Monday, December 2, 1996

Past obligations

Forty-three years ago, 17 Inuit families were relocated to Grise Fiord and Resolute.

Controversy continues to surround the story, but there can be little doubt the federal government's primary interest was establishing Canada's sovereignty in the High Arctic.

Earlier this year Ottawa gave those families $10 million in compensation. But there are other, continuing costs associated with maintaining a presence in

in the region -- costs that could include flying in winter food supplies that couldn't make it through early-season ice, as was the case this fall in Grise Fiord.

Some might argue the residents of Grise Fiord should either bear the economic brunt of living in such an inaccessible place or leave. But they were moved there out of political expediency, so how can we expect them to abandon what is now their home?

The fairest solution is to split the $80,000 cost of the 1996 Grise Fiord airlift among the residents, the federal and territorial governments.

Furthermore, because there is only one retail store in the community, there is no need for each family making individual claims, as suggested by Premier Don Morin. ( 12/2/96 )

The market's questionable wisdom

The future of the trapping business in the NWT will probably be determined December 9.

That's when the environment ministers of the countries that belong to the European Union will decide whether to proceed with a ban on furs trapped "inhumanely."

This concern for the well-being of God's creatures flows from a group whose member nations chase foxes with dogs while riding horses, make handbags from the skin of unborn calves, force-feed geese so they can make their livers into hors d'oeuvres, watch men stick spears into bulls until they are too weak to fight and detonate nuclear devices in South Pacific atolls.

Despite their taste in recreational activities, Europeans are upset by the leghold trap. Canadian, Russian and American negotiators have been working to soothe the sensitive European conscience with ideas such as the "quick kill" trap. In Canada more than 100,000 leg-hold traps have been swapped for the kinder, gentler variety in the last five years.

Canadians have been researching more humane methods of trapping animals and have trained some 6,000 trappers in new techniques.

Considering that trapping is the principle source of income for 2,500 Northerners, this is no small issue. That's about three times the number of jobs that will be created by BHP.

The importance of the fur trade to the Northern economy cannot dismissed. But neither can the effects of a European ban on the livelihood of many a Northerner.

Whatever we think of European hypocrisy, the fact is the European market consumes 75 per cent of Canada's furs. And in this case, the market will probably have the last word. ( 12/2/96 )