Nunavut Post

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Iqaluit’s Qimuksiqtiit gathering provides a clear path to revitalizing Inuit dog teams

Inuit dog teams

Key Takeaways:

  • The Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) welcomed dog teamers from all over Qikiqtani to the first-ever Qimuksiqtiit Regional Gathering held in Iqaluit from November 16 to 18.

Inuit dog mushers from the high Arctic to south Baffin gathered at the Frobisher Inn to discuss reintroducing dog teaming to the territory after seven decades of hardship.

The dog slaughters of the 1950s to 1970s, in which the RCMP killed hundreds of sled dogs in the eastern Arctic to force Inuit into the communities they primarily live in today, were one of the more notable topics raised early.

That was the 1st order of business for Qimuksiqtiit Gathering, according to Hagar Idlout-Sudlovenick, QIA’s director of social policy. “It always comes up in every community. So we wanted to get that out of the way right away to move on to lighter topics and look further ahead. “What will dog teaming look like?” said Idlout-Sudlovenick.

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Tukisigiarvik provided mental health supports for dog teamers, according to Inukshuk Aksalnik, the Qikiqtani Truth Commission (QTC) implementation and programs manager, given that many are still alive to remember the dog slaughter.

“It’s a lived experience, a lived memory; dogs were killed not long ago,” Aksalnik explained. As part of bringing dog teams back to the territory, the QTC launched the Qimmiit Revitalization program. Covid-19, intended initially to support groups during the Nunavut Quest financially, has forced QIA to redirect these funds to the dog teams themselves.

While the assistance has greatly aided Qikiqtani dog teams, the high cost of living in Nunavut has prompted QIA to consider increasing their service to dog teamers, as expressed by those attending Qimuksiqtiit.

“The overall message I heard was that the Qimuksiqtiit project we have, the $3,000 grant we have for dog teamers is beneficial, but it is insufficient.” “A bag of kibble in Arctic Bay is close to $200, and if you have a team of 16 (dogs), that can add up very quickly,” said Aksalnik, adding that increasing the amount of money given out is an option in the future.

“Elders are always willing to teach; the youth should not be afraid to ask,” Aksalnik said.

While QIA does not intend to make this an annual event, they hope to continue hosting Qimuksiqtiit every two or three years. This first gathering, they claim, has provided a much more straightforward approach to assisting Qikiqtani dog teams.

Source: Nunavutnews

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