To boost COVID-19 prevention efforts, more Nunavut hamlets adopt booze bans

“It’s to reinforce what we’re supposed to be doing”

The consumption, possession, purchase, sale and transport of alcohol are all prohibited in Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island, as two 14-day special liquor prohibitions take effect. (File photo)

By Jane George

Two more Nunavut hamlets, Grise Fiord and Kinngait, have adopted bans on the possession of alcohol to improve compliance with the territory’s ban on gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These hamlets’ bans required special liquor prohibition resolutions to ban the consumption, possession, purchase, sale or transport of liquor for 14 days.

Grise Fiord, the most northerly community in Nunavut (and North America), is what Nunavut calls an “unrestricted” community, meaning its residents can order in the maximum amount of alcohol allowed by Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission.

But two back-to-back 14-day resolutions will change that status in Grise Fiord.

Its senior administrative officer, Marjorie Dobson, said the Hamlet of Grise Fiord recently passed two special liquor prohibition resolutions, one in effect from May 5 to May 18, and a second in effect from May 21 until June 3.

“It’s to reinforce what we’re supposed to be doing,” Dobson said about the bans: they will help to maintain social distancing, which becomes hard when people in this community of about 130 are faced with “the dangers of intoxication,” Dobson added.

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“I think people have … become sort of lax,” she said. “The council thought that the community needed to be protected, so it made that decision.”

If anyone contravenes a resolution and is found guilty, they can be fined anywhere from $500 to $5,000 or can be sent to jail for a term not exceeding 30 days, or they may receive a fine and time in jail.

The hamlet councillors in the south Baffin community of Kinngait, known until late 2019 as Cape Dorset, also passed a special liquor prohibition that will take effect on May 11 and end on May 24.

Kinngait, with a population of about 1,600, is usually a “restricted” community, whose alcohol education committee oversees all liquor orders.

But the hamlet wanted to see a resolution in place so people would follow Nunavut’s order on banning gatherings, Mayor Timoon Toonoo told Nunatsiaq News.

Toonoo said that having liquor around town triggers people to attend house parties, making social distancing impossible.

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The hamlet’s resolution also aims to reduce the number of people who end up in the local RCMP detachment’s cells, Toonoo said.

“There are too many people, many people going to jail,” he said.

Recently there have been 10 people in a single cell and the next day, 11 people, Toonoo said.

“If one of [the] prisoners had COVID-19, [a] lot of people would have been infected,” he said.

The special liquor prohibition could also help maintain the peace in Kinngait, which was recently rocked by an armed standoff.

According to the Nunavut Liquor Act, communities can pass special prohibitions three times a year: Cambridge Bay in western Nunavut took advantage of that option in late March.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by John K on

    Our leaders take this to an absurd point that approaches anthropomorphizing alcohol. We give booze all the power that it has here by making taboo and doubling down on prohibition will only make it worse; as it always has.

    It’s too bad we can’t learn from other people’s mistakes.

    • Posted by John D on

      The thing is: if people could drink sensible it would not come to this. There’s no ban like this in the south. It’s not a ban without merit. It’s a ban manifested out of misery, abuse, neglect. It’s a ban that takes wind from its own storm. I mean try and see if you can find a similar ban in the south? Not going to find it. There’s enough trouble for a permanent ban in the communities. Bootleggers galore, but all least it reflects reality, like if you can’t handle it, you will not get legal access at least.

      • Posted by Second class on

        In this year of our lord 2020, the pandemic year. If you find the only way for you to get alcohol is from a bootlegger, you need to examine your life and those around you very carefully. If you can’t go to a store to purchase a few beers , some liquor or a bottle of wine , you are among the minority of this world. There is something really wrong with the way you live or the way your neighbors are living.

  2. Posted by Northern Fender on

    Wow. Since the pandemic started, zero cases in Nunavut, but hey, we’re going to put this ban in place because we chosen few know what’s good for the rest of you. Arrogance in its truest form. As a veteran, I sit horrified while one by one, our freedoms are stripped from us by the elite.

    • Posted by Northern drinker on

      Forget about the pandemic for a moment. Even with no pandemic booze is not handled well where you live. Too much trouble. Therefore it has little to do with the virus preventive measures, and more to do with the ongoing behaviours with drinking in your community. It’s not like this is an otherwise quiet community that suddenly gets a ban, no way, this ban is very needed , pandemic or not. This ban is unique to the north. Most people wouldn’t allow it, but you have no choice because of the trouble otherwise.

      • Posted by Northern Fender on

        Then it should be clear that this is about substance abuse and not the pandemic. They’re lying I order to push an agenda. And by the way, history has proven that prohibition does not work, but let’s try it again and again…

        • Posted by Prohibition on

          Prohibition doesn’t work where you otherwise have many who enjoy and handle drinking sensible. But in your community prohibition works very well. If alcohol availability is cut off, and you have to turn to the bootlegger, that’s better because you are very inconvenienced. The trouble we see today in the community is not from the bootleggers, but from the more available by legal means. I’m against bootlegger very much, but I’m more so against abuse of innocent people from drunk idiots.

        • Posted by Push the agenda on

          So funny you. Lying you say to push the agenda. Like they’re keeping the truth from little children for their own good or something. I’m not surprised thou, that people don’t get it at all. It’s like trouble drinking will have no impact on the spread of the virus. Or it’s like we don’t have any threat because there’s no trouble drinking. You just don’t get it.

  3. Posted by Watching on

    normally all these people would not drink because they don’t,t want to work now with the 2000.00 a month help from cerb these welfare, child tax,dependants order booze and can,t handle it.Prayers for them.

  4. Posted by Putuguk on

    It is very interesting to me that these local alcohol bans have been put in place without public mention of the potential negative effects on alcoholics in these communities.

    In the absence of alcohol, they can experience medically significant withdrawal symptoms up to and including seizures and death. And. there are the additional perils of addicts turning to home brew or supposed substitutes.

    Many southern jurisdictions have gone the complete opposite way on this issue because of these concerns. Liquor stores are still open and in many places are considered an essential service.

    Would be good to know if these factors were weighed by local councils or whether this was more of a knee jerk reaction.

    • Posted by Always knee jerk on

      It’s always knee jerk reaction in regards to alcohol in the North. I’m not going to blame the powers to be for that either. With such horrific behaviour confined into small community life, any decision to ban alcohol is in my opinion a good decision. It’s the better of two evils, save life and limb or save the alcoholic from withdrawal. It’s the innocent kids and abused that we must think about first and foremost. Sorry but that’s the way life goes when a decision is made about concerning behaviour.

    • Posted by Priority on

      Have you heard about doctors trying to make decisions about who gets a ventilator and who they let die. It’s a difficult one. I’m not sure if any alcoholic, rightfully or not would be considered a priority in this pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying alcoholics are any less, but the mentality out there right now, is not going to see the alcoholic as a priority. Decisions are geared towards preventive measures of this virus, with saving lives, sorry alcoholic, it could be a bad time for you, good, bad or indifferent.

  5. Posted by The real drinker on

    For those of us who love our beer and a drink, we’re at the perils of those idiots who have ruined it for us all really. Most places yes, are seeing the sale of booze as essential, but in the North, due to idiots , they forever cause trouble with 2 or 3 drinks, we all suffer. The price of a drink in the North, when the trouble is factored in should be a project for research economics to figure out using jail time and hospital cost.

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