Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik August 18, 2016 - 8:30 am

Nunavik community votes in favour of increased booze orders

But Kangiqsujuaq's municipal council still to approve, implement increase

SARAH ROGERS
Residents of the Nunavik community of Kangiqsujuaq have voted to increase the amount of alcohol they can order for personal consumption, although the northern village council must first approve and implement the move. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Residents of the Nunavik community of Kangiqsujuaq have voted to increase the amount of alcohol they can order for personal consumption, although the northern village council must first approve and implement the move. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

Residents of the Nunavik community of Kangiqsujuaq have voted to increase the amount of alcohol residents may order for personal consumption.

The northern village held a referendum Aug. 3, asking residents if they want to be able to order more beer, wine and alcohol over a two-week period.

As it stands, adult residents of the Hudson Strait community of 700 who do not face court restrictions have three order options per person, per two-week period, as approved through the Northern Village:

• one case of beer;

• one case of beer plus a 26-ounce bottle of alcohol; and,

• a four-litre box of wine.

Now, the community has voted in favour of raising that order limit to:

• two cases of beer;

• one and half cases of beer plus a 10-ounce bottle of alcohol; and,

• one case of beer and a four-litre box of wine.

Sixty-five per cent of eligible voters, or 147 who cast ballots, said Aug. 3 that they were in favour of the increase, while 34 per cent voted against.

The vote is non-binding, and now the Northern Village council must vote to implement the new restrictions as a bylaw, which it’s expected to do in the coming months.

Stevie Qumaaluk, a local by-law officer, said the increase in alcohol limits came after community consultation around alcohol consumption in the community and with first responders, police and health care workers.

Many community members have been asking to see the local co-op store sell beer and wine, as co-ops in Kuujjuaq and Puvirnituq now do.

Qumaaluk said many others fear a sudden influx in alcohol into the community through sales, but also want to cut down on the amount of bootlegged alcohol that is sold locally.

Increasing the amounts of alcohol residents can legally order is an effort to allow people more controlled access to alcohol, he said.

The 2004 Inuit Health Survey, Qanuippitaa, found that just over 50 per cent of Nunavimmiut aged 15 years and up consider themselves regular drinkers. Of that group, nine out of 10 said they drank heavily at least once in previous year. (A new Qanuippita survey is currently underway to update that data.)

The same survey found that the proportion of drinkers is 10 per cent higher in communities where alcohol sales are permitted.

Access to alcohol varies throughout Nunavik’s 14 communities, with restrictions upheld by the Northern Villages. Currently, there are three communities where residents can purchase alcohol in a bar or restaurant or through a retail establishment: Kuujjuaq, Kuujjuaraapik or Puvirnituq.

 

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