The Current

Iqaluit debates opening first beer and wine store in 40 years

The community in Iqaluit is debating the pros and cons of opening a beer and wine store next year, trying to balance the destructive impact of alcoholism with the changing needs of the city.
Nunavut struggles with the consequences of alcohol abuse even though getting your hands on a bottle of wine or beer isn't as simple as walking into a liquor store. Now the territory is considering a change to its liquor laws--which would see Iqaluit's first beer and wine store in forty years.

iqaluit-beer-insert.jpg

Iqaluit's liquor store was shut down in 1976. It now
serves as a liquor warehouse. (CBC)

Iqaluit is not a dry community, but getting a hold of a bottle is not straightforward. There's no retail liquor store, and many people like it that way. They blame the one the community had forty years ago for contributing to the abuse problems.

But there still are abuse problems, and some believe it's time that Iqaluit get in line with other Canadian cities.

The government is proposing to open a store in Nunavut's capital that would sell beer and wine. The idea will be put to public consultation next month. But this is a really divisive issue.


Salome Awa is a producer at CBC Iqaluit, and has been following the story.


Special Report: Booze Beyond 60° -- CBC North


The last time Iqaluit residents were able to buy alcohol from a store was in 1975. Many recall those times as unhappy for their community. But Iqaluit is a city now, no longer a hamlet and things are quickly changing.

Three long time residents of Nunavut who have seen it all, have some thoughts to share on the idea of opening a beer and wine store in Iqaluit.


  • Ann Meekitjuk-Hanson is the former Commissioner of Nunavut. She is a retired translator, broadcaster and activist who has lived in Iqaluit for most of her life.

  • Bryan Pearson is a businessman and former Mayor of Iqaluit.

  • Tagak Curley is a retired Nunavut MLA who joins us from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

The Nunavut government will hold its day of consultation on the opening of the beer and wine store on October 7th. We'll keep you posted as to what happens.


Let us know what you think -- especially if you live in Nunavut and have a stake in this.

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This segment was produced by The Current's  Ines Colabrese.

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