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Booze flows, bullets fly

Jillian Dickens
Northern News Services

Clyde River (Dec 12/05) - Shots fired during a drunken outburst left Clyde River residents afraid and wondering what was going on.

Annie Tigullaraq was at her friend's house at the time.

"I was very scared," she said.

Controlled communities

Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Baker Lake, Qikiqtarjuaq, Cape Dorset, Chesterfield Inlet, Hall Beach, Iglulik, Pond Inlet, Repulse Bay, Resolute

Dry communities

Gjoa Haven, Arviat, Coral Harbour, Kimmirut, Pangnirtung, Kugaaruk, Sanikiluaq, Whale Cove

Non-regulated communities

Iqaluit, Taloyoak, Grise Fiord, Bathurst Inlet

-- Information provided by the Nunavut Liquor Commission

On Nov. 27 four people were thrown in the drunk tank and several gun shots fired in the air were heard echoing through the streets.

Cpl. Keith Hendricks confirms at least three shots were fired, and one live bullet was found lying in the street.

"There was an intoxicated male shooting off a rifle into the air three times for sure, and possibly four more times," he said.

Nobody was hurt and one person has been charged with careless use of a weapon.

A person did apologize on local radio for scaring people and causing a disturbance.

This outburst happened just after First Air delivered a liquor order consisting of 12 cases of booze in various forms.

Hendricks says the RCMP gets a bit busier when the liquor arrives, but Nov. 27 was especially eventful.

He has heard of one case where 13 people were held in the Clyde River jail in one night for being intoxicated.

"But I can't confirm that," he said.

In Iglulik, Const. Andre Turcotte concurs with Hendricks that the RCMP is sure to be busier when the booze arrives.

"It happens once in a while, not always, though," said Turcotte. "It's usually the same 10 people that cause a disturbance. On some occasions when we know these people are going to get booze, we know we will be busy.

"I think that's the same around Nunavut, at least in the controlled communities."

Clyde River and Iglulik are controlled communities, which means all liquor orders must go through the Alcohol Education Committee - a community elected group which decides who's orders are approved.

Approvals and denials are based on whether the applicant has a history of alcohol abuse. Other factors, such as whether the person is depressed or suicidal, can also come into play, said acting senior administrative officer Sandy Kautuq.

Every community is different. In Clyde River, the limit is two bottles or two cases of beer a household, two times a month.

"And when (the alcohol) arrives the people drink all they want and they get crazy," said Tigullaraq. She said some people drink all their booze order in one night, usually with friends.

Tigullaraq said the controlled aspect lends itself to more alcohol abuse than if alcohol was readily available.

"If we had a bar or a liquor store and if we were tabbed, it would be better," she said.

Turcotte, on the other hand, said controlled communities are the way to go because the RCMP can make recommendations to the Alcohol Education Committee that certain people not be able to receive alcohol.

"I think if alcohol was just open to anyone at anytime, I think it would be more trouble," said Turcotte.

He also noted that restricted people can still find ways to get booze, whether it be through friends or family or whatever. Those who give restricted people booze can be reprimanded through booze restrictions as well, he said.

Once the committee approves liquor applications, they send them off to the Nunavut Liquor Commission.

The commission then checks to see if the applicant has not received his or her limit for the month already and subsequently approves the order.