Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 13, 2014 - 10:46 am

Nunavut MLA complains about GN’s fur-buying practices

Use of North Bay auction house is "sole sourcing," Joe Savikataaq says

DAVID MURPHY
A pair of Arctic foxes in the winter. Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq complained March 12 about the methods the Government of Nunavut uses to help hunters sell pelts from foxes and other fur-bearing animals. (FILE PHOTO)
A pair of Arctic foxes in the winter. Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq complained March 12 about the methods the Government of Nunavut uses to help hunters sell pelts from foxes and other fur-bearing animals. (FILE PHOTO)

A Nunavut MLA alleges the Government of Nunavut is playing favourites with only one fur-buying auction house when Nunavut hunters and trappers want to sell their fur pelts.

Right now, the Government of Nunavut provides free shipping when hunters and trappers send their fur to Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. in North Bay — but to no other company.

“I believe that is sole sourcing,” Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq said in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly March 12.

The GN’s Fur Pricing Program is designed to help harvesters sell their furs.

The program was “established to help revitalize Nunavut’s sealing industry and put cash in the hands of harvesters after market collapses in the early 1980s,” a program description on the GN’s Department of Environment website says.

But Savikataaq estimates that about 90 per cent of the fur value from the Kivalliq and Arviat is shipped to fur buyers that the GN doesn’t support through their program.

The GN advertises on their website, sealingnunavut.ca, that seal skins and furs “are marketed on behalf of Nunavut’s hunters and trappers by Fur Harvesters Auction Inc.”

“In my mind the government is supporting only one fur buyer. And I believe everyone should be treated equally and fairly,” Savikataaq said. 

“And other trappers and hunters would like to ship their fur to different fur buyers, but the Department of Environment will not pay the shipping,” Savikataaq said.

Savikataaq asked Environment Minister Johnny Mike if the department would pay the cost of shipping to other fur-buyers.

Mike responded that the government “can not do that right now.”

Savikataaq asked why not.

Mike explained that the government has used the buyer for a long time and that their prices are good.

“However, hunters have the wish to sell to whoever they wish to. And that’s the position we have now,” Mike said.

Savikataaq pressed the minister later during question period on the compensation that trappers get for fox pelts.

He said at auction, whenever a fox pelt is sold, the trapper receives $13 on top of what he originally sold the pelt for.

“This amount has not changed since the [Northwest Territory] days,” Savikataaq said.

“And the price of gas, the price of snowmobiles, the price of traps, the price of everything has gone up,” he said.

Mike agreed with Savikataaq on this, and said his department can review the subsidy.

“I can tell you that we can review that. And with that, I will provide information later on,” Mike said.

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