Nunavik’s alcohol seizures total $350,000 in street value so far this year

Regional councillors question police on illegal flow of alcohol into communities

Police seized 90 750-mL bottles of vodka at the airport in Puvirnituq on Sept. 12. (Image courtesy of the Kativik Regional Police Force)

By Elaine Anselmi

KUUJJUAQ—Nunavik’s airlines have effectively become the region’s SAQ, says Lucy Kumarluk, the regional councillor for Umiujaq.

“Drugs and alcohol are coming into the community,” Kumarluk said during last week’s meetings of the Kativik Regional Government council.

“There’s uproar: people yelling here and there. There’s alcohol freely flowing into our community because there’s no restrictions at all.”

The issue of contraband was a major topic of discussion with representatives from the Kativik Regional Government during the recent council meetings.

Just a day later, on Sept. 12, three packages were seized by police at the airport in Puvirnituq containing 90 750-mL bottles of Smirnoff vodka.

But curbing the flow of alcohol into Nunavik community is far from simple, said Kativik Regional Police Force captain Jean-Francois Morin.

“The Montreal police, we have a partnership, but for them to seize all of the alcohol in Montreal, it’s hard because it’s legal there,” said Morin. “Its’ bought legally at the (Société des alcools du Québec). So, we’re trying to work things out.”

Councillors also questioned the KRG’s department of transportation on stopping bootlegged alcohol from flying into their airports. An outside expert brought in to present on airport infrastructure clarified that searching checked baggage prior to boarding is beyond their jurisdiction.

The issue of alcohol entering communities isn’t limited to air passengers, said Salimuni Qavavauk, the regional councillor for Ivujivik. Regardless of airline passengers, he said, it comes in by mail.

From the force’s own statistics, there were more than 1,800 alcohol seizures this year into July, mostly involving 375 mL or 750mL bottles of hard liquor.

The value of that seized alcohol, to date, was $325,340 compared to $283,160 seized last year. In 2017, that value was $344,000.

Police chief Jean-Pierre Larose echoed Morin’s point that policing alcohol brought into communities is complicated by the fact that its initial purchase is legal. However, it’s then resold illegally at an inflated price.

By comparison, those smaller-sized bottles that are most commonly seized, for vodka, retail at $12.75 and $21.95 in Montreal. In Nunavik, they’ll sell for $100 and $250, respectively, according to information provided by the KRPF.

Police estimate the packages seized by officers at the Puvirnituq airport had a street value of $18,000.

“We are working with Air Inuit and Canada Post to work something out,” Morin said. “It’s complicated, it’s not easy.” He added that there were upcoming projects with Canada Post to address the issue of alcohol entering communities.

Councillors voiced frustration that when tips are given to police, it doesn’t seem like they’re followed up on. While a single tip may not be enough to move ahead with a seizure or arrest, Larose said, they do build towards it.

“We are gathering a lot of information and I understand that it is very frustrating for you. It is for me,” said Larose.

“We cannot go and seize some drugs or alcohol by only some information. If you just said to us, “this person is selling go and arrest them,” we need warrants, we need proof, to gather information.”

Any information concerning suspicious activities, including the illegal sale of drugs and alcohol, can anonymously be disclosed to Crime Stoppers by dialling the following toll free number: 1-800-711-1800. Information received may qualify for a reward of up to $2,000.

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(22) Comments:

  1. Posted by Everyone blaming the other guy on

    I always love councils that blame the import of liquor to the communities on the police.
    Number 1 reason for it being brought into the community is because there is NOTHING TO DO… Council should step up and look for solutions – stop blaming everyone else… This is the community problems, need community solutions not “oh lets say the GN isn’t doing their job, the RCMP aren’t doing their job, the church isn’t doing their job, the schools aren’t doing their job.” It’s always easier to blame an institution rather then the actual people doing it (which are probably you neighbors and don’t give a “F” about the community). wah, wah, wah…
    Oh and prohibition NEVER worked anywhere!!!

    • Posted by Next time, try reading the article on

      Yet another keyboard warrior no-nothing who starts typing without a clue what they are talking about.

      This article is about Nunavik. NUNAVIK. Meaning northern Quebec.

      This means there is no Government of Nunavut and no RCMP. I guess you missed the part of the story that talks about the Kativik Regional Police Force and the Kativik Regional Government.

      Next time, read the article first. You will reduce the chance of making a complete fool of yourself.

      • Posted by Next time, try reading the comment on

        #2 you are getting hung up because he said “RCMP”? well if he had said KRPF he would still be correct. Next time, actually read the comment first. “You will reduce the chance of making a complete fool of yourself”

      • Posted by Everyone blaming the other guy (2) on

        To “Next Time”. This was a general statement… this is probably the 6th or 7th article from Nunatsiaq in the last 6 months about how a different little northern community is saying the RCMP/KRPF/GN/KRG (whatever) isn’t doing their jobs when it comes to liquor and is NOT a responsibility of the ACTUAL community… then after the article is published the story goes onto the next community, who has the exact same issue with the few drunks that live next door and rune it for everyone. (don’t tell me it’s not the same 5% of the community who are to dumb to drink responsibly).
        I bet 1 billion dollars the next article about some liquor thing will be a council complaining that the powers that be (RCMP/KRPF/GN/KRG) aren’t doing their job,
        Don’t worry “Next Time” there will be an article on your community eventually if your feeling left out.
        Lets get a beer and wine store in Cambridge and Rankin…. 🙂

        • Posted by Everyone blaming the other guy (3) on

          Dang it… Guess I owe 1 billion dollars…

          “Rankin Inlet man faces charges for impaired driving”. The next article lol…
          Idiots will be idiots, which is why it ruins it for the rest of society. (but I still would say this guy is in the 5% of dummies).
          And OMG the RCMP did their job (way to go guys).

          On another note – BAN all ATV’s on public community roads in town… They are unsafe and not road legal.

          • Posted by Have a cold one on

            For many of us, it’s entertaining. Yes, many of us sit with our cold beer and listen and watch all this entertaining situations. It’s serious, but it’s in another world, a few houses over there somewhere. Open your window at night for the yelling and screaming. Grown men and women after consuming some beer, crying over someone that died 30 years ago. Out fighting, half dressed, urinating beside the house. Shouting loudly, sounds of no teeth people drunk and wasted to the gills. This is in full bloom on full moon nights, and bingo time. And some wonder why alcohol is not readily available in Nunavik. Give me back my beer.

  2. Posted by Big men, little boys on

    So funny really. Bought legally in one part of Quebec, and brought to inuit land, where it’s illegal because of can’t Handle the stuff. Why is it illegal in Nunavik? Answer: they go crazy, they bother each other day and night, they drive drunk, and have big accidents, they even shoot the gun off at each other. People don’t get that at all. The talk goes as though it was some rights to one, and wrongs to the other. But it’s not that at all, it’s illegal for a damm good reason. Things are so bad in Nunavik and many northern communities that, the law should be changed so that searches are mandatory. I would not mind having my bag checked, nothing to hide, plus it could save a life, I’m in. It’s the big guys that takes the little mans liquor, because little, grown men can’t handle it.

  3. Posted by Rinse & repeat on

    Prohibition is part of the problem but here in the north we are slow on the innovation and problem solving stuff, we just do the same crap that has been shown not to work, over and over, nothing is ever solved this way nor will it be. Rinse and repeat…

    • Posted by Please tell us.. on

      So what do you suggest will help? I’m really curious about how you would approach it.
      Absence of alcohol makes a quiet, secure community for the rare times there is none, so prohibition seems to be the only way for now. Until the lunatics that come out of a human being after a drop of alcohol in their system learn to drink responsibly.

      • Posted by Rinse & repeat on

        You tell me how they are going to learn to drink responsibly under the prohibition regime?

        • Posted by DollCommon on

          Treatment, support, sources of hope for the future.

          • Posted by You cannot drag or force a person on

            You cannot drag or force a person to go to treatment, it has to come from the person him/herself, if in need of treatment, request support etc.

            There are facilities that are available but, a person normally does not want to see a trigger or flashback it will worsen their situation.

  4. Posted by Go see on

    For those that fail to see, do this: go to where they sell beer and wine. Wait a few hours, go to the local hospital or jail. See if you can match a face from where beer and wine is sold, to the face you see at the health center or jail. That’s a little game for you. And don’t forget, since you’re going to the hospital to match up your find, in the mean time ask about a family member who might have gotten beat up, and a kid who was taking by dyp.

    • Posted by Needs quantification on

      Nice story, but is it true?

      • Posted by Culture on

        Yes, nice story , not fiction. In puvirnituq a while back people took a break for a month I think it was, from drinking, on the request of the doctors and nurses. The medical community needed a break dealing with all the trauma from alcohol abuse. It worked out well. The police also got a nice break, as there were less calls for service in that month of absentee. There, it says a lot about quantification. What’s sad it that those that are the problem, are not the smartest in seeing themselves. We need to make those individual accountable for their actions. I urge everyone to condone public drunkenness at least. Make it unacceptable in your presence and in the presence of your children to not accept any drunken behaviour.

  5. Posted by Hyper Shriller on

    Hello fouls and Big man, little boy.
    Actually many Inuit are quite drinkers.
    Some Inuit actually cannot handle any amount of alcohol. I say it again, some Inuit.
    There are also Nunavik communities which manage and others who do not prohibit.
    Guess which one has the most problems. Like drunks, poor work ethics, fearful community members, and health matters directly related to alcohol. Those who do not have prohibitions at all.
    On the plus side, crooks know how to make money for themselves.

  6. Posted by Lunatic on

    3 strikes out. That’s the way it should be. If you are a lunatic and do something serious, then you should be banned from drinking. And if you are a lunatic three times in a roll, even to the less serious bad behaviour, then banned from alcohol also. People really don’t learn well. The same old behaviour. It’s so sickening how people that drink, and as they take their first drink, knowing they will be lunatic as the night progress. If people would drink, and stay in one place, it would be fine. But no way, they have to go bother next door, or a family member, or they have to go for a drive around town. They are now the bravest soul on the road. Then, they’re in medivac or jail. You see their new car in the ditch. The cost of a beer is incredible in north, but add to the cost, the medivac. The lost wages, the lost of children. A photo like the one shown would not even be news, if it weren’t for the lunatic drunk.

  7. Posted by Eager on

    Really good thing that those bunch of Smirnoff have been taken!. Inuit are really eager to have alcohol & beers all over Nunavik & Nunavut and most of them can NOT drink wisely; always always end up violence towards each other. Alcohol and drugs are not restricted in Inuit communities, who’s going to start think about that?

    There are fellow Inuit who have smart ideas and we don’t get attention from councillors, managers, executives, committees, etc.

    Come on we are in 2019! WAKE UP INUIT!

  8. Posted by 5%ers on

    lol alcohol is the running joke in the north… It’s the same exact 5% of the community populations that are ALWAYS on the court docket. Go ahead you can see online exactly who is in court each time…
    Google the section code and you’ll get an idea of what they did.
    Idiots always ruining it for everyone else. Alcohol isn’t bad, just like guns aren’t bad. It’s how and who uses it.
    If laws were stricter and harsher for those few idiots who “want to quit but can’t”, it would be a better society. If they can’t help themselves then make the laws fix it. (PERIOD)

    • Posted by Nunavik Kativik Police! on

      Can’t you read!

      They are not RCMP from NUNAVUT!

      They are NUNAVIK KATIVIK POLICE, LOOK AT THEIR UNIFORMS, They Have NANUK crest on their shoulders!

  9. Posted by Nunavimmiuq on

    Thanks to your Ancestors whom brought alcohol and drugs way beginning arriving to North for the first time, to make money out of Inuit!

    Thanks to Inuit you have jobs, you put food on the table, thanks to Inuit again.

    There are higher greater problems in south, you love making fun of Inuit? well look at yourselves!

    I am a victim of being stabbed twice behind my head from French man from Quebec City while I was doing my nature call in a washroom! *~* by racial act!

    But I am very thankful how Kativik Regional Police Force did a good a job, those liquors sure would destroy few livers, our organs very sensitive, yet, they are not RCMP Officers, they Kativik Police from Nunavik. Good job guys! I applause your successful work

  10. Posted by Nunavik on

    Hello Officers, felicitation encore!

    Please calculate your alcohol seizure right, those are worth $27,000.00 right in the picture, if I still remember 10 oz liquor use to cost $300.00 per 1 miki, lol

    People who sell with out a license are only thinking about them selves while their buyers goes out of control, causing greater violence, abandoning their wives and kids, drinking for days *~* ouch!

    Aarqigialauritsituuq! piarairtautuiinnaqattaratsi, please at least wake up and slow down drinking, so, you will not lose your children through justice system. Stop blaming Social workers and Court, it is you, from your drinking, it was not your Grandparents culture, asiujilirattai inutuqaapittini, we are losing our elders, that carries wise words, land & sea knowledge, ice conditions etc. If you don’t want southerners to take over your children, and lose their mother tongue. ATIITUQ IKULLALAURIT!

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