Share Nunavut’s wildlife, don’t sell it, KIA delegates say

"Never use wildlife for cash — there are always people in need of food"

By JANE GEORGE


“16inch in length 6inches wide caribou imujaq with tunnuq and qisaruaq up for auction bidding starts at $50.00 increments of $5.00 ending tonight @ 8:00pm Iqaluit time if won outside of Iqaluit winner pays for shipping,” reads an Oct. 16 post on Nunavut “swap and sell” Facebook page.


This narwhal maktaaq is for sale online on a Nunavut “swap and sell” Facebook page.


Here’s a photo of caribou ribs up for sale on a Nunavut “swap and sell” Facebook page.

CAMBRIDGE BAY — You don’t have to wait long if you’re a member of a popular “swap and sell” Facebook page in Nunavut to see caribou, Arctic char or maktaaq whale blubber come up for sale or even for auction to the highest bidder.

But that’s a dangerous practice, said Charlie Lyall of Taloyoak, a delegate to the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay.

“If we are going to continue selling [willdlife], the population numbers are going to decline,” Lyall said Oct. 15 after listening to a presentation by Ben Kovic, who chairs the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board

Lyall described how the meat, char and maktaaq are sold online — and that goes against Inuit ways, which encourage sharing instead of selling extra meat or fish, he said.

Many types of country food also go to the patient boarding home in Iqaluit, where they bring meat or maktaaq to sell.

Other delegates told about non-Inuit buying up to $900 worth of caribou or sending out many boxes of country foods to Iqaluit or buyers in other communities.

A woman quoted her father who always told her to give away extra meat: “never use wildlife for cash — there are always people in need of food.”

Kovic, who likened those who sell wildlife to “bootleggers” of drugs or alcohol, advised those at the meeting to consult with their local hunting and trapping associations and Inuit associations so they can step up their surveillance — he also said he would bring their concerns back to the management board.

Under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, any Inuk in Nunavut is allowed to sell any country food that is legally harvested.

A provision in Article 5 of the NLCA says, “an Inuk shall have the right to dispose freely to any person any wildlife lawfully harvested. The right to dispose shall include the right to sell, barter, exchange and give, either inside or outside the Nunavut Settlement Area.”

The discussion about the online selling of wildlife continued into the annual general meeting of the Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board Oct. 18, when James Panioyak, who chairs the Ekalututiak HTO, said he understood the practice appears to be permitted by the NLCA, but goes against “Inuit values” of sharing.

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