Nunavut premier hears discontent over caribou quotas and meat sales at NTI meeting

“We also have to think about our future Inuit … we have to do a balancing act so we can give Nunavummiut what they need and also future Nunavummiut”

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq talks to the annual general meeting of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. in Cambridge Bay on Tuesday, Oct. 20. (Screenshot)

By Jane George

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, who is also the territory’s environment minister, got an earful from regional Inuit leaders about his government’s handling of caribou at the Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay.

“Inuit are used to relying on caribou and we’re used to shooting caribou and just eating them as we need them,” Savikataaq said on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

But with Nunavut’s caribou herds in decline, “we can’t do that anymore if we want them for our future generations. And these are hard decisions,” Savikataaq said.

After he spoke to the NTI delegates from the Kitikmeot, Kivalliq and Qikiqtani regions, Savikataaq heard complaints about recent quota cuts to the caribou harvest in western Nunavut and about the sale of caribou meat between regions.

Stanley Anablak, the president of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, said the consultations leading up to a big reduction in the total allowable harvest from the Dolphin and Union herd sidestepped his regional association.

In September, the Nunavut government limited hunting of Dolphin and Union caribou, citing a recent steep decline in the population and recommended an interim total allowable harvest of 42.

At the meeting, Anablak also said he wants the KIA and other regional Inuit associations to be involved in any wildlife issues affecting their regions and to be able to appoint members to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

Savikataaq acknowledged that the consultations about the changes to the quota for the Dolphin and Union herd had been done over the phone during the pandemic. Consultations would improve in future discussions, he said.

“We’re there to work here with everyone. We want to make any wildlife decisions for the benefit for Nunavummiut and the animals,” Savikataaq said.

The Government of Nunavut is mandated to make recommendations to the NWMB, and those can be “hard,” he said.

“When I make the recommendation to the NWMB for a total allowable harvest, it’s not an easy decision because I know I am infringing on (the) Inuit ability to eat caribou when they want,” Savikataaq said.

“But we also have to think about our future Inuit … we have to do a balancing act so we can give Nunavummiut what they need and also future Nunavummiut.”

Kono Tattuinee, the president of the Kivalliq Inuit Association, proposed that local airlines start to charge Inuit who want to send caribou meat as cargo to other regions for sale because, he said, “it’s getting critical.”

These sales are “putting a strain on our culture,” Tattuinee said. “We’re teaching the wrong message about the Inuit lifestyle.”

But Savikataaq said the government can’t stop the sale of caribou meat, because Inuit have the right under the Nunavut Agreement to sell or barter what they hunt.

To change that, the Nunavut Agreement would have to be reopened, he said.

“It’s totally on NTI if the NTI board wants to suspend the sale of caribou meat,” he said.

“It is not up to the government to infringe on the beneficiaries’ rights.”

Inuit can sell caribou even when there is a hunting quota, Savikataaq said.

Right now, the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd in the Kivalliq region is the largest in the territory.

But Savikataaq said the government does not believe it can keep providing Nunavummiut with all the caribou they want.

After Savikataaq left the meeting, discussion about ways to conserve caribou continued at the AGM.

During his presentation to the AGM, NTI’s vice-president James Eetoolook recounted how he had seen photos on social media of hunters just taking the caribou fat for sale and leaving the carcasses behind.

“We know that people who want to buy meat, [but] we have to do conservation with caribou,” he said.

AGM delegates suggested limiting the trade of caribou meat between the regions and promoting more awareness training with young hunters.

The NTI AGM continues through Thursday. To tune in, you can join the webinar, using the password: NTIweb2020 You can also watch through Facebook.

Or you can join in by phone at +1 647 558 0588; webinar ID: 828 9982 9448; passcode: 4761736934

Or you can watch on the NTI website.

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by Consistency on

    What will NTI do… my guess keep blaming the GN for putting restrictions on harvest but not actually try do anything within their power to help protect our wildlife for our future generations.

  2. Posted by Buy and sell on

    Rankin Inlet Buy and Sale Somebody Posted “Looking for caribou for my Family Will Pay $500” then Next Day Bunch of Hunter go and Catch Tuktu try and Sell it the Family.
    .
    Yes Time to Change Nunavut Agreement to Get With The Changing Times.
    .
    Family’s Are Getting Bigger To Not Like 100 Years Ago. Inuit Population Has Triple Maybe

    • Posted by greed on

      Likely the same hunters who are only hunting to make money.
      No shame these days in selling tuktu.
      Per tuktu- ammo $3-10 depending on how good a shot the hunter is.
      gas- $30
      gun- pennies, as it will be used for years
      quad/skidoo- not only used for hunting but transportation in town

  3. Posted by Old trapper on

    James Eetoolook did you see them leave behind the meat? And just removing the fat and leave the meat? I do that sometimes when there to much fat just remove most of the fat and start cutting the meat up stop saying what you didn’t see you just saw pics of fat it dont mean just fat was remove 🤬

    • Posted by Consistency on

      Well i have seen tuktu with ONLY the tongue removed and the rest left, so i can imagine some might take only the tunnuq. but i really hope not.

  4. Posted by wait a second on

    Imagine, the Birthright orgs pointing the finger at the Premier and GN over something that they control, hmmmmm that sounds familiar, LOL

    Good job Joe pointing them in the right direction. Let’s see what they do now. Wait… let me guess blame the mines!!!!!! or the Feds!!!! or hire a consultant!!!!

  5. Posted by Andrew on

    Must put consideration of mines in Nunavut, major impact on our wildlife, land and water, biggest impact on caribou. Why police Nunavut beneficiaries when you can police industry (mines) in Nunavut

    • Posted by Piitaqanngi on

      The industry is paying miilions to the government so GN will never police them. Why bite the hand that feeds you,eh?
      Whereas Nunavut Beneficiaries’ contribution to the GN’s bottom line is negligible. Besides, GN is not the beneficiaries’ government. It’s a public government so beneficiaries will be on the receiving end if GN decides to take anyone to court, not big industry.

    • Posted by Caribou hunter on

      Blame this on mine, Come on look at the Musk-oxen taking the feeding grounds and the wolves. Caribou or any animals go where they can feed and stay away from wolves, grizzly bears and Musk – oxen.

  6. Posted by delbert on

    Let Inuit hunt all the Caribou they want. After all other cultures have cuased other species to go extinct.

  7. Posted by Abraham Tagalik on

    NTI better pull up their pants ah? Do a covid payout for beneficaries.

  8. Posted by Hunter biden on

    As a hunter, I can keep the meat, or if my child is hungry for different kind of food then I can sell the meat. Don’t assume, just because one person did this. Mr. Vice president needs to be more wise!
    On the other hand he knows, that there is no jobs, or no soapstone in our community, his job is to help us with high cost of living not to add, burdens, no wonder, inuit are dying Noone is being a voice for us. Damn it!$

  9. Posted by James Panioyak on

    It’s a typical Government decision based on false information by 1 biologist, not an actual scientific fact where the local Inuit and the affected HTO’s were not consulted to begin with, also the Inuit Principals and Values were not used because the local Traditional Knowledge from the Elders and Hunters who know first hand how the Dolphin & Union Caribou Herd population differs from year to year based on the animals movements because of factures like the vegetation, predators and climate change were not used in the GN’s decision to put restrictions on the herd. I also believed that the Nunavut Government failed the Inuit of the Western Kitikmeot putting a limit on the caribou hunts during very uncertain times when the COVID 19 Pandemic is in it’s second wave which puts a lot of families in Food Insecurity because a lot of the hunters don’t have full time jobs to feed their families, and depend on the caribou to sustain their families and livelihood. Shame on the Government!

    • Posted by JFK on

      I agree with you James 100% No traditional knowledge brought forth in the biologist’s decision, have they actually gone out and see the land for themselves to connect with the environment? I’m guessing it’s an educated guess brought by southern influences using “science” .

      • Posted by Responsible harvester on

        With the restrictions comes more hunters focusing on the musk ox and moose and soon enough they too will be over harvested for them to make a good recovery
        The wolves that prey on the caribou are laughing at the caribou hunters now..up to 85% of the time hunters go harvest caribou, they are helping in the efforts of predator control as every time the hunters reach where the vulnerable herds may be – they surely run not some predators – mainly wolves that are taking more caribou than the allowable harvest hunters take. Shame on the government to throw off the balance on the dolphin Union herds. Might as well just say good bye to this caribou herd because sooner or later – the predators are going to decimate them. Especially from wolves . Hunters in the central Kitikmeot will be focusing on the other herds and conserving there populations as they always take a percentage of the problem away…100% of the time it’s the wolves that are among the herds and now with tight restrictions placed on the Dolphin Union herd might as well say good bye to this herd forever unless more stringent recovery plans are put into place….predator control with worthwhile bounties – not the measly $300 offered for the head,
        The NWT doing a great job of putting $1200 Bounty on the same wolves that come to Nunavut following the migration of caribou from all herds that winter around the treeline. When asked – our none of it premier won’t allow the $1200 bounty on the wolves “because” he says he is a weekend Hunter and takes many wolves , and his people will think it is for his ” own” welfare ! How shameful is that for every other wolf Hunter to be hearing what our leader is thinking !

  10. Posted by Sam on

    Stop the slaughter for profit,or there will not be anymore.

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