Posts Tagged ‘inuit’

Beaufort Sea commercial fishing banned

April 21, 2011

CBC News Posted: Apr 15, 2011 5:32 PM CT – Original article here

Commercial fishing is off-limits in the Beaufort Sea, according to a new agreement between the federal government and the Inuvialuit people of the western Arctic.

An ulu, a traditional Inuit cutting tool, is seen on a table with Arctic char in Iqaluit in this 2009 photo. Like in the eastern Arctic, char is fished by the Inuvialuit people in the Beaufort Sea.

An ulu, a traditional Inuit cutting tool, is seen on a table with Arctic char in Iqaluit in this 2009 photo. Like in the eastern Arctic, char is fished by the Inuvialuit people in the Beaufort Sea. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The memorandum of understanding, which both parties signed Friday in Inuvik, N.W.T., is the first step towards a comprehensive ocean management plan in the Beaufort Sea.

The agreement prohibits any new licences from being issued for commercial fishing in the Beaufort Sea at least until the management plan is developed and implemented — a process that could take years.

Commercial fishing does not usually happen in the Beaufort Sea, but melting sea ice have opened up Arctic waterways to more fishing and commercial traffic.

Preventing a fishing rush

For many years, Arctic char and other fish species in the Beaufort Sea and other northern waterways had been protected by thick layers of sea ice that were dangerous for fishing and other marine vessels.

‘We don’t want to wake up some morning … and find a big, rusty Korean fishing boat offshore.’—Burton Ayles

But the Northwest Passage has become more ice-free recently, which has led to more cruise ships, sailboats and commercial shipping and fishing vessels coming north.

The Beaufort Sea fishing ban is being put in place before there is a rush to create a new commercial fishery, according to federal and Inuvialuit officials.

“We don’t want to wake up some morning in [Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.] and find a big, rusty Korean fishing boat offshore,” said fisheries scientist Burton Ayles, a member of the Fisheries Joint Management Committee, which consists of federal and Inuvialuit representatives.

With fish stocks in steep decline around the world, Ayles said Inuvialuit and others living near the Beaufort Sea do not want the region to be overfished.

Temporary commercial fishing permits that were issued in the Beaufort Sea over the past 10 years have not worked out well, Ayles said.

“They didn’t always report back properly on what they were harvesting,” he said.

Fragile ecosystem

Nellie Cournoyea, chair of the Inuvialuit Regional Corp., said the Beaufort Sea ecosystem is too fragile to accommodate large boats with fishing nets.

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent makes its way through the ice in Baffin Bay in 2008. Arctic waterways have increasingly become ice-free in recent years, opening them up to more marine traffic.

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent makes its way through the ice in Baffin Bay in 2008. Arctic waterways have increasingly become ice-free in recent years, opening them up to more marine traffic. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Cournoyea said not much is known about fish populations in the area, but people in the area do know that fish is a vital food source for other marine species.

“There’s a cautionary approach to this because it all has to come into balance,” she said.

“You wouldn’t want to create a fishery that would take away from that food stock of the whales or the seals or the other species that live offshore.”

Frank Pokiak of the Inuvialuit Game Council said people in the region would rather see Inuvialuit people participating in small-scale traditional fisheries than large-scale commercial fisheries.

“They’re willing to keep the doors open for Inuvialuit beneficiaries to do small-scale fisheries,” he said. “I know some people, at this time right now, they do harvest some of the fish species for selling … dry fish and things like that.”

Demand for polar bear hides soars: auction house

April 21, 2011

CBC News Posted: Apr 11, 2011 10:58 AM CT – Original article here

One of Canada’s largest fur auction houses says it cannot meet the soaring demand for polar bear hides, provoking concerns about overhunting in southern Hudson Bay and other areas..

Demand and prices for polar bear hides have been escalating over the past five seasons, says an official with Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. in North Bay, Ont. Russians are particularly interested in the hides, he said.

A polar bear and her cubs walk along the shore of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Man., in 2007. An estimated 900 to 1,000 polar bears live in the southern Hudson Bay region.

A polar bear and her cubs walk along the shore of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Man., in 2007. An estimated 900 to 1,000 polar bears live in the southern Hudson Bay region. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

“The supply does not even come close to meeting the demand,” Mark Downey, the auction house’s chief executive officer, told CBC News.

At the company’s most recent sale in January, polar bear hides sold for an average of $5,000, Downey said. One sold for a record high of $11,000.

Each buyer at the sale wanted all 80 of the polar bear hides on offer but had to settle for two or three hides each, he said.

“There’s a lot of interest for really top-quality specimens, 10-footers-plus, well-handled bears for the Russian market,” he said. “There’s a lot of Russian businessmen or what have you that would like to have a polar bear rug.”

Demand in Russia, Asia, Canada

Downey added that polar bear hides are also wanted for life-size mounts or displays for museums and airports.

“The top goods are ending up going to Russia, whereas the other ones are going basically all over,” he said. “They’re going to China, they’re going into Canada … could be into Japan.”

Hunters in Nunavik, a predominantly Inuit region in northern Quebec, have killed an unusually high number of polar bears this year, and demand has been cited as a reason.

Hunters in Inukjuak, Que., have told CBC News they have killed at least 60 polar bears since January in southern Hudson Bay. On average over the last five years, fewer than four polar bears a year were killed.

Quebec government officials have said the demand for polar bear hides is so high that buyers are purchasing hides with the fat still on them.

Wildlife group calls for management system

The demand for polar bear hides can result in overhunting, said Pete Ewins, a senior officer in charge of species for World Wildlife Fund Canada.

Ewins said Quebec needs a good polar bear management system, similar to one in Nunavut.

Unlike Nunavut, where each community is allowed an annual hunting quota for polar bears, Quebec does not have a fixed quota system.

Inuit hunters in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, who also hunt from the southern Hudson Bay polar bear population, have said they are concerned the large hunt in Nunavik could result in fewer bears for them to harvest.

Ontario also has no fixed quota system for polar bears, but that province’s government has a management agreement with Cree people there.

Ewins applauded the Quebec government’s move to call a meeting of polar bear hunters and government officials from that province, Nunavut and Ontario in June.

“Although it’s driven, I think, by damage-control reasons, it probably will result in a shift in priorities and I think Quebec will catch up,” he said. “I’m an optimist.”

Polar bear experts have been calling for polar bear management agreements that are shared between jurisdictions.

Figures obtained from Environment Canada show the number of international export permits issued for polar bear hides has risen from 219 in 2005 to 320 in 2010.

Uranium mining rejected at Iqaluit public forum

March 22, 2011

Concerned Inuit cite nuclear threat in Japan, environmental risks
CBC News
Posted: Mar 18, 2011 Original article here

Many Nunavummiut who attended a uranium forum Thursday night said they do not want uranium mining in Nunavut, while some even attacked the territory’s Inuit group for supporting uranium development.

More than 120 people in Iqaluit came out to the public forum, which was organized by the Nunavut government as it works on developing its own policy on uranium mining in the territory.

After hearing from officials representing government, the mining industry and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, most of those who spoke made it clear that they want nothing to do with uranium mining.

Panel members at the Nunavut government's uranium forum Thursday night in Iqaluit.

Panel members at the Nunavut government's uranium forum Thursday night in Iqaluit. (Patricia Bell/CBC)

“For me, there’s about four industries that we should never go into, and they’re asbestos, uranium, the tobacco industry and building of weapons,” said Madeleine Cole, a family doctor in the city.

“We cannot agree to something for the next 1,000 years that our descendants have not agreed to. I think it is irresponsible,” resident Aaju Peter said at the forum.

The threat of a nuclear disaster in Japan, which was rocked by a devastating earthquake and tsunami last week, weighed heavily on the minds of many audience members.

“Somebody who’s watching the news over the past few days has to be thinking about the implications of uranium and radioactivity in general on the environment [and] on people,” said Robert Anawak.

Growing mining interest

The territorial government wants to establish its own position on uranium amid growing interest in Nunavut from mining and exploration companies.

Areva Resources Canada wants to build a uranium mine at its Kiggavik site, 85 kilometres west of Baker Lake in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region. The company’s proposal is currently in the regulatory process.

Baker Lake resident Joan Scottie raised environmental and wildlife-related concerns about uranium mining at Thursday's forum.

Baker Lake resident Joan Scottie raised environmental and wildlife-related concerns about uranium mining at Thursday's forum. (Patricia Bell/CBC)

Most of the eight panel members at Thursday’s forum assured the audience that uranium mining in Canada is not a dangerous industry and not much different from other types of mining.

“Uranium mining is a very strictly regulated industry, which has very high standards for safety and environmental protection,” said George Schneider of Golder Associates, which prepared a report for the Nunavut government.

But Baker Lake resident Joan Scottie, who has been fighting proposed uranium projects near her community for more than 20 years, said Inuit elders like herself believe caribou have already been scared away by a gold mine that recently opened in the area.

Having the Kiggavik uranium mine near Baker Lake could take an even bigger toll on caribou and other wildlife, Scottie said.

“It’s going to be worse on the south side of Baker Lake, because that’s a major migration route,” she said.

NTI blasted for owning shares

Some at Thursday’s forum berated Nunavut Tunngavik (NTI), the territory’s Inuit land-claim organization, for supporting uranium mining and having shares in two companies that are exploring for the heavy metal.

“I did not agree as a beneficiary, as a trust member, to own shares in a uranium company,” Iqaluit resident Susan Enuaraq, an Inuit land-claim beneficiary, said during the forum.

Keith Morrison, a senior adviser with Nunavut Tunngavik, told the audience that the organization received shares in exchange for issuing exploration agreements to those companies. No money was paid for those shares, he added.

Sandra Inutiq, a spokesperson for the advocacy group Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit, accused Nunavut Tunngavik of denying its pro-uranium stance and pretending to give out balanced information on the topic.

“The spirit and intent of the land-claim agreement is not being fulfilled,” Inutiq said. “We expected, as Inuit, that we would participate in decision-making.”

Group wants plebiscite

Nunavut Tunngavik president Cathy Towtongie recently said she wants to review her organization’s uranium mining policy, which since 2007 has supported uranium projects in Nunavut as long as they are environmentally and socially responsible.

Inutiq said her group wants a territory-wide plebiscite so Inuit land-claim beneficiaries can vote on whether Nunavut Tunngavik should support uranium mining.

“When the review process is complete and the documents resulting from the process have been prepared and released to the public, there should be a plebiscite for beneficiaries of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement on the question of whether or not to allow uranium mining in Nunavut,” Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit said in a statement Thursday.

“Beneficiaries should be given a free and democratic vote on this important question and that vote should settle the question once and for all.”

But Nunavut Conservative Senator Dennis Patterson said a plebiscite would not respect the land claim, particularly for Areva’s Kiggavik proposal.

“It would probably not be in good faith for NTI to change the rules for a project that has already begun,” Patterson said at the forum.

The Nunavut government is holding another public forum in Baker Lake on March 30 and 31. It will then go to Cambridge Bay on April 12-13.

Those who cannot attend the meetings in person can send in comments online, or by email, phone, fax or postal mail.

Greenland’s Inuit Premier defends oil and gas drilling

March 1, 2011

Gloria Galloway, Ottawa, The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011 – Original article here

The Inuit Premier of Greenland is passionate in defending the need to develop his country’s oil and gas potential – a stance that puts him at odds with Canadian Inuit groups, which have tried to block offshore drilling near their communities.

Kuupik Kleist was one of the speakers at a two-day summit of Inuit leaders who met this week to discuss resource development. Mr. Kleist said Wednesday that there will be oil and gas extraction in and around Greenland and the Inuit want to dictate its terms. Here is what he said in response to questions from reporters; the questions have been edited and the answers trimmed.

More related to this story

Many Inuit and environmentalists in Nunavut argue that any oil and gas exploration could damage a fragile ecosystem. How do you respond to those concerns?

We have a co-operation with the Canadian government on the issue of protection of the environment [as it relates to] the oil industry. And we have that co-operation because of the Canadian experience, which we don’t have … both within the mineral sector and within the oil industry for years. And what we’re looking at is to gain from the experiences, not only from Canada but also from Norway, for instance, which is regarded as an upscale developer of technology.

I have had a dialogue with the Minister for the Environment in Canada who was, in the outset, very concerned about the exploratory drillings off the Greenland west coast. What happened during our dialogue was that now Canadian employees are on the drilling sites off the west coast of Greenland to learn about security.

Do you feel that the oil and gas industry is safe?

You can never ensure 100 per cent that nothing will happen. You have to be honest facing the risks. … [But] companies from the outside have been exploiting natural resources in the Arctic area for centuries now. The Inuit didn’t. Now it’s our turn. It seems like now gradually the peoples of the Arctic are taking over powers then suddenly it becomes much more dangerous, risky and what else you might come up with. You see the environmental groups coming now to the Arctic area and trying to hinder activities conducted by indigenous governments in the Arctic. Why didn’t they do that, like, 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or even just 15 years ago? Now, with technology developed, it’s much safer today than it was before.

Do you think the unrest in Libya and other places in the Middle East will put even more focus on oil exploration in Greenland?

Of course. We are now a full part of the global economy. We cannot hide away or shy away from looking at what’s happening on the rest of the globe. We are a part of it and we need to face that and we have to take precautions according to what happens on the market.

The Greenland ice shelf is melting at an increasing rate. This presents challenges, but does it also hold some potential?

It’s not the fault of Greenland that the ice is melting. Nobody believes that by tomorrow the need for fossil fuels will disappear just because of the ice melting. If Greenland should stay away from exploiting its mineral resources, some other place on the Earth will do it, that’s for sure. But we are doing it under the strongest precautions, we are sticking to best practices, we are sticking to the best available technology and you cannot be sure that the rest of the world would do that.

Is there potential for confrontation between companies and Inuit groups for control of resources?

Of course. That’s not new. That’s always existed. The change that’s been going on is that now we have the insight, we have the powers, we negotiate ourselves. We don’t allow federal governments just to hand over Inuit lands to companies to exploit the mineral resources. It’s in our hands. We need to face all of the challenges that are connected with that kind of activity. The difference is that it’s now us sitting at the end of the table, and of course the confrontations, wherever they might be, we need to face them.

Arctic survey bid hits snag over Franklin ships

February 17, 2011

CBC News – original article here

An Alberta archeological firm’s proposal to test survey equipment in an Arctic waterway has hit a roadblock over concerns about the long-lost ships of Sir John Franklin. ProCom Marine Survey and Archeology had asked the Nunavut Impact Review Board to approve its proposal to conduct work in Larsen Sound, 195 kilometres northwest of Taloyoak in western Nunavut.

The company’s project, called Polar North, would use autonomous underwater vehicles to “develop solutions relating to offshore surveying for oil and gas in Arctic conditions,” according to proposal documents. If approved, the work would take place in April and August this year. But in a letter to territorial Environment Minister Daniel Shewchuk, the review board recommends that he modify or abandon ProCom’s proposal on the basis of the project’s location and “unacceptable potential adverse impacts to cultural resources.

” National historic sites Larsen Sound is considered to be the final resting spot for one or both of the famed British explorer’s ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, which disappeared during a doomed expedition to chart the Northwest Passage more than 160 years ago. “It was primarily the location of the project, and the fact that there are recognized national historic sites that are believed to be in Larsen Sound,” Ryan Barry, an official with the review board, told CBC News.

“The concerns, primarily from the [Nunavut] Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, were such that they saw the potential for impact to these historic sites.” ProCom’s latest proposal does not mention Franklin’s ships, but the company ran into trouble with the Nunavut government when it tried to look for the lost ships last fall without the necessary permits. Concerns raised Barry said the board reviewed ProCom’s Polar North application in consultation with community organizations in the hamlets of Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven and Kugaaruk, as well as with officials from the federal and territorial governments and Inuit organizations. Major concerns about the project were raised during those consultations, with the proposed location being most significant, Barry said.

According to the review board, the Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth recommends that ProCom relocate the project to another body of water north of Larsen Sound, excluding Lancaster Sound. In a letter to Shewchuk, ProCom president Rob Rondeau said his group is prepared to make changes to its application. “Given the size of Larsen Sound, ProCom would be prepared to relocate the project, from the survey area as proposed, providing an alternative site can be selected, so that it can continue to be based from Taloyoak,” Rondeau wrote. Rondeau told CBC News he would prefer not to comment on the matter until Shewchuk has decided whether ProCom can resubmit its application with changes.

Alaska whalers will wear white float coats for spring hunt

January 19, 2011

By RACHEL D’ORO
The Associated Press

STEPHANIE AGUVLUK / The Associated Press Eskimo whalers wear float coats on the Chukchi Sea north of Wainwright. The whale hunters have traditionally worn white as camouflage, forgoing the use of life jackets because they've been unavailable in white. When the whaling season arrives this spring hunters from 11 coastal villages will wear the white float coats.

Published: January 17th, 2011 09:46 PM
Last Modified: January 18th, 2011 02:32 PM

Gordon Brower has been hunting bowhead whales for most of his 47 years, forgoing life jackets because no one made them in white, the only color that would work as camouflage on Alaska’s icy Arctic coast.

Now the whaling captain from the nation’s northernmost town of Barrow and other Eskimo whalers have begun to wear personal flotation devices, custom-made in the white they’ve traditionally used to make them more invisible to their massive prey.

When the subsistence whaling season arrives this spring, more Alaska Native hunters from coastal villages will be outfitted with the white float coats being distributed through a safety program that’s been greatly expanded since its debut last year. A couple dozen whalers also will receive white float pants.

Brower’s crew was among whalers who tried the coats last year. On the first trek out with the new gear, the crew landed a 30-ton bowhead.

“Everything kind of lined up in a straight line and the stars were with us, and we got a whale,” he said, noting the only glitch with the coats is the noise they make in extremely cold weather. “Other than that, I think they work pretty good. We were happy to use them.”

The coats are the result of efforts by the Coast Guard, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Burnaby, British Columbia-based Mustang Survival Corp., which makes flotation and extreme climate protection products. The whalers’ coats have a nylon shell and flotation foam filling, which also offers protection against the frigid conditions faced in the Arctic.

WHALER DROWNINGS RARE

Mike Folkerts, a recreational boating safety specialist with the Coast Guard, was participating in a mission to Barrow in 2009 when he noticed the town’s main grocery and general store had no life jackets for sale. Local whalers told him life jackets were too bright and would scare away the animals. He asked if they would wear the jackets if they were available in white.

The hunters said sure.

Folkerts called a couple companies, including Mustang, that sent prototype samples, which Folkerts showed to the whalers.”They loved them,” he said.

There is no federal or state requirement to wear a life jacket in a recreational boat unless the person is under 13, although life jackets on board are required, he said.

The Coast Guard can’t purchase equipment to give to the public, so Folkerts turned to the tribal health consortium. The organization tapped $12,000 of its own funds and ordered 52 coats from Mustang, distributing them among whalers in Barrow and two other villages.

It was an apt connection.

One of the consortium’s areas of interest is reducing the disproportionate rate of drownings among Alaska Natives.

Between 2000 and 2006, Alaska Natives accounted for 179 drowning deaths in the state, or 45 percent of the 402 such deaths in that period, although they represented less than 18 percent of Alaska’s population at the time, according to Hillary Strayer, the organization’s injury prevention specialist.

 

ROLE MODELS

Drowning deaths are a rarity among whalers, who are extremely safety conscious, according to Folkerts.

But Brower has seen his share of tipped boats over the years. He points out that his boat is only 24 feet long, while whales can be more than twice as long, averaging a ton per foot.

“Once in a great while, somebody has lost their lives,” he said. “The potential is always there, especially when you are attempting to harvest a whale and the animal is a big animal.”

As far as Strayer is concerned, whalers are role models. She’s hoping they inspire others to start wearing life jackets.

“They are pillars of their community,” she said. “They’re really looked up to.”

 

OIL COMPANY DONATIONS

For the upcoming spring whaling season that begins in April when bowheads are heading north, the consortium is distributing 96 coats among crews from the remaining villages that are members of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, which represents 11 communities.

Four crews, including Brower’s, will get the float pants.

The funds for this year’s effort came from a $15,000 donation from Shell Oil and almost $11,000 from Conoco Phillips, an oil producer on the North Slope, where some of the whaling villages are located. Shell has offshore oil exploration projects in the region.

Representatives of the companies said the donations stemmed from their support of the subsistence lifestyle of Natives in the area and the companies’ devotion to safety.

“If outfitting North Slope whalers with traditional-looking, but effective, float coats saves a life, that’s a behavioral change that we’re proud to be part of,” Shell’s Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said.

Nunavut Inuit decry narwhal tusk export ban

December 17, 2010

December 15, 2010 CBC News
Original article here

Inuit leaders are accusing the federal government of banning whalers in most of Nunavut’s communities from exporting their narwhal tusks. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the territory’s Inuit land-claims organization, says the trade restrictions, which were imposed by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, violate Inuit harvesting rights.

In a release Wednesday, Nunavut Tunngavik president Cathy Towtongie called on Ottawa to reverse its decision. Her organization is considering legal options, she added. “DFO does not have the right to impose such restrictions on Inuit, particularly when the [narwhal] population is thriving and harvest numbers do not threaten the species,” Towtongie stated in the release. Nunavut Tunngavik says it was notified of the trade restrictions last week. The group said under the federal order, export permits will not be issued under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for narwhal tusks harvested from 17 of Nunavut’s 25 communities, including the territorial capital of Iqaluit.

Inuit whalers in Kugaaruk, Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven, Igloolik, and Pond Inlet are still permitted to export their harvested narwhal tusks.

“They’ve decided that there are different subpopulations, that some populations may be at risk,” Gabriel Nirlungayuk, Nunavut Tunngavik’s wildlife director, told CBC News.

“We don’t really know what that means. We would like DFO to explain themselves.”

Towtongie and Nirlungayuk said the department based its decision on “faulty scientific data” and no consultation with Inuit. Nunavut Tunngavik cited scientific surveys that peg the narwhal population at around 80,000 in Canada. Inuit harvest about 500 narwhal each year, the group adds. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has not yet commented on the trade restrictions being alleged by the Inuit group.

Iqaluit awarded bowhead whale hunt

December 11, 2010

December 8, 2010 CBC News

Inuit hunters in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, stand atop a 17-metre whale they harvested in August 2009. A similar hunt will take place next summer in Iqaluit, the territorial capital city. (Submitted by Sally and Tagak Curley)

Iqaluit will host one of Nunavut’s prized bowhead whale hunts next summer, giving Inuit hunters there a rare chance to harvest one of the giants of the sea.

Next summer will mark the first time in recent history that Iqaluit hunters will get to harvest one of the massive marine mammals, which can feed hundreds of Inuit in the area with meat and muktaaq.

“It’s very important. It’s been tradition for a long time. I always wanted to go bowhead whale hunt, if I got a chance,” said longtime Iqaluit hunter Solomon Awa, who has never hunted a mighty bowhead.

While whaling has long been a revered tradition in Inuit culture, which emphasizes the ability to live off the land, the bowhead whale was completely off-limits to hunting for decades. As a result, many modern Inuit in Nunavut have not had a chance to go after the large whales.

Licence required

But as the whale’s numbers started to rebound in the mid-1990s, hunters have been slowly getting their chance. Today, the bowhead whale remains the only animal for which Inuit communities need a licence to hunt.

Nunavut’s Inuit land-claims organization, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., has fought hard to open up the harvest.

The group convinced the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board to recommend raising the annual quota from two to three whales a year. That recommendation was approved by federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea last year.

“It’s very important for younger people to learn. I mean, they have enough distractions already in today’s modern world,” said Gabriel Nirlungayuk, Nunavut Tunngavik’s wildlife director.

“There’s nothing like it to go out on the land, and coming home with dinner.”

So every year, three Nunavut communities are awarded licences to hunt one bowhead whale each. This year, hunts took place in Kugaaruk, Pond Inlet and Repulse Bay, with whalers in the latter two communities having successful hunts.

No guarantees

While hunters like Awa say they are excited with the opportunity, they are quick to note there is no guarantee that they will actually take home a whale.

“Yes, it’s going to be really fun having a bowhead whale hunt here in Iqaluit; [it is] like we’re given a licence [for] opportunity. The question is, are we going to be successful?” Awa said.

“It’s all up to the environment. It’s not up to us. That’s how we always look at it.”

The Amarok Hunters and Trappers Organization in Iqaluit, which is organizing next summer’s hunt, has not yet set an exact date.

Vice-chairman David Alexander said he expects a lot of hunters will want to be in the whaling crew that will go out onto the water and pursue a bowhead.

“It won’t be an easy task as to who will be able to … to be out on this hunt. Hopefully we’ll be able to do the right selection process to get the right people,” Alexander said.

Hunting, butchering work

Awa said he hopes to be part of the whaling crew, but he added that he’ll be happy doing whatever he can.

“The hunting part is fun, but the butchering part is also a lot of work,” he said.

While whale hunting is tied to the Inuit people’s past, the technology hunters use today is modern — a grenade is speared into the giant animal in order to avoid a drawn-out death, Nirlungayuk said.

“You try and aim it for either the brain or the heart or the lungs or both. There’s a gap, about a five- to six-second gap, and then it explodes,” Nirlungayuk said.

Alexander said the chance to hunt a bowhead whale will make up for years in which the beluga whale harvest proved to be disappointing.

He added that the hunt will give Inuit hunters a chance to pass on traditional knowledge to young people, while hopefully feeding a lot of people.
Original article here.

 

Mystery Arctic box unearthed, may contain Franklin’s log, but more likely Amundsens magnetic observations

September 8, 2010

Wally Porter (left) shows the cairn where his grandfather buried what may be the logbooks from the ill-fated Franklin expedition to writer Ken McGoogan. Photograph by: Sheena Fraser McGoogan, Postmedia News

Vancouver Sun via Circumpolar Musings:
By Ken McGoogan, Postmedia News September 5, 2010

An old wooden box excavated from beneath an Arctic cairn is being flown unopened Monday to Ottawa from the Nunavut hamlet of Gjoa Haven.

The Nunavut-government launched the excavation after an Inuit family relayed oral history suggesting that the cairn contained records from the ill-fated 1845 expedition led by Sir John Franklin in search of the Northwest Passage.

But Canadian historian Kenn Harper, who has spent months researching the cairn, says the box will prove to contain records left in 1905 by explorer Roald Amundsen during the first-ever navigation of the Passage.

The box, which measures 14.5 x 11 x 6.5 inches, will be opened and its contents preserved at the Canadian Conservation Institute.

Harper, author of the best-selling Inuit biography Give Me My Fathers Body, and also Honorary Danish Consul in Nunavut, says the box contains papers that Amundsen buried after spending almost two years in Gjoa Haven tracking the movements of the North Magnetic Pole.

He began investigating the cairn after learning of the claim by descendants of George Washington Porter II, a Hudson’s Bay Company manager based in that hamlet on King William Island.

Harper says that Eric Mitchell of the HBC, the senior man in the territory, dug up the Amundsen records in 1958, with the help of Porter II. The two men found documents that had first been discovered in 1927 by William Paddy Gibson, an HBC inspector who reburied them.

Gibson wrote in The Beaver magazine of finding the records, which included a signed photograph of Georg V. Neumayer, a German scientist who had sparked Amundsens interest in the North Magnetic Pole.

Harper predicted that the Saturday excavation would turn up an old HBC ammunition box. Andrew Porter, who runs a tourism business in Gjoa Haven, says that just such a box was found three feet beneath the cairn.

Harper says the unopened box contains a metal canister in a bed of tallow. Inside the canister, conservators will find the Amundsen documents in an envelope sewn into an oilskin packet and wrapped in pages from a 1950s Nautical Almanac and an Edmonton newspaper.

Harper, who has lived in the Arctic for over 30 years, doubts that any Franklin documents will be found. He believes that oral history has confused Franklin and Amundsen.

Original article here

Arctic exploitation stopped in Nunavut!

August 11, 2010

Arctic exploration stopped

By BRIAN LILLEY, Parliamentary Bureau

OTTAWA – Attempts to explore the contents of the earth below Canada’s Arctic waters near Lancaster Sound have been put on hold by a Nunavut judge.

The joint project of the federal government’s natural resources department and the German Alfred Wegner Institute for Polar and Marine Research was supposed to begin as early as this week.

The plan was to use seismic testing, which involves blasting sound waves off of the earth below the sea to map out what lies below the waters.

Two agencies of the Nunavut government had signed off on the testing but not everyone was happy. Some Inuit groups and environmentalists opposed the testing, claiming it could damage wildlife in the area.

In a ruling issued Sunday, Justice Sue Cooper agreed and granted an injunction.

Cooper sided with those seeking the injunction who argued that the air guns used to blast sound waves through the water would damage the hearing of marine mammals.

Cooper’s decision notes that there are protocols in place to lessen the impact of hearing loss, with the judge saying the fact that such protocols exist means there could be an impact on wildlife and the food supply of the Inuit communities near the testing.

“On the whole of the evidence presented, I am satisfied that Inuit in the five affected communities will suffer irreparable harm if an injunction is not granted,” the decision reads.