Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 07, 2017 - 9:00 am

Iqaluit beer and wine store marks new era for Nunavut

“We believe this is the right way to go in the evolution of our territory”

Nunavut Finance Minister Keith Peterson at the Sept. 6 opening of Iqaluit's new, highly restrictive, wine and beer store. “I believe prohibition has never worked anywhere. When people want alcohol, they’re going to find it,
Nunavut Finance Minister Keith Peterson at the Sept. 6 opening of Iqaluit's new, highly restrictive, wine and beer store. “I believe prohibition has never worked anywhere. When people want alcohol, they’re going to find it," Peterson said. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Video monitors on a wall inside the Iqaluit wine and beer store list 23 brands of beer and over 70 brands of wine. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Video monitors on a wall inside the Iqaluit wine and beer store list 23 brands of beer and over 70 brands of wine. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
The Iqaluit wine and beer store is located in an addition to the old liquor warehouse in Lower Base. Though the interior is finished, workers have yet to install exterior cladding. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
The Iqaluit wine and beer store is located in an addition to the old liquor warehouse in Lower Base. Though the interior is finished, workers have yet to install exterior cladding. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

Eight years after a government-appointed task force explored liquor use in Nunavut, the unveiling Sept. 6 of the territory’s first walk-in beer and wine store signaled a new era in Iqaluit, as customers quickly filled the store to make their first over-the-counter booze purchases.

Shortly before doors opened to the public, Nunavut’s finance minister, Keith Peterson, told local media that the store marks the realization of a recommendation made by Nunavut’s liquor task force in its 2012 report, which said a beer and wine store could curb binge drinking and bootlegging.

That report was followed by a 2015 plebiscite, when Iqalungmiut voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strictly-controlled government-owned beer and wine store.

“It’s been a long journey in the making,” Peterson said, shortly before making the store’s first purchase—a 12-pack of Corona.

Nunavummiut should have a choice if they want to consume alcohol, he said, before adding “I believe prohibition has never worked anywhere. When people want alcohol, they’re going to find it.”

“We believe this is the right way to go in the evolution of our territory,” he said, adding that both Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay voted in favour of beer and wine stores in dual plebiscites earlier this year.

Billed as a three-year pilot project, the store accounted for “most” of the roughly $2 million allotted to Nunavut’s Liquor Commission in the territory’s 2016-17 capital budget, said the assistant deputy minister of finance, Dan Carlson.

The store was originally scheduled to open during the summer, but construction has been slow. Most obviously, the building’s siding has yet to be put in place.

The result is an exterior covered in bright green Tyvek wrap, with a large white sign at the front of the building assuring customers that the store is indeed open.

But inside it’s a different matter. Televisions lining one wall list 23 brands of beer and over 70 brands of wine, as patrons make their way through a zig-zag queue to cash registers at the back of the store.

A “case,” or 12 beers, costs between about $30 and $40, depending on the brand, while a bottle of wine costs between $15 and $20.

But one thing you won’t find at the store: any wine or beer from the European Union.

Carlson said that’s a hangover from 2010, when South Baffin’s then-MLA, Fred Schell, successfully passed a non-binding motion boycotting European products in response to a seal-product ban imposed by the European Union.

That ban has since been lifted, but Carlson said it’ll be up to Nunavut’s next legislative assembly, which will be elected in October, to choose what to do.

“It’s a symbolic move and we’re still under that,” he said.

“This [fourth] assembly has chosen not to ask us to reverse it, the next [fifth] assembly might.”

Customers must first fill out an account before ordering, and store employees will relay the beer and wine from the adjacent warehouse after purchases are completed.

No physical beer or wine is on display within the store.

Approximately 800 people had pre-registered their customer accounts prior to the store’s opening, a Department of Finance spokesperson confirmed.

You do not need to be an Iqaluit resident to create an account at the store but Carlson noted it is up to the individual to respect the prohibited or restricted alcohol laws within their home communities.

While turnout at the beer and wine store’s first day of operation was strong, the store’s existence has not been without its share of critics.

Last year, Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Paul Okalik resigned from cabinet and has continuously sparred with Peterson over creating an addictions treatment facility ahead of the store’s opening.

Those sentiments were echoed later by Baffin mayors, who released a similar statement in favour of an addictions treatment centre in Iqaluit.

The last Nunavut-based addictions treatment facility, the Inusiqsiuqvik Treatment Centre in Apex, closed its doors in 1998 after operating for seven years.

After Sept. 6, Iqaluit’s beer and wine store will be open from noon to 7 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.

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(43) Comments:

#1. Posted by Steve L on September 07, 2017

I remember when it closed down after a spate of alcohol fueled violence.  It seemed like a good idea at the time. It had invaded the culture so badly that some artists would sell works for the price of a bottle and cab fare.  It did reduce problems, for a while, but was a broad brush approach. But to be honest a case of leftover sealift beer in in the summer was not something to look forward to.  A percentage of sales should be (if not already) be allocated towards addictions issues.

#2. Posted by Can it get any worse? on September 07, 2017

@1 did the alcohol fueled violence ever go away? This town is already mad without the beer store. We have to call the rcmp all the time because there are couples yelling and beating each other up. Nothing is ever done because they always kiss and makeup the next day.  This is not a way to live.

Even with a treatment center, you can only treat people who are willing to let go of their denile.

#3. Posted by Poster child on September 07, 2017

I’m glad that Keith Peterson is openly and willingly associating himself with the opening of this alcohol store. With elections coming up very soon, hopefully the people of Cambridge Bay will know not to re-elect him.

#4. Posted by really on September 07, 2017

Yes “poster child” i am sure prohibition is working great in cam bay.

#5. Posted by Concerned Inuk on September 07, 2017

The Minister and Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance cut the ribbon to the opening of the Iqaluit beer and wine store.

These two top GN officials know nothing about policy, just like the other GN officials involved in this “Halting the Harm” policy fiasco, all of whom know nothing about addictions!

On Finance’s website it says “The Nunavut Liquor Commission (the Commission) exists by authority of the Minister of Finance”, however, this is not true.  Nowhere in the Nunavut Liquor Act does is say the Minister of Finance has authority over the Commission.

To have Finance officials involved in decision making and communications regarding the beer and wine store is a public policy failure, and it’s existed since the Nunavut Liquor Act Review Task Force.  The Task Force report says “The submission of this report to the Minister of Finance is the culmination of twenty-seven months of hectic activity on the part of the Task Force.”

Public policy making in its lowest form!

#6. Posted by Steve L on September 07, 2017

#2 The violence subsided then slowly crept back up.  Sadly this is not just your local problem, most communities north and south share the same domestic discord problems to one degree or another.  Be glad you are not like some places where there is an outlet at every major intersection.  A local pharmacy is also the liquor outlet. One wall of booze the other pills and cosmetics and built like a fortress to prevent break-ins.
A lot of folks can drink in moderation but there are others who’s habit often ends up with injury or death of themselves or others.

I agree with my friend Abe Okpik, the kabloona should have stayed home.

#7. Posted by sheamus on September 07, 2017

#3 as if cam bay has anyone more qualified or experienced that Keith! You should be grateful and proud that the finance minister represents cam bay!

#8. Posted by sheamus on September 07, 2017

#5 based on your daily comments on here, I think you are the one without an inkling of what is policy and how it works. The “two top GN officials” you are referring to are top officials for a reason; meanwhile you continue with your shallow comments aimed at criticizing for the sake of criticizing.

#9. Posted by Wrong way to go in the evolution of our territory on September 07, 2017

#4 The Cambridge Bay Community Wellness Center seems to be doing good work though (which we don’t have in Iqaluit)

#10. Posted by sled dog on September 07, 2017

why so negative about everything concerned inuk. why not identifying yourself and demonstrate publicly how you know better than everyone else. please Try to enjoy some part of your life.

Congratulations to IQ, you are now on par with your counterparts in Southern Canada and NWT who can enjoy a cold one after work simply by dropping into a retail store.

#11. Posted by Whiner on September 07, 2017

Would be nice to get some wine from Europe.

#12. Posted by Putuguk on September 07, 2017

One definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

No open sales has gotten Nunavut to the point we have a society barely functioning due to alcohol effects.

We have had to endure 2 Premiers and the inaction of 3 Legislative Assemblies to get to a point when GN will actually do something.

I am very grateful that we have leaders in Nunavut finally that have the bravery to do something, and even something different to see if it can be made better.

I am also grateful we have leaders that are open minded enough to listen to advice and direction from broad public consultation and a plebiscite.

Thank you Peterson and Taptuna. They have done their part to provide choice and show respect to people as rational adults. 

Now it is up to the store customers to do their part.

#13. Posted by Concerned Inuk on September 07, 2017

Very typical of southerners who live in the north, not northerners, #8 and #10.

When those in the GN who make policy to deal with addictions, have no expertise in addictions, you call it criticizing for the sake of criticizing, and call what I say as negative about everything.

#14. Posted by Cold One on September 07, 2017

Congrats to IQ on the beer and wine store. Now to get rest of Nunavut on the same bandwagon. This is the new era and everyone has equal rights. As with the new era, we should be able to enjoy a cold one when the mood strikes. A cold one or couple glasses of wine is just that, a cold one. It is a social drink, not like the hard liquor that is readily accessible for all ages, even young teens. Thanks to the bootleggers. This will put a damper on bootleggers business, and if we had a outlet in every at community, then that would force most bootleggers to get an actual job. Yes, there would still be bootleggers, as there are still those select few who put a bad name to alcohol for the rest of us. They cannot legally order so they rely on BL’s. but these outlets in every community will take away roughly 60-80% of binge drinking as all of us social drinkers do not require hard liquor.  continued…..

#15. Posted by We hope on September 07, 2017

Kuujjuaq with beer and wine sales, and the results there of. Kuujjuaq has been selling the alcohol beverages for a number of years now, as many know. It’s so convenient to have that available, right there in the community. There’s many positive aspects to it. But a big price is paid for the few positive outcomes. There are the prices, which are incredibly high. Sixty dollars for 12 beers, and 30 dollars for 1 litre wine. Because of the restrictions and time slots, of when you can purchase, people are all preoccupied with the time and often the line up of getting a beer. More drunk people noticed in public, more auto accidents noted, as easily seen as you drive in and out of town. Kuujjuaq, no doubt has beer and wine sales, but Kuujjuaq no doubt has an overwhelming problem with the drunkeness. No question here about the fact of it all. The question is : how are we to continue our sacrifice of all the negatives, often time lost of life, in order to become a sensible drinking society?

#16. Posted by Cold One on September 07, 2017

Continued…-As with our food purchases, we have always had to spend our money wisely. Hard liquor has always been cheaper on shipping and was able to stretch it out to last so was a smarter choice. But with a liquor outlet in every community, this will cut down most of binge drinking and a cold one or glass of wine just down the street whenever we want will cut down the binge mentality.

#17. Posted by Skewed priorities of the privileged few on September 07, 2017

#12 I can’t wait for the next plebiscite to ask the question if people in Iqaluit want an addictions treatment center, a rehab center, a wellness center, a detox center, more mental health services, trauma therapy services, you name it. I’m quite confident there would be an overwhelmingly positive outcome for that, but are we asked by the GN? NO!

#14 You want to talk about equal rights (to have easily accessible alcohol)?? Let’s talk about equal rights to HEALTH, WELLNESS, SAFETY in Nunavut. Those are human rights! You want to be able to “drink a cold one when the mood strikes”. How about wanting to be able to access an actual counselor when a teenager is contemplating suicide? How about being able to go to rehab when you finally make that very tough decision instead of having to be put on a wait list or having to go through all kinds of loopholes? Do we have the benefit of those equal rights here in Nunavut compared to most places in Canada?

#18. Posted by InukPagan on September 07, 2017

Only in Nunavut are we allowed to get a beer/wine store but only if we register, nowhere else in Canada do beer or liquor stores ask you to register to be able to drink in the privacy of your own home. Big Brother watching over everyone. Why must we allow this to happen even this day and age?

#19. Posted by Inuit friend on September 07, 2017

How many awols this week since the beer store opened. I’ve seen a number of drunk posts on Facebook already..gongshow

#20. Posted by Waiting in line on September 07, 2017

For all you nay sayers for the store, I’ll be seeing you in line after work.

#21. Posted by wHATevEr on September 07, 2017

Skewed priorities - maybe if rehab actually worked there wouldnt be a waiting list. i know a girl that has been 5 times. 4 other people could have gone in her place. and she was drunk last week. guess 5th time didnt work.
the beer and wine store is helping Iqaluit to grow up. I wonder if that means the stores will now put scope and vanilla back on the shelves where we dont need permission to buy it.

#22. Posted by TGC on September 07, 2017

Now if that local brewery could begin operating, beer is 98 percent water by content.

#23. Posted by Quviappunga on September 07, 2017

Quviatuinnaramalli bia-taarunnalirama akikittukulummi.
I am just happy we have beer and wine store.
imiriaqtuvvimmu imirialluni 12-nik $81.00-raaqtu. maanali $31.00-riatuinnaliqtu.
If you go to the Bar 12 beers cost $81.00 without tips. Now it is only $31.00.
$50.00-mi kiinauja niuviutissakannit niqinut.
You save $50.00 for more food to buy.
Quyannamiik, Mike Peterson.
Thanks, Mike Peterson

#24. Posted by Iqaluit beer and wine store marks new LOW for Nuna on September 07, 2017

#21 Do you even know what that girl has gone through in her life that causes her to drink? Do you even care? I guess we should all just tell people who have been raped and abused in every possible way to just snap their fingers and “grow up”. You must have gotten that attitude from those who say that residential school Survivors should just “get over it” or that holocaust Survivors should just “let go of the past”. I also like #16 use of “binge drinking mentality”. What if we saw it as a symptom? What if instead we asked ourselves: What causes a person to binge drink? What if the GN put as much effort into trying to find ways to address people’s trauma instead of/before making alcohol more readily available? Ain’t that an idea.

#25. Posted by Gonzo Papers on September 07, 2017

Nunavut, a land full of fear and ignorance.

Welcome to the 20th century everyone. You’re only a few decades behind the rest of the world now.

#26. Posted by Facts of life on September 07, 2017

Let’s look at the facts of life. Let’s ask why it took so long to get a beer and wine store here? Was there a problem to keep us from that previdge? Without resorting to denial, shame or any other out negativity, can anyone take a good shot at providing the answer. The correct answer, if there’s such, could tell us not only the past , and prsent, but could reasonably give us the predictions, of what’s in store.

#27. Posted by Cold One on September 07, 2017

@#17-That is what I would like to see too. But 1st I would like them to actually get full time staff of nurses. They are wasting way too much money paying for rover nurses who stay rovers and not taking the full time position so they can stuff there accounts thicker and faster.

@#24-did you read my post? Have you actually been living in an igloo or are from down south? Anyone who has been to Nunavut for a little time can see the reason. The reason for people to binge drinking is because we are way too controlled and pay an arm and a leg. Must make the most out of what we pay for. The beer and wine store is actually to tackle that problem.

#28. Posted by 21st century on September 07, 2017

In fact, welcome to the 21st century folks! The 20th century ended at the end of Dec 2000…...just saying

#29. Posted by Gonzo Papers on September 07, 2017

#28 Beer and wine stores appeared in the 20th century, ergo; ‘welcome to the 20th century’ is phrase meant to imply that you have finally caught up with some part of the past.

That’s all.

#30. Posted by My opinion on September 08, 2017

@17 it will be great to have wellness centres but even in the south there are ridiculous waiting periods to get into these places and counsellors are so bogged down with patients they’re impossible to see. It’s hard for everyone everywhere dealing with addictions and mental health issues. Will be in Iqaluit be comfortable getting the help from people they see everyday on the street? Will the people offering help be comfortable bumping into their patients who have relapsed and are perhaps having a violent episode. It’s a small town so that in itself makes things hard when it comes to treatment. Just my opinion.

#31. Posted by Hockey on September 08, 2017

All I’m waiting on now is my NHL on t.v.  Got me some nice cold beers and now the games.

#32. Posted by Really! on September 08, 2017

#7 - really? Keith represents Cambridge Bay? He might be the MLA for Cambridge but he has not truly represent Cambay for quite sometime. Maybe his family and friends but NOT the general population of Cambay. We and others who are not his friend or family members when to him seeking help ONLY to be pushed off to someone else or no help whatsoever.
And YES there are several more capable INUIT who will be better representing Cambay.

#33. Posted by Helga on September 10, 2017

#32 - why do you feel compelled to talk negative about a good MLA who championed an initiative that few if any other MLAS in Nunavut could or would have done.

#34. Posted by My oh my on September 10, 2017

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the biggest percentage of people on here that approve of this “necessity” are Non Inuit that have moved to work?
It just throws me how insensitive some people can be.  The girl that went to rehab 5 times…do you even know why she needed to go?  What could have happened in her past to lead to such a way of life now?  Of course most are going to relapse…they are coming right back to the community that they left.  The bootleggers are still there…the pot heads are still there…the lack of mental health support is STILL THERE.  Most of them don’t have a chance in hell.

#27…I was a “Rover Nurse” until I fell in love with the community I ended up moving to…only to be treated like a piece of shit by the big wigs in the GN.  Before making comments about them thickening their accounts…why not ask them WHY they choose to work for an agency instead of an indeterminate employee.  The response may surprise you.

#35. Posted by Revenue on September 10, 2017

As sad as it is,  Peterson and his minions are salivating over the money that will come in to the GN from this store.

Do you think they will find it in their hearts to get a Treatment Centre?  Are you kidding???

Money screws people up and they lose their principles mighty fast.

People want a Treatment Centre.  HHHEEELLLOOOOOO

#36. Posted by Greta on September 11, 2017

#35 - this story is about a beer & wine store opening. Quite possibly the most significant day in Nunavut’s history. A coming of age occasion for the territory. Try and see the BIG picture of what is trying to be accomplished with the opening of this outlet. In 5 years you will likely realize the magnitude of this occasion.

#37. Posted by Cold One on September 11, 2017

#34-Nasty language. Do you even know the reason there is so much bootleggers? Because prohibition doesn’t not, and has never worked. Sorry to hear that this women had to go 5 times. There are some in the north with those problems. But maybe if there was a beer and wine store where she lived. Then she would be able to drink responsibly instead of binge drinking and having no control? Why should rest of the north have to be treated like little kids on the subject of alcohol just for a select few that have problems? There are way many more that are responsible drinkers paying the price for a couple people.  And yeas, is have became good friends with some rovers. And there responses were they stack there bank account faster, get to spend time at home every month or other month. No rent to pay, etc.

#38. Posted by Beer Drinker on September 11, 2017

Buncha Bible Thumpers !!

#39. Posted by Please on September 11, 2017

Guys/Girls, when you get beer and wine from the store please don’t litter.  I’ve already seen so many beers on the ground, maybe not necessarily all from the store but still.  Put your crap in the trash so you don’t screw up other responsible adults beer and wine time.  Smarten up Iqaluit or will end up losing this privilege.

#40. Posted by Citizen on September 11, 2017

I’ve seen people walk out of the beer store, sit down across the street and lean up against the Discovery Hotel Wall facing the beer store and start drinking…...Sad.

#41. Posted by My oh my on September 11, 2017

#37.  I don’t quite see where my language is nasty, but o.k. 
Most of the communities are not dry, they are controlled.  They have every right to order, as long as they have not had problems.  Do you honestly think that store is going to shelf the bootlegging?  It is not always binge drinking that causes such drunkenness and the problems that come with it.  Genetics plays a HUGE role.  If the parent is an alcoholic…there is a big chance the child will be too.  And for others they just can’t handle their booze.  And this goes for every race…NOT just Inuit.  There is a lack of Mental health care Canada wide.  It’s painful to watch that person you helped get into a program and see them a couple days later laying on the stretcher in emerg.  I think that the Inuit suffer enough, without us giving the fuel to the fire.  As for your Rover Nurse friends,if the only reason they were in Nunavut is to fatten their accounts…they were there for the wrong reason…and are part of the problem.

#42. Posted by Inukshuk on September 11, 2017

#6,Steve L,
I also knew Abe Okpik and he enjoyed his lifestyle as much as any
If he really wanted a pre colonial, traditional lifestyle, nobody was
stopping him!

#43. Posted by monty sling on September 12, 2017

i saw the pic of line-up, I though it was a ticket sells for madonna or kris kristopherson performance, beer? wow.

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