An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
April 19, 2003 - Issue 85
New Wildlife Bill built
on Inuktitut Principles
by JIM BELL - Nunatsiaq News
credits: photo - Sustainable Development Minister Olayuk Akesuk introduced Nunavuts proposed new wildlife bill in the legislative assembly last week. Courtesy of Nunatsiaq News
proposed new wildlife act, Bill 35, builds on a solid Inuit base, encoding
a set of Inuktitut concepts and principles to ensure the law is applied
in ways that are consistent with Inuit culture.
means Bill 35, which received first and second reading last Friday in
the legislative assembly, is the first major Nunavut-made law to define
Inuit cultural values within its text.
bill addresses wildlife management in a way that fully takes into account
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. Inuit values and principles must be followed
in a way that makes the bill especially relevant to Nunavummiut,"
a summary of the act states.
that end, the bill contains a section entitled "Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit."
Its a list of 13 "guiding principles and concepts" that
must be used when applying the new wildlife law.
writing the bill, the Government of Nunavut conducted a lengthy consultation
exercise, which included meetings and visits to most communities.
are very pleased that we consulted with Inuit and by working with them
while we were doing the consultation tours on wildlife," Sustainable
Development Minister Olayuk Akesuk said when introducing the bill for
first reading last week.
the legal version of the new wildlife law is written in English, it lists
numerous Inuktitut words giving legal weight to the Inuktitut concepts
those words represent.
example, the word Aajiiqatigiingniq is defined as "people who wish
to resolve important matters or differences of interest must treat each
other with respect and discuss them in a meaningful way, keeping in mind
that just because a person is silent, it does not necessarily mean he
or she agrees."
bill then says Aajiiqatigiingniq must be followed when meetings, discussions
or consultations take place under the new wildlife act.
example is Avatimik Kamattiarniq, which is defined as "people are
stewards of the environment and must treat all of nature holistically
and with respect."
bill then says that the GN, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, regional
wildlife organizations, HTOs, conservation officers, and every person
who harvests wildlife must use their best efforts to follow Avatimik Kamattiarniq.
bill lists 11 other Inuktitut concepts that must be used to interpret
the act and guide the work of government, various non-governmental organizations,
and conservation officers.
current wildlife law, inherited from the Northwest Territories, is badly
creating a replacement for it, the GN would meet one of its obligations
under the land claims agreement. The bill also reflects newer federal
laws and international treaties that have come into force since the current
wildlife act was created in the early 1970s.
new treaties and laws include the Agreement on International Humane Trapping
Standards, the International Convention on Biodiversity and the federal
governments new Species at Risk Act.
bill would create a Nunavut Species at Risk Committee that would advise
the NWMB on what species should be protected. The GN would have the power
to enforce NWMB decisions on the management of endangered species.
accordance with the land claims agreement, the act states that any Inuk
may hunt without a licence, and does not have to pay a fee or tax.
there is no quota established, harvesting may not exceed "the full
level of the Inuks economic, social and cultural needs."
there is a quota, or "total allowable harvest," harvesting may
not exceed his or her adjusted basic needs level.
term "adjusted basic needs level" means the amount harvested
from any given species, as calculated within the Nunavut wildlife harvesting
survey conducted by the NWMB.
NWMB is still fine-tuning those levels in consultation with community
hunters and trappers organizations across Nunavut. Once theyre set,
those "adjusted basic needs level" numbers will be used to guide
all future quota decisions, where quotas are deemed necessary.
35 would allow live animals to be exported from Nunavut, but only on a
case-by-case basis, and only after the issuance of a permit.
for violating the wildlife law would be much stiffer than they are now.
Under the current wildlife act, the maximum penalty for a general violation
is a $1,000 fine and/or a year in jail.
under the new law, individuals convicted on wildlife act charges would
be subject to a $500,000 fine and/or six months in jail, and corporations
could be fined up to a million dollars.
an offence takes place over several days, courts could impose such fines
for each day an offence took place.
bill also contains words intended to protect wildlife habitat and to create
"special management areas" and "administrative areas."
no future territorial wildlife sanctuaries and wildlife preserves would
be created, although existing ones would be continued.
The act also sets out basic minimum rules for the kinds of methods and weapons that may be used for hunting, but more detailed rules will be produced later in regulations attached to the act.
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