • Posted by Damned if you do on

      Double-edges sword. Dogs roam around free, ignored by their owners, feeding off scraps. By-law picks them up and nobody claims them. SPCA then picks them up and finds a loving family for them down south and then suddenly its an outrage “They’re taking our dogs and selling them down south for lots of money”. Nobody seems to care about these dogs until they hear that they’ve been relocated to a better place. And yes, the loose dog problem is a Nunavut problem.

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      • Posted by quilly on

        This isn’t about the problem with pet dogs that people let loose and ignore. That certainly is a problem that the city should be addressing. It’s not even about loose sled dogs.
        This is about sled dog teams. It’s about the supposed noise that the city seems to be claiming they cause, and supposed problems caused by people under 18 who run the dogs. I say “supposed” because I’ve never, ever heard anyone complain about those things.

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    • Posted by true dat! on

      I agree! this by-law is absolute nonsense. Mayor Bell said kids are bored so they do dumb stuff like throwing rocks at cabs. Now youth occupies time with dog team and city wants to make a stupid by-law to increase the age limit? By-law officers should deal with all the loose dog in town.

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  2. Posted by oh ima on

    I see colonialism is still being practiced today by southern so called liberal loving people!

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    • Posted by John K on

      Iqaluit city council is at least half Inuk.

      Some things are our own fault … sorry.

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  3. Posted by Baffinqimmiq on

    Inuit we are down sided by this by law movement,city by law has limit.. to this point the dog owner of iqaluit are not inuit.. dogs are free before city can approve any type of bylaw, outfitter should be rejected there for

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  4. Posted by Proposed By-Law on

    Here’s a good idea, how about a by-law for no smoking pot and drinking outside North Mart?

    I’m pretty sure one already exists, but nobody enforces it so maybe the City should enforce by-laws they already have instead of making new ones.

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  5. Posted by BARK on

    Maybe do more about all the dogs barking in town? It’s impossible to keep the window open on warm days without going insane from barking!

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  6. Posted by Northern Guy on

    I know a lot of 16 and 17 year old dog handlers who are far more experienced, conscientious and skilled than the some of the so-called adults who currently own dog teams. No better way to kill the sled dog community in Iqaluit than barring 16 and 17 year old kids from participating. Really dumb idea!

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  7. Posted by quilly on

    Who on earth asked for this bylaw? I’ve lived all over town, and the least annoying sounds are the sled dogs, and even then, I really don’t hear them. It’s super bizarre. I’d love to know what the motivation for this bylaw is?

    Also, to keep sled dogs from making noise (if that is even possible, lol), someone would literally have to live where the sled dogs are kept. Where they are kept isn’t zoned for housing though, and the dogs can’t be kept where housing is. So do are they saying they just don’t want sled dogs to exist here? Because that’s the message they are sending. Personally, I think they should really lean into the fact that there are so many dog teams here, and work with and support the owners to promote the fact that there are dogs here. The city would benefit from it.

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  8. Posted by kinakiaq on

    Look at North Baffin, they have amazing youth who are capable committed dog team owners. The dog teams here in Iqaluit aren’t even bothersome with their barking, it’s the damn loud dogs in town. Again, overlooking actual problems within our town and aiming towards nonsense.

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    • Posted by still here on

      what causes the dogs to bark in town?

      loose dogs
      public intoxication

      if the dogs are barking and those two are not prevalent than remove the dog from the owner, i find the smaller dogs are worse for barking than the larger dogs

      Also why make more bylaws if “bylaw” doesnt do the job we need done in the first place? city of iqaluit bureaucrats not councilors?

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