HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, LABRADOR – “Hunting is an extremely important part of Southern Inuit culture and caribou has been a traditional food and way of life for our people for generations. The startling low numbers are a serious cause of concern for us and we have a responsibility as Inuit, as do other Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, to do all we can to help protect the animals. We want young people to know about caribou and to always have it be a part of their culture,” says Todd Russell, President of NCC.
The NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) today announced it will continue a moratorium on hunting the George River Caribou Herd (GRCH). This is one of a number of measures NCC is taking to protect the herd.
A news release issued by provincial Environment and Climate Change Minister Perry Trimper stated that, according to a July 2016 census, less than 9,000 caribou remain in the herd. This rapid decline is a stark reminder to all who care about the caribou that immediate actions must be taken to ensure no further decline. One tangible example is no harvesting. NCC is also an advocate for tough environmental policy that protects the herd from resource projects and factors the protection of the herd into climate change policy and plans.
The Southern Inuit have always had an important relationship with caribou and its protection and conservation has been a priority for NCC. In 2003, NCC developed its first Caribou Harvesting Plan, as well as interim conservation and safety guidelines for its hunters. In 2012, it initiated a voluntary hunting moratorium on the GRCH, based on traditional knowledge and science. NunatuKavut is also an active member of the Ungava Peninsula Caribou Aboriginal Round Table (UPCART), which includes all Indigenous groups and Nations in the Quebec-Labrador peninsula that have a relationship with the GRCH. UPCART is an Indigenous-driven initiative and it has taken a very strong leadership role. A caribou management strategy is currently being finalized to protect the caribou for the well-being of current and future generations.
- The population of the GRCH was estimated at approximately 800,000 about 20 years ago.
- The population of the GRCH was estimated to be under 9,000 in 2016.
- UPCART membership is comprised of the following: the Inuit of Nunavik, the Inuit of Nunatsiavut, the
NunatuKavut Community Council, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government (GCC(EI)/CNG), the Innu Nation of Labrador and all the Innu communities from the Québec region.
- NCC is the representative governing body for approximately 6,000 Inuit of south and central Labrador, collectively known as the Southern Inuit of NunatuKavut.