North

Quebec failed to consult Inuit on long-gun registry, Makivik Corp. says

Nunavik Inuit had called for an exemption from Quebec's proposed long-gun registry, saying it would infringe on traditional hunting rights guaranteed in the the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. The long-gun registry came into effect Jan. 29, without meaningful consultation, Makivik Corp. says.

Province's new long-gun registry came into effect Jan. 29

Makivik Corp. executive vice-president Adamie Delisle Alaku said they have 'consistently' called for consultation on and an exemption from the long-gun registry, but now the law has come into effective and he says they have not been heard. (Submitted by Makivik Corp.)

The provincial government neglected to hold proper consultations on the long-gun registry, according to an organization that represents Inuit in Northern Quebec.

"We have not been heard and we have not been properly consulted in a meaningful manner," said Adamie Delisle Alaku, who is the executive vice-president of Makivik Corp., which represents Inuit in Nunavik.   

"There was no concrete outreach ever made to ensure compliance." 

The new long-gun registry came into effect on Jan. 29.

Makivik Corp. had previously requested full exemption from the bill for Nunavik Inuit until meaningful consultations took place. 

Delisle Alaku remains concerned that the act breaches treaty rights and provisions in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

"No accommodations were proposed to reflect particular territorial, traditional, cultural [or] linguistic context."

He said the rules should have, at the very least, been translated to Inuktitut.

"They're coming forth with the French act, so people that have difficulties just in mere English — it would have been difficult for them to understand this."

Firearms part of modern Inuit tradition

He said he isn't denying the safety components that need be be enforced when it comes to firearms, but cultural practices must be considered.

"We're sensitive to the fact that these have been sparked by massive disasters," he said.

"With that being said, we use these tools, these hunting firearms, to feed the communities."

The use of firearms is "heavily enshrined" in their ways of hunting and within treaty rights, he said. 

He said it's fair to say the firearm is a traditional tool, and said while Indigenous people didn't always hunt with guns it has become a tradition.

"We traded pelts and then we got guns. It was a tool that we got accustomed to."

Delisle Alaku said Makivik Corp. still needs to decide what to do next and he did not rule out litigation. 

"It's a bit frustrating for us because we've not been listened to since the beginning of this," Delisle Alaku said.

Under the new law, gun owners have 12 months to register their firearms online. 

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Security said the government is currently working on a response. 

with files from Michael Salomonie