The killing of dogs
Explanation sought for 'dog-team slaughter'

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Iqaluit ( Jun 05/00) - The Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) is calling on Ottawa to hold a public inquiry into the killing of sled dogs from 1950-1975.

QIA, along with the Makivik Corporation (which represents Inuit in Nunavik), has filed a letter to Robert Nault, minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Both organizations want an inquiry into the sled-dog killings that were carried out by government officials in the Baffin Region and Northern Quebec.

DIAND declined comment on the matter.

QIA president Pauloosie Keeyootak said the Inuit were not consulted.

"They were given no notice whatsoever and they had no choice, and at times there was a danger to the public," Keeyootak said via a translator.

"The dog teams at the time were their only way of hunting, to provide the families in the communities at the camps at the time. That was before snowmachines were even up in the North."

The QIA and Makivik want to help set the terms of the inquiry and are seeking funding to cover their participation.

The QIA has started gathering testimony from people affected by the killings and Keeyootak said his organization has not yet made a formal request for compensation for those affected by the "dog-team slaughter."

"They (the dogs) were their way of life."

Keeyootak said the QIA does not accept the reasons given by Ottawa to justify its dog-killing policy, such as the control of diseases like rabies and to improve public safety.

Keeyootak said Ottawa may have wanted to force Inuit to gather into communities.

"The Inuit lived in outlying areas. Say, for instance, the residents of Iqaluit would have lived all along in an outlying area in camps," Keeyootak said.

"Part of it was to force the parents to send their kids to school, and by killing their dog teams, then they would have no way of going back out to the camps."

Keeyootak said Ottawa has not responded to their request.

Meanwhile, chief superintendent Chris Bothe of the Iqaluit RCMP is involved in a "consultation process" with affected communities, Staff Sgt. Andrew Boland said Thursday.

(Bothe was out of town last week.)

"There is no investigation under way by us or the Government of Canada," Boland said.

He said that Bothe has met with the commanding officer's Advisory Committee.

"He had a meeting with them in March and sought direction from them about how to deal with (this issue)," Boland said.

"The committee clearly directed him to deal with each matter on a case by case basis, and to consult with the communities affected."