Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic January 09, 2017 - 1:10 pm

Makivik fights Nunavut government polar bear quota in court

Complex Southern Hudson Bay management area straddles one territory, two provinces, three Indigenous groups

The Makivik Corp. has gone to court to oppose a polar bear quota for Southern Hudson Bay, a complex management region shared by hunters from Nunavut, Nunavik and Cree living on the coast of James Bay in northern Ontario. (FILE PHOTO)
The Makivik Corp. has gone to court to oppose a polar bear quota for Southern Hudson Bay, a complex management region shared by hunters from Nunavut, Nunavik and Cree living on the coast of James Bay in northern Ontario. (FILE PHOTO)

Makivik Corp., the organization that represents Nunavik Inuit, has taken a spat over polar bear hunting quotas in the southern Hudson Bay management area to the Nunavut court, documents filed at the Nunavut Court of Justice reveal.

In a notice filed Nov. 4, 2016, Makivik said a Government of Nunavut decision to set the total allowable harvest in the region at 25 was “discriminatory,” “unfounded,” and was issued “without reasons or with reasons that are manifestly inadequate.”

“Most importantly, the fewer polar bear that are harvested, the less chance Nunavik Inuit have to experience and pass on to the next generation key aspects of their culture, such as survival skills and life skills, feelings of fulfillment gained from sharing the meat, and the pride of completing an important coming-of-age experience associated with being a good hunter,” said the notice, recently obtained by Nunatsiaq News at the Iqaluit courthouse.

The notice requests a judicial review of the GN’s decision.

None of the allegations in the notice have been proven in court and none of the respondents named in the notice—the GN, the Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board, the Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board and the Attorney General of Nunavut—have submitted written responses to the allegations.

Setting the quota for hunting polar bear in the southern Hudson Bay management unit has been controversial and complex.

In part, that’s because the area includes land in one territory, Nunavut, and two provinces, Quebec and Ontario, and includes land covered under two Inuit land claim agreements and protected Cree hunting grounds.

Stakeholders agreed to a temporary quota of 60 polar bears in 2011 to be shared by Sanikiluaq, the only Nunavut community in the region, all Nunavik communities, and Cree hunters in the James Bay area.

At the time only Nunavut had set a quota of 25 for Sanikiluaq, leaving 35 polar bears for Nunavik and James Bay.

In January 2012, the federal government asked the Nunavik wildlife board to establish a quota, the court document said.

The board consulted with communities and accepted “extensive submissions,” from stakeholders, including Makivik.

In October 2014 all parties agreed on a new quota of 45 polar bears to be shared in the management unit, including 25 to be shared by Nunavik and by Inuit and Cree hunters in the James Bay area.

That quota expired in November 2016.

In July 2015, the wildlife management boards in Nunavik and James Bay submitted a new quota, but that quota—which was not specified in court documents—was rejected by both Ottawa and Nunavut.

Ottawa asked for a revised quota, the court document said.

In January 2016, the two wildlife boards submitted a final quota of 28 to be shared by Inuit and Cree in Nunavik and around James Bay, said the court notice.

But on Nov. 1, 2016, the wildlife boards received letters from both Nunavut and Ottawa—dated Oct. 6, 2016 and Oct. 19, 2016, respectively—rejecting the quota and lowering it to 25.

That decision reduces the number of Nunavik Inuit who “will be able to exercise their treaty right to harvest,” Makivik argued.

“Limiting the polar bear harvest also reduces the extensive social and economic benefits that the polar bear harvest provides the Inuit,” and reduces access to “inexpensive and healthy country food in an area where food costs are extremely high,” Makivik said.

The notice will be put before a judge in Iqaluit on Jan. 16 at 1:30 p.m., the document said.

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(13) Comments:

#1. Posted by Boom on January 09, 2017

First the baluga whales, now the polar bears? What’s wrong with grizzlies and black bears?

#2. Posted by Meat Eater on January 09, 2017

First, Nunavik is allowed to have a quota about the beluga whales NOT Sanikiluaq people. And now for the polar bears Nunavik people are allowed to have quota because of Sanikiluaq people.  Just because Inukjuak people caught over 60 polar bears about 2 years ago.

So now Sanikiliuaq must now have a quota for beluga whales, that way we’ll be even.  Simple as that.

#3. Posted by Hunter on January 09, 2017

Hey Boom , if the wildlife is not managed, our fellow inuk will shoot everything in sight and, who are we going to blame , you got it , the white man

#4. Posted by Amaruq on January 09, 2017

Ducks, beluga whales, polar bears, caribou, musk-oxen, seals…what’s next? maybe its time we learn to eat like vegetarians?...yet meat/fish has always been in our jeans…

#5. Posted by father time on January 09, 2017

unfortunately our ability to hunt sometimes exceeds the animals ability to keep up with the hunting pressures.
But this is the politics of wildlife management and cause Inuit to face other Inuit in a hatred style and in seek of vengeance and to make other Inuit suffer unnecessary.
Inuit style cooperation should be sought for the betterment of everyone and the animals we eat.

#6. Posted by TGC on January 10, 2017

Genes not jeans, the molecular unit of heredity.

#7. Posted by Nunavimmiuq on January 10, 2017

Let those who have most abundant polar bears in their region get lion’s share of quotas for safety’s sake. Mostly for population control.  Let common sense prevail this time. We all know what happened to beluga quota mismanagement. Those who never get beluga in their premises, get lion’s share of the beluga quotas. Their clumsy harvesting methods are literally changing the migratory patterns of the whales. They are giving bad name to those who’ve learned time-tested methods of harvesting whales. It’s not like they haven’t been given advise on best methods of hunting and harvesting the whales. They just choose to ignore it.

#8. Posted by Really? on January 10, 2017

The last time I was in Kuujjuaq, I really felt a tension brewing between Nunavik and Nunavut on the issue of harvesting rights and jurisdiction. It was rather uncomfortable.

I am not surprised that Makivik Corp has done this. I would also not be surprised if the GN set the total allowable harvest as “discriminatory” or “unfounded”. The GN doesn’t have a good reputation or practice of explaining their rationale.

The issue for me, that I am struggling with, is that Inuit are spending time and energy on an issue such as harvesting. Shouldn’t we be working together?

It seems that politics has gotten in the way and I agree with post #5.We as Inuit are potentially creating hatred to our fellow Inuit. This is not right.

#9. Posted by Hunter on January 10, 2017

Just make sure you are not catching too much and there will be enough for everybody for the future.

#10. Posted by Maybe? on January 10, 2017

Maybe Really? (#8), it’s not really “that Inuit are spending time and energy on an issue such as harvesting.” the GN is not Inuit after all… they’re a Public Government that only serves the 15%

#11. Posted by Inuk on January 11, 2017

I think it’s time we Inuit take what’s rightfully ours,quotas like this makes our methods of harvesting goes up in the air not to the future generations.

#12. Posted by "has been hunter" on January 11, 2017

The quota system has done wonders for Nunavut, we have too many bears that they become nuisance bears, coming into communities, raiding our meat caches, etc. Would push Nunavimmiut not to adopt a quota system and hunt as they please, so as to keep numbers down.

#13. Posted by in Our Jeans on January 11, 2017

in our jeans is such a lol thing to say.  It would be very helpful if we had harvest data going back decades including from commercial whalers.

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