Seven Nunavut communities impose holiday booze bans
"There was a lot of drinking going on during holiday celebrations, so we just kept it going,”
Seven Nunavut communities are hoping for a quiet and peaceful holiday season, after their hamlet councils passed resolutions to ban alcohol for the remainder of the year.
Hamlet councils in Taloyoak, Kimmirut, Cape Dorset, Baker Lake, Repulse Bay, Clyde River and Arctic Bay have all decided to have a dry Christmas this year, meaning residents are not permitted to have alcohol shipped to them.
Most of those community bans start this week and end anywhere between Jan. 1 and Jan. 4.
In Baker Lake, mayor Joe Aupaluktuq said the holiday ban has been in place each year for longer than he can remember.
“Apparently during Christmas, there was a lot of drinking going on during holiday celebrations, so we just kept it going,” Aupaluktuq said.
Aupaluktuq said he’s not aware of any increase in bootlegged alcohol in his community during the Christmas season.
Normally, Baker Lake is a restricted community, meaning that when there is no ban in place, residents must obtain a permit from the local alcohol committee to order personal shipments of beer, wine or spirits.
Still, many other Nunavut communities will allow alcohol to flow this Christmas — some of them finding the ban is not an effective tool against heavy drinking, ruckus or violence.
Rankin Inlet decided against a ban this year, arguing that bootleggers take advantage of dry periods to sell more booze at higher prices.
Nunavut RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Yvonne Niego said that seven communities is “normal to low” number for Nunavut — there are years where many more communities decide to impose a ban.
The RCMP does not weigh in on those decisions, Niego said, although police usually participate on the local liquor committees and advise them on issues in the community.
Police do not plan to step of their presence over the holidays.
“The communities are usually celebrating — a lot of people are involved with community functions, like dances and games,” Niego said. “So it’s mostly a good time.”