The work that precipitated the QTC began as early as 2000, when QIA together with the Makivik Corporation of Nunavik called for the federal government to launch a public inquiry into the killing of qimmiit between 1950 and 1975.2
In 2002, QIA established committees to examine issues related to social policy, language, and dog slaughter/relocation3. In 2004, QIA began collecting testimony directly from Inuit to better understand how government policies, programs and decisions affected them and their families, and profoundly and irreversibly altered their way of life. The most profound impacts resulted from the loss of qimmiit and relocations from ilagiit nunagivaktangat4 to established communities in the decades following World War II.
On March 5 2005, in response to mounting pressure, the Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development reported to the House of Commons a motion calling on the federal government to inquire into the alleged slaughtering of Inuit sled dogs in the North between 1950 and 1970. In response, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Anne McLellan, requested that the RCMP conduct acomprehensive review of all actions related to sled dogs in the North during this time5.
The resulting RCMP report concluded that there was no evidence of an organized slaughter of sled dogs by RCMP during the time in question, under their own initiative or directed by government policy. Rather, some dogs were destroyed for reasons of public health and/or public safety.6 The RCMP report was quickly and soundly rejected by QIA and Makivik, who announced in 2006 that they were sponsoring a truth commission “to set the historical record straight”7.
The Qikiqtani Truth Commission is the first Inuit-sponsored and Inuit-led initiative of its kind. It is also a rare example of a comprehensive social justice inquiry led by an Aboriginal organization.
2 Northern News Services, July 5, 2000: “The Killing of Dogs. Explanation sought for ‘dog team slaughter’”. Accessed online: http://www.nnsl.com/frames/newspapers/2000-06/jun5_00dogs.html
3 QIA Timeline.
4 Inuktitut term meaning “a place used regularly or seasonally by Inuit for hunting, harvesting and/or gathering”.
5 Nunatsiaq News. December 8, 2006. “RCMP: Dogs killed for health and safety”. Accessed online: http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/archives/61208/news/nunavut/61208_03.html
6 RCMP. 2006. “Final Report: RCMP Review of Allegations Concerning Inuit Sled Dogs.
7 QIA and Makivik Corporation. 2006. “Press Release: RCMP self-investigation does not reveal the truth about the slaughter of Inuit sled dogs in the 1950s and 1960s”.