Request denied
Bear hunt a safety concern

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Coral Harbour (Dec 08/99) - Coral Harbour's Noah Kadlak is not about to let go of his dream easily.

Kadlak was denied a request to conduct a polar bear hunt with a spear and dog team by Sustainable Development Minister Peter Kilabuk.

He is seeking public support in hopes of changing the minister's mind.

Kadlak says he began seeking permission to conduct the hunt in August 1997.

He says three separate governing bodies have discussed his request and all have agreed to support it.

"Mr. Kilabuk based his decision on the belief a traditional polar bear hunt is a risk to public safety," says Kadlak.

"I would like to point out several reasonable and rational conditions regarding safety concerns were implemented by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) and attached to its recommendation to the minister."

Kadlak says he would ensure adequate safety on the hunt by having backup hunters with rifles present.

He says although the hunt would be filmed by the Toronto-based company, Arctic Bear Productions, it would not be a public event.

"The minister is legislating how much risk people in the North can take of their own free will.

"The traditional bowhead whale hunt is risky. So are sea kayaking trips, rock climbing, Ski-Dooing and hunting on thin ice.

"The North will always be full of risky pastimes."

The acting director of research, policy and legislation for Sustainable Development, Peter Ittinuar, says Kilabuk took a long look at the request before making his decision.

"Under Article 5, 3.13, of the Land Claims, the minister has the power to veto any decision or recommendation made by the NWMB," says Ittinuar.

"He has a fairly large wildlife division and, after carefully analyzing the request, concluded it constituted what he considered to be an unacceptable risk to public safety."

Ittinuar says a minister cannot be expected to sanction an activity which constitutes a safety concern.

"There is quite a risk factor there. We talked to many elders and the vast majority of them said the spear was something they had to use when it was absolutely necessary.

"Rifles are now a much safer and quicker way to do this."

Kadlak says he still wants to know why the possibility of a personal safety issue should be held in higher regard than the right to reinstate and practice traditional hunting rights in the North.

He says the Nunavut government is treating Northern people as children, making decisions for them as to what personal risk can be taken.

"My motivation for hunting the bear is based on a desire to celebrate my hunting education and upbringing.

"The bear hunt is a personal expression of my identity and would provide a means for me and my associates to talk in an educational and meaningful way about what Inuit culture and tradition really mean in Nunavut and how it affects its people."