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More trainers are getting trained

Firearms safety courses to become increasingly available to Nunavummiut

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 13/01) - Three Department of Sustainable Development employees are now trained master instructors under the Firearms Act.

Andrew Keim, Mitch Taylor and Alden Williams all took the course and received their certificates earlier this month. The training enables the trio to train other instructors to offer the required Canadian Firearms Safety Course.

Josh Mitsima, federal firearms officer for Nunavut, said the master instructor training course was designed to increase the number of residents participating in the safety courses.

While there are ways to be exempted, by and large the course is mandatory for Nunavummiut who want to apply for their acquisition and possession gun licence for rifles and shotguns.

Because just 12 residents are currently trained to offer the program to residents of the territory's 26 communities, having three in-house trainers makes it possible to increase the number of people qualified to offer the education.

Mitsima said two senior officials from the Canadian Firearms Centre travelled to Nunavut to offer the training.

"Now they're able to train instructors and give the course," said Mitsima.

He also said he hopes to be able to offer similar training to Nunavut Arctic College instructors and to Department of Education staff this fall.

"They're considering integrating it into their scheduled curriculum," he explained.

Mitch Taylor said he took the course to minimize the effect of the legislation on Nunavummiut.

"The whole idea is for everybody to have access to the licence," said Taylor, a polar bear biologist.

"One of the things we're trying to do is get ourselves trained first and then to pass it on to other instructors," he said.

"This way, (the legislation) won't affect lifestyles, hunting or target shooting."

Nunavummiut have repeatedly said that since the onset of the new legislation, traditional harvesting practices have been negatively impacted. Nunavut Tunngavik is pursuing legal action against the federal government on the grounds that the legislation violates the federal law set out in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.