Hunters hurt by gas hike
Nunavut's recent gas increase will cost Inuit hunters almost $1 million extra for fuel

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Feb 14/00) - Inuit hunters will pay almost $1 million more to hunt this year after January's hike in gas prices.

Concerned about what a five cents per litre increase would mean to the 6,258 registered hunters, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. produced cost estimates for three categories of hunters.

"We've broken the hunters into three categories -- intensive, active and occasional -- and the total cost increase in gas prices to all three groups is $878,680," said NTI President Paul Quassa.

"Inuit have the right to hunt, fish and trap and with the gas price increase some of our hunters are going to cease to exercise that right."

An intensive hunter is said to be on the land an average of three times a week, while an active hunter is out 1.5 days a week. An occasional hunter is out for half a day each week.

Using snowmobiles to hunt for about 32 weeks a year, it is estimated that 40 litres of gas is used by each hunter per hunting day.

Fuel consumption then doubles to 80 litres a day for the remaining 20 weeks of the year when boats replace snowmobiles.

"Surely this will mean a decrease in country foods," said Quassa.

"We're looking into various options and working with the birthright corporations to see what we can do."

In a letter written to Manitok Thompson, the minister of public works, telecommunications and technical services, NTI asked for help in any way.

In the government's reply, however, NTI was advised to deal with the problem themselves.

Minister Thompson refused to speak on the issue, stating she had already given enough interviews about the gas prices.

Meanwhile, Roy Green, a comptroller for the GN's Petroleum Products Division, says there are options that can be explored.

"At this point in time I don't think there is any action being taken, but maybe there could be discussions with the GN," said Green.

"There are always alternatives that can be looked at."

Green also said it is likely that nothing will happen until the next retail pricing submission in October and November.

"When you do a price increase in the North you don't only worry about the hunters and trappers, you have to worry about the general consumers as a whole."

"In this situation, the pricing increase didn't cover the full transportation and product cost, the government absorbed between 3 and 4 cents -- meaning the total increase was roughly 9 to 10 cents a litre."

NTI will continue to look into the issue and had it on the agenda for their board of directors meeting that was cancelled last week because of weather.