Northern caribou management board fails to secure budget boost

Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board called on governments to double its funding for the next 10 years

The Arviat Young Hunters Program was the recipient of BQCMB Culture Camp funding. (Photo submitted by the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Management Board)

By Meral Jamal

North America’s oldest caribou co-management board has been unsuccessful in doubling its funding for the next 10 years. 

The Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board works to protect the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq barren-ground caribou herds in collaboration with community members and representatives from the governments of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Saskatchewan along with the federal government. 

At its virtual meeting in December, the board approved a proposed new management agreement that would carry it through to 2032 and called on the governments it works with to increase their annual funding to the organization.

As part of the board’s decision to make Indigenous governments equal partners, it also asked its Indigenous groups — the Inuit of Kivalliq Region, Northwest Territory Métis Nation, Athabasca Denesųłiné, Ghotelnene K’odtineh Dene and Akaitcho Dene First Nations — to provide an additional $50,000.

The extra money would bring the board’s budget for the next 10 years to $300,000 annually. 

The board said it was looking to secure the extra money by April 2022, but to date, it hasn’t received any guarantees.

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Youth from northern Manitoba learn how to cut up caribou from an elder during a culture camp. (Photo submitted by the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Management Board)

Tina Giroux-Robillard, the incoming executive director of the board, said this is because governments including the government of Nunavut, are still confirming their funding allocations for the new fiscal year. 

“There’s a lot of different areas that are looking to pull the funding towards them and that’s one of the issues,” she said. “However, because of the importance of the caribou to the people of Nunavut and to the culture as a keystone species, I think everybody’s well aware of the importance of supporting the board, especially in light of how the populations are in decline.” 

For board chair Earl Evans, doubling the funding for the long term is essential, given the pressures herds are facing and the hunting restrictions some communities have had to implement due to the decline in caribou populations.

Chair Earl Evans in his element – setting up camp and passing lessons onto youth.

The pressures the two caribou herds are facing led to the board’s decision to support designating barren-ground caribou as a “threatened species” in Canada in June 2021. 

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According to Evans, the increase in sport hunting by people from out of territory over the past couple years hasn’t helped.

“People are going up with self-contained trailers and staying there along the ice road,” he said.

“They’re up there chasing wolves and looking at wildlife and all this is adding to disturbance … It’s like a cancer — once a few people go up and have a good time — pretty soon, there’s more and more and more [people].” 

From left: Executive Director Tina Giroux-Robillard; Matthew Tokaruk, Government of Saskatchewan BQCMB member; and James Laban, BQCMB member from Black Lake Denesuline First Nation. (Photo submitted by the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Management Board)

The board is also planning to update its caribou management plan this year. Giroux-Robillard said this is an important way to look at the impacts of climate change, harvesting, food insecurity and the pandemic on the caribou herds. She said increasing funding will help strengthen this work. 

“I think big issues … over the entire range is something that the caribou management board can really assist with — to co-ordinate solutions on how we’re going to try and stop the decline of the caribou.” 

While the board continues its 2022 programming with an annual budget of $125,000, for Giroux-Robillard the next step looks like continuing to work on doubling the funding, with an eye on 2023.

Clarification: This story has been updated to be more specific about the rise of sport hunting in Nunavut. 

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Super Dave on

    Sorry to have to say human factors will keep this decline as white man wants and wants and nations from our selfs wants and wants for whom can’t go harvest and sit and wait for government funds to help feed,
    Look at baffin or other places going on to Coral was first than baffin and now moving to the kivalik than kitikmuit next fighting how much quota systems happening,
    Humans becoming bad wolf’s it is becoming sad but ture.

    Hunter who seen

  2. Posted by Cam Bay on

    This is a bad example of Governments being out of step with opportunities to work with Important organizations. In this situation there is the underlying side bar of food insecurity, This is why we need to put every good effort into understanding and responding to issues. In our area there is only a few tags for Caribou and there hard to find even in the low numbers approved. People are suffering with way less available meat. Hunters are going far afield to get more for them selves and the community so this will effect other stocks. There is food sharing that further challenges areas with Caribou. I think the government know this and should be putting additional resources to important issues. The budget cant get much lower than its described in this article. Five or six governments and some Aboriginal Orgs should be able to sign on.

  3. Posted by Insider on

    Nobody owns the caribou herds
    Since day one – nobody owns the caribou herds. Person above says want want want. Absolutely right .so can I be a manager of a small group of caribou-with no herd name but all independent individuals , so I can also ask for a few million bucks – but I will stay and protect my own bunch of caribou . Like the Sami people- never leave any individual for any predators . I want only five million dollars and you will never hear from me again, that’s all.


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