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Inuit commission blasts RCMP's report on dog slaughter

A commission that explored Inuit claims that RCMP slaughtered thousands of sled dogs half a century ago has harshly criticized a 2006 RCMP report that dismissed those allegations.

A commission that explored Inuit claims that RCMP slaughtered thousands of sled dogs half a century ago has harshly criticized a 2006 RCMP report that dismissed those allegations.

The Qikiqtani Truth Commission, which also looked at the effect of Canadian government decisions on Inuit between 1950 and 1980, released early findings from its investigation to the Qikiqtani Inuit Association earlier this month.

Inuit in the eastern Arctic have long alleged that RCMP officers systematically killed about 20,000 sled dogs in what is now Nunavut, the Nunavik region of northern Quebec and the Nunatsiavut region of Labrador.

The truth commission's early report includes a critical review of the RCMP's investigation of the Inuit sled-dog claims, which led to a 2006 report concluding that there was no evidence an organized mass slaughter took place.

"The question or the allegation they were responding to was very narrow," Madeleine Redfern, the commission's executive director, told CBC News on Thursday.

"It was the allegation that the RCMP had killed 20,000 sled dogs for the purpose of forcing the Inuit to move into the [western] settlements."

Some Inuit elders, like Enuapik Sageatook of Iqaluit, recalled the difficulties her family faced in gathering food after police had killed their sled dogs.

Speaking in Inuktitut, Enuapik said she will be happy once the truth commission's investigation is done because it seems to have gone on for a long time.

Redfern said the national police force is currently co-operating actively in the truth commission's process, which began in January 2008 with public hearings across Nunavut's Baffin region.

The commission's final report, which will be released in March, is expected to be well-received by both Inuit and the RCMP, she said, noting that she's seen a spirit of co-operation from both sides over the past year.

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