Arctic Bay film ban turns touring groups away

A major tour operator has stopped taking visitors to a Baffin Island community to view and film the ice floe edge, after the local hunters and trappers organization banned filming at the floe edge earlier this year.

At least onemajor tour operator has stopped taking visitors toaBaffin Island communityto view and film the ice floe edge, after the local hunters and trappers organization banned filmingat the floe edgeearlier this year.

The Arctic Bay hunters and trappers organization imposed the film ban in May, after seeing a draft article by a photojournalist who had spent some time on the floe edge photographing hunters during the annual spring narwhal hunt.

Members of the organization say the article, which was prepared for National Geographic magazine, cast Inuit in a negative light because it included quotations from hunters talking about a number of narwhal being shot but not retrieved.

Tommy Kilabuk, chair of the organization,told CBC News that Inuit have been exploited too much in the past. After seeing the draft, he said his group felt it needed to protect the reputation of Inuit hunters.

Kilabuk did not say how long the ban will be in effect.

But Graham Dickson, an expedition leader with Arctic Kingdom Marine Expeditions, said his company won't bring tourists back to Arctic Bay unless things change.

Dickson, whose Toronto-based touring company has taken tourists and film crews to view the floe edge from Arctic Bay for the past six years, said he instead rerouted his group ofvisitors to Pond Inlet, about 240 kilometres east of Arctic Bay.

"We literally changed their tickets to move from Arctic Bay, from Nanisivik, to fly straight on to Resolute where they stayed for almost a week, and then we flew them… from Resolute to Pond Inlet to take them out to the floe edge north of Pond," Dickson said.

He said the community has potentially lost up to $200,000 in tourism revenue this year as a result of the ban.

Arctic Bay resident Clare Kines, who owns Kiggavik Bed and Breakfast, said he lost about $6,000. Kines said he has billed the hunters and trappersgroup for the lost income.

"The decision has had an effect that is going to go for years, because it has affected Arctic Bay's reputation as a welcoming community," Kines said.

"A major outfitter that was bringing in film crews and other tourists into the area and was trying to expand their operations here has pulled out."

The hunters and trappers organization and the touring company say they agree there's a need for clear guidelines for filmmakers and tourists interested in filming the floe edge.