Stray dogs really were a threat
I would like to comment on the RCMP report on the dog issue, which appeared in the Dec. 8 issue of Nunatsiaq News.
I totally agree with the RCMP report, which said they killed dogs for health and safety reasons.
When the people started to settle from their outlying camps into the present-day communities, Kangirsuk in my case, they brought in all their belongings, including sled dogs.
When you have 15-20 or more families come into the communities with their dogs, we found ourselves with 80-100 loose dogs roaming around the village, as it was an Inuit custom never to tie up their dogs.
And when the government started the programs of family allowance and welfare, some, if not most families did not go out to hunt for the animals that they traditionally relied on to feed their families and their dogs. Consequently, we had problems with hungry dogs, as they would start to steal food from people’s porches – there were no fridges or freezers in those days.
Some hungry dogs even started attacking people, especially children, in the hope of feeding themselves. I lost my beloved two-year-old sister as a result, in the early 1960s. A few years later, another family lost their five-year-old son to hungry dogs.
Such tragic incidents would have been avoided if the people had realized that their sled dogs were a threat to public health and safety. I can only assume that the governments and the RCMP tried in vain to inform the people that their loose dogs were a threat to public health and safety, all because they never tied up their dogs.
The government and the RCMP had no choice but to start killing them. The Inuit, for their part, could not just put away their dogs, as they were still fundamentally part of their lives.
I believe that the government and the RCMP should formally apologize to the Inuit for not properly informing them that they had to eradicate their stray dogs, but not compensate them financially. If compensation is due, it should be in the form of increased programs that go towards offsetting the high cost of shipping foods from the South.
If the government and the RCMP did not step in to kill the dogs in those days, how many more families would have suffered the same fate, from hungry dogs, as we did?