The Fan Hitch PostScript
Number 3, posted
May 2019
In this Post

From the Editor: A Cautionary Tale

Media Review: How to Tame a Fox:
(and Build a Dog)

The Qimuksiq Network’s Iqaluit Meeting
Qimmeerukkaluarpat: When the Dogs are Gone

The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum: Dogs at Work in the North

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Iqaluit dog on the picket line                Photo: Hamilton

Qimuksiq Network:

Balancing Illness and Wellness at the Human-Dog Interface in Northern Canada

On March 19, 2019 the Qimuksiq Network held its Human-Dog Interface Workshop II in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. The first was held on December 11, 2017 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. From the Network’s website:
The overarching goal of this workshop is to set up collaborations between Iqaluit stakeholders (Nunavut government, City of Iqaluit, Inuit organizations, local organizations, dog drivers, dog owners, etc.) and public and animal-health and social science researchers. This workshop aims at informing the questions or topics at the dog-human interface relevant to Iqaluit stakeholders that already funded research can address.
Here is the meeting’s agenda:

The full report of the meeting is in process. Below are the Qimuksiq Network’s principal investigator Professor Francis Lévesque’s notes from the post-workshop discussions with attending dog team owners.

Notes on the topics and concerns brought up by Iqaluit, Nunavut dog team owners
    •    It was mentioned that it would be important to have orientation for Qallunaat who come up and live in Iqaluit to let them know how to be towards dogs and what to expect about dogs in town. For example, Qallunaat need to understand that their dogs cannot befriend sled dogs. It mentioned that this could be done by creating a 5-10 minute film using the available resources and talents here in town. The film could be put on YouTube, shown in class, etc. Some even joked it should be shown at the airport.

    •    Many dog team owners would like stricter territorial laws that would help controlling the inflow of pet dogs into the territory. This is seen as a problem because, among other things, it can weaken the genetic pool of sled dogs.

    •     Some mentioned the difficulties surround in raising dogs in an urban environment. There needs to be discussions with the city. Need for concerted efforts. There should be space to allow dogs to run, to butcher animals to feed dogs country food (i.e. seal). Land should be accessible and there should be a permanent space given to dogs, not a space that could be renegotiated by the city every few years. In the same vein, the Canadian Inuit Dog and dog-team bylaw #537 should be reviewed and adapted to current realities.

    •    There has to be ways to remove barriers and increase access to dog teaming. Having a dog team is expensive and requires lots of time, efforts and knowledge. It can look daunting for
younger people who would be interested but lack the funds, support, mentoring, etc. This is a must since dog teaming is practiced less and less throughout Baffin. In fact, if it were not for the Nunavut Quest, dog teaming would be even less important. Possible solution: some institutions should own dog teams and hire dog team owners to teach those people interested in driving team. That would remove the potential financial burden from the shoulders of many potential learners. Dog team owners would also be willing to train young people, but they need support to be able to do so. Participants also mentioned that it could be interesting to involve young offenders and show them the trade.

    •    Following the recommendations from the QTC (Qikiqtani Truth Commission), it could be a good idea to develop initiatives to improve mental health, especially among men who have never learned dog teaming from their fathers. It would be important to put in place initiatives to help men regain confidence and learn knowledge they should have learned in their youth had not it been for the killing of dogs. This is especially important since dogs are good at saving lives.

    •    Participants stressed the importance of a Federal government apology for the killing of dogs; this would allow men and women to move on. [This is also linked to mental health.]

    •    Activities must be organized to show how amazing dog teaming can be. Some participants talked about the Nunavut Quest, the former race held between Iqaluit and Kimmirut, and Ivakkak in Nunavik, and they mentioned how these races were amazing for them, but also for the communities (people of every generation get involved, kids play, etc.).

    •    There should be someone hired full time with core funding whose job would be to create activities to improve the outreach of dog team owners toward the community, organize activities like races, invite dog drivers from other communities to share their knowledge and experience with the whole community, write grant applications, coordinate activities, etc. Again, this would go toward improving mental health. We cannot rely on dog drivers, who are busy with their teams and jobs as it is, to make this happen by themselves. Maybe this could be done with researchers involving NS [Nunavut Sivuniksavut. a post-secondary Inuit education program based in Ottawa] or former NS students