Kivalliq calving grounds at centre of petition to remove KIA president

Rankin Inlet’s hunters association takes issue with statements made at Nunavut Planning Commission hearing

Andre Aokaut, Kangiqliniq Hunters and Trappers Organization executive director, is one of the people leading a petition to remove Kono Tattuinee as Kivalliq Inuit Association president. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

This article was updated at 1:20 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2022

Members of the Kangiqliniq Hunters and Trappers Organization believe they finally have the attention of Kivalliq Inuit Association after filing a petition calling for KIA to remove its president, Kono Tattuinee.

The hunters launched the petition Oct. 12 and since then, 202 KIA members have signed it: 100 each from Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet, and one each from Naujaat and Coral Harbour.

The petition asserts that Tattuinee is not properly representing KIA members, said the hunters organization’s executive director Andre Aokaut.

“[KIA’s] not listening to their beneficiaries, their people — ourselves along with other community members,” he said in an interview.

The issue stems from September, when members of HTOs from the seven Kivalliq communities got together for a hearing about the Nunavut Planning Commission’s draft land use plan.

At that meeting, Tattuinee allegedly said he wants KIA to have the ability to allow mine exploration on caribou calving grounds, according to the petition.

Video from the meeting shows Tattuinee stating, “Any development on calving grounds would only occur after thorough consultation — thorough — with affected communities.”

KIA “would only consider supporting development of a mine in a calving ground under very specific conditions,” he said, including that a potential mine may be underground and only operable during non-calving periods.

The petition states that these words “dismissed the demand by Inuit of the Kivalliq” that these areas be closed to mining exploration.

The hunters also claim Tattuinee broke a KIA bylaw by not allowing Aokaut to cast a vote at an Oct. 5 regular board meeting, during a discussion on a mine expansion.

The petition includes a third allegation, that Tattuinee violated another bylaw the next day by not allowing Aokaut to table a motion to stop mine-related road construction in order to protect caribou migration routes.

Tattuinee declined an interview request from Nunatsiaq News, and the Inuit association also declined comment.

However, in a letter posted to the KIA website on Oct. 13, Tattuinee called the hunters organization’s claims “unsubstantiated and unfounded.”

He wrote that KIA puts “the highest importance to the protection of caribou, while considering any potential economic development opportunities that will benefit the region as a whole.”

Tattuinee wrote, “No decisions have been made by the Kivalliq Inuit Association with respect to development on the calving grounds.”

Kangiqliniq Hunters and Trappers Organization chairperson Harry Ittinuar said the organization is starting to speak up about protecting the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd. (Photo by David Venn)

Harry Ittinuar, chairperson of the Kangiqliniq Hunters and Trappers Organization, said protecting caribou is more important now because Rankin Inlet hosts one of the largest herds left in North America, the Qamanirjuaq herd.

“We are starting to speak up,” Ittinuar said. “We won’t just stand by anymore.”

Ittinuar said KIA was not willing to meet with the hunters organization prior to the petition. But now, he said, it is trying to schedule a meeting.

“As soon as we did something about this and got their attention, now we mean something. In the past, they didn’t have time for us,” Ittinuar said.

He added he wants organizations to come together to form a good management plan for calving grounds.

Ittinuar said if regional Inuit association’s board doesn’t act on the petition, the hunters will forward it to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., KIA’s parent organization.

Whale Cove’s Issatik Hunters and Trappers Organization chairperson, Simon Enuapik, said he has not signed the petition.

Inuit of the Kivalliq chose Tattuinee to represent them, Enuapik said, and that should be respected. He said he wants to see what other options are available before committing to asking Tattuinee to resign.

On the matter of keeping calving grounds open to mining exploration, however, Enuapik is firm.

“We are totally against that,” he said in an interview. “We don’t want it to be disturbed.”

His message to KIA is that the rocks, minerals and gold aren’t going anywhere and can be left for future generations if they want.

“Why are they in a hurry when the rocks won’t even move? One day, they will [mine],” Enuapik said.

Aokaut agreed, saying his children and grandchildren can operate a mine once they are ready.

“We need all these young graduates to go back to university to get into this mining stuff,” Aokaut said. “That way our resources stay within the territory and locally.”

This article has been updated to include Kono Tattuinee’s written comments, from a letter he posted to KIA’s website Oct. 13.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Honest question on

    Who funds these HTO places? Is it the KIA or is it green peace?

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    • Posted by Sam on

      NWMB under funds all HTOs in Nunavut. HTOs seem to be the only organizations that proactively represent their stakeholders.

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  2. Posted by Karl on

    Harry jumping the gun here, the review process is still underway and no decisions have been made, is this more about the loudmouth who had a key position within KIA that could of continued to work within the organization to help steer the organization to what he wanted instead of publicly putting the organization down knowing the review process in not completed yet.
    Emotions taking over, complete the review process and get the facts first, once that is done a decision will be made.
    These guys don’t look good at all, Harry get the full picture first and keep your emotions in check.

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    • Posted by Sam on

      Karl, looks like you need to check the facts before opening your loudmouth. KHTO invited Kono many times this past year but he never had the time. Check Kono’s statement on NPC Hearings for yourself. He already has a plan on how he will develop the calving grounds. I think the loudmouth you’re referring to actually heard the Inuit and spoke up privally about the facts, maybe thats why he was fired without cause and than spoke up? What do you know?

  3. Posted by Taxpayer on

    For years, Rankin Inlet residents, Kivalliq Leaders, MLAs, and even the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board have expressed concern over the unrestricted market hunting of caribou. The herd is declining 2% per year. The Caribou Management Board is meant to track harvesting in its annual report with assistance of HTOs. 2020/2021 No harvest estimate. 2019/2020 No harvest estimate. No harvest estimate going back years and years. This is even though the Board takes pride in the economic value of the herd, and will happily tell you how many millions of dollars worth of steaks the herd produces. One of the primary responsibilities they have is figuring out how many are being shot and they cannot or will not accomplish this. Seems they cannot find the time away from blaming other things and other people for things yet to be even considered or decided to figure out how they themselves are impacting the herd. They must suspect that some hunting regulation is coming, but this appears to be more of a problem for the HTOs than the possibility they are driving down this herd. Co-management between all users, government and the HTOs is obviously failing this herd, even after millions in public funds spent. Perhaps someone is finally starting to get a firm handle on how many are being hunted and sold, which is in of itself, against our culture, which the HTOs should be upholding. How obvious can this deflection be?

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    • Posted by Northern Inuit on

      it would be interesting to obtain the number of country food that has flown out by cargo from each Region. not only Rankin Inlet but Taloyoak as well.

      every flight that you see going out of Taloyoak, you can see bins upon bins of caribou meat. each one has netted the hunter $500 per plastic bin. the stores cannot bring enough in to sell in the Community. although it is nice to have that option for Communities that are not lucky enough, it’s scary to see posts on FB Marketplace “caribou for sale, pre pay now I need to get some supplies $450.”

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    • Posted by Culture Shock on

      In our culture, there was no $$, the roads were always a 2 way street, we helped each other in ways we can “each other” being the key word here. Folks have made it a habit to use bits and pieces of our culture to their advantage. Families that received help from a hunter woupd normally return the favour in ways they can, maybe an exchange for sewing clothes or trade for something else. I don’t see hunters being offered free equipment at all from any stranger but they are expected to provide free country food. Do you? Hats off to the hunters that sell country food for the fraction of the costs of beef steaks!

      • Posted by New culture on

        Today things have changed, dollar sign show up when you see caribou, before you would take what you need, now you take more than what you need to make money.
        More and more do this now, at some point the caribou will be at its breaking point from the hunters, this road and project has a smaller effect on caribou then what the hunters are putting on the caribou, but we don’t like talking about that,
        There is more pressure put on caribou by hunters today then anything else. As we move more into seeing dollar signs instead of caribou’s the population of caribou will collapse.
        It’s just a matter of time.

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