From the Editor: An Outsider's Perceptions
The Gaze of Animal Life
In the News
Conducting Dog Feeding Trials on the Antarctic Huskies:
a behind the scenes look at how it got done!
Further Experiments on the nutrition of sledge dogs
How Use of the name Inuit became official
An Examination of Traditional Knowledge:
the case of the Inuit Sled Dog, part 4
Chinook Project visits Northern Labrador
Media Review: Qimmit - A Clash of Two Truths
IMHO: In Transition
Index: Volume 12, The Fan Hitch
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Index of back issues by volume number
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The Inuit Sled Dog International
The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) is a consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the preservation of this ancient arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog. The ISDI's efforts are concentrated on restoring the pure Inuit Dog to its native habitat. The ISDI's coordinators welcome to your comments and questions.
"Neither situations nor people can be altered by the interference of an outsider. If they are to be altered, that alteration must come from within."
Phyllis Forbes Dennis (1884 -1963) British novelist and short story writer
An Outsider's Perceptions
When I learned of the 2010 Operation Nunalivut plans to include a joint high arctic military exercise with the Danish Sirius Dog Sledge Patrol, I saw this as an opportunity to propose to the powers-that-be at both the federal level as well as within the governing bodies and other Inuit organizations of Nunavut the possibility of establishing a Sirius Patrol-like facility for the breeding, care and use of traditional Inuit Dogs as a means of surveilling high arctic regions and maintaining that all important (as has been declared) arctic sovereignty. I sent out nine letters in which I described the importance of the traditional Inuit Dog not only within the Arctic but also to various groups (geneticists, evolutionary biologists, ethologists and cynologists among others) in the rest of the world. And I suggested as how establishing a program for Canadian Rangers not unlike what the Sirius Patrol has successfully maintained for over a half-century would be a way to provide a future for the currently threatened traditional Inuit Dog in the Canadian North.
I received two replies, one from Peter MacKay, Canada’s Minister of Defence and the other from Mary Simon, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, ITK - the national Inuit organization in Canada, representing four Inuit regions - Nunatsiavut (Labrador), Nunavik (northern Quebec), Nunavut, and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories).
Minister MacKay began his response with a history of the Canadian Rangers, their mission and how they operate, explaining that some Rangers actually do use dog teams. As did Captain Neal Whitman, whom I interviewed for the OP Nunalivut 10 article in the June issue of The Fan Hitch, Minister MacKay explained that, "The role and mission of the Canadian Rangers guides operations and training, activities for which military infrastructure is not built; we instead rely on civilian infrastructure already in place. The Rangers use their own equipment for which they are financially compensated. As they conduct patrols year round, compensation is also provided for a wide variety of land and water modes of travel.…Your keen desire to preserve the magnificent Inuit Sled Dog breed is admirable."
ITK President Simon acknowledged our activities on behalf of the Inuit Dog and graciously thanked us. She added, "As you know Inuit are also working at preserving the breed, notably with the Ivakkak race started in the Nunavik region in 2001….We have named 2010 as Year of the Inuit, in an effort to make our issues better known among Canadians and the international community.…Again, thank you for your efforts at preserving our Inuit sled dogs."
Well, to this outsider it sure seemed like a good idea at the time. During the interview with Captain Whitman, I immediately understood why, given the current way the Canadian military utilizes the services of the Canadian Rangers, the chances of even considering a Canadian version of the Sirius Sledge Dog Patrol was way out of the realm of a possibility. Minister MacKay's response was a reaffirmation of that on a federal government level. President Simon echoed a belief held by other northerners that events such as Ivakkak represent a means of Inuit Dog preservation. I respectfully disagree…at least partly. Ivakkak alone cannot assure a focus on adequate numbers and the necessary genetic diversity to prevent this primitive aboriginal breed from disappearing into history. While I am very appreciative of the kind comments regarding southern efforts to "preserve" the breed, what is really needed for success is a Canadian-wide effort on several fronts. I believe there is a role to play for government at both the territorial and federal level, but Arctic residents/mushers are the ones who must really want to do this.
If I am disappointed by the twenty or so percent response rate to my letter writing campaign, I am totally mystified by the recommendations in the "Final Report of the Honorable Jean-Jacques Croteau Retired Judge of Superior Court Regarding the Allegations Concerning the Slaughter of Inuit Sled Dogs in Nunavik (1950 -- 1970)" (See In the News in this issue). Given just how long and hard Makivik has pushed for this dog slaughter investigation and a resolution and how very important it all seems to be, why wasn’t more of the financial resolution suggested for dog-related issues, veterinary care for example.? A February 28, 2010 Nunatsiaq News story describes the possibility of "region-wide vet service" in the future, but that appears to be contingent on needed funding. Again, because I am outsider looking in, perhaps I am missing a logical reason for Judge Croteau's conclusions about how the anticipated fiduciary settlement should be distributed. On August 19th I emailed my contact at Makivik asking for a better understanding of the judge's decision. I am still waiting to be enlightened.
Wishing you smooth ice and narrow leads,