Nearly 900 grams of marijuana seized in Natuashish


Nearly 900 grams of marijuana seized in Natuashish

The Natuashish RCMP seized 894 grams of Marijuana and $22,000 in cash, on June 21, after a search warrant was executed on a local residence.

In connection with the seizure, a 65-year-old male was arrested for possession of a drug for the purpose of trafficking. The man was released and has promised to appear in Provincial Court in December.

In a news release, the RCMP called the seizure “a significant hit to the illegal drug trade in this small isolated community.”

Former chief’s property robbed, vandalized


Simeon Tshakapesh of Natuashish claims community needs more order

Former Mushuau Innu Band Council chief Simeon Tshakapesh returned to Natuashish earlier this month and made a shocking discovery when he inspected his property.

Simeon Tshakapesh claims that his shed used to be full of his possessions, including a komatik and a woodstove, but now it’s all been stolen.

Tshakapesh lived in Natuashish much of his life, but moved to Sheshatshiu in November 2013, after he decided not to rerun for chief in the upcoming election.

Even though Tshakapesh moved to Sheshatshiu, he still owns his former Natuashish residence. Upon inspecting it during his trip in July, Tshakapesh found that his property had been vandalized and items stolen from his shed.

“My God, I was shocked … everything was stolen and all my lumber was stolen. My homemade stove, cost over $400, was stolen,” said Tshakapesh.

“You name it, it’s all gone, and I’ve lost thousands and thousands of dollars worth of stuff.”

Tshakapesh also claims that his komatik, jerry cans, ropes and hunting supplies were taken as well.

He noticed that his fence had been torn down and damage was done to the doors and windows of his house.

Tshakapesh said his sister was living in the house between December and March, so he figures much of the vandalism and theft happened after she moved out.

When asked why he left his possessions behind when he moved to Sheshatshiu, Tshakapesh said he had secured his house and shed strongly before leaving. He was under the false impression that everything was safe.

“Everything was all secured … somehow they got into my house and somehow they got into my shed,” said Tshakapesh.

Even when he was chief, Tshakapesh was worried about his property. He claims to have moved to Sheshatshiu for his and his family’s safety.

“When I was chief, there was a lot of vandalism happened to my place. Even my truck was shot at. My windshields were damaged (repeatedly) … I couldn’t keep up with the windshields,” said Tshakapesh.

“There were a lot of fires started behind our house.”

Based on his personal experience and stories that he has heard from others in the community, Tshakapesh believes the situation with theft and vandalism is out of control.

“There’s no order there anymore; that’s what people are telling me, …” he said.

Sgt. Cal Barter of the Natuashish RCMP detachment said he couldn’t comment of the alleged theft and vandalism of Tshakapesh’s property because it’s an active file.

When asked about the issue of vandalism and break and enters in Natuashish, Barter said the problem there is no worse then any other community.

“It’s no different than any other place I’ve been in,” said Barter.

“Yes, there is vandalism in this community, there are break-and-enters in this community, but I’ve been a police officer for 21 years and there’s been break and enters and vandalism in every community that I’ve policed.”

Sheshatshiu Innu School closed following Facebook post


A public posting on the Sheshatshiu flea market Facebook page earlier today (June 9) prompted police and school officials to close the Sheshatshiu Innu School this afternoon as a precaution.

Police say a man believed to be from Natuashish posted the following on the flea market page: “U guys are coming (to) hell with me ,,everyone of youse.”

The Labradorian has decided not to publish the man’s name, but his profile photo shows a man holding a lever action rifle, wearing sunglasses and a stocking cap.

The rifle appears to be a poor condition.

Cpl. Rick Mills said the RCMP do not consider the posting a direct threat towards the school, or anyone in Sheshatshiu, and no charges are expected

Mills described the message as “very generic.”

The decision to close the school was precautionary, and fears were likely heightened by recent gun violence in the country, including a shooting last week in Moncton, N.B., that left three RCMP officers dead.

The Labradorian has ben unable to contact anyone from school, and efforts to contact the person named in the Facebook profile have been unsuccessful.

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Quebec devotes $20M to mine railway feasibility study



MONTREAL — The Quebec government is committing up to $20 million towards a feasibility study on the construction of a railway line connecting the iron ore deposits in northern Quebec’s Labrador Trough region with the Port of Sept-Iles.

Funding for the study, to be conducted with private partners, was included in this week’s provincial budget.

The Liberal government says developing the mining potential of the region is a “cornerstone” of its relaunched Northern Quebec economic development plan.

The study will estimate costs and determine the best railway option, including increasing capacity on existing lines and the building a new one.

Ore producer Champion Iron Ltd. (TSX:CIA) welcomed Quebec’s move, saying political support will stimulate further investment in the region and create new jobs.

Chairman Michael O’Keeffe said Friday that the decision — coming amid uncertainty about the outlook for iron ore because of low global prices — will be seen as a “defining point” in the history of Quebec’s mining industry.

Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) put its own feasibility study on ice more than a year ago due to delays in mining projects because of low iron ore prices.

The country’s largest railway had been working with several mining companies and the Caisse de depot pension fund on a study into a transportation line and terminal handling facility, which analysts had estimated could cost $5 billion.

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Battle underway to control stray dogs on reserves




MONTREAL – It’s not everyday that a hockey rink is turned into an operating room.

That’s what happened on a First Nations reserve 12 hours north of Montreal, over a four-day stretch last month, where a team of veterinarians set up shop.

They spayed or neutered about 250 dogs as part of an effort to control the growing stray population in Opitciwan, Que.

It’s one of dozens of such campaigns that take place each year across Canada’s north, where wild dogs have long been a problem in remote communities, raising a host of health and safety concerns.

In the span of just over a month earlier this year, a 10-year-old girl and seven-year-old girl were mauled to death by dogs in separate incidents in Manitoba.

New initiatives including stricter bylaws, educational workshops, and sterilization campaigns are being employed to get the problem under control. Funding and resources, though, are often scarce.

“The overall goal is to control the stray population to make sure that there’s less unwanted and abandoned litters,” said Ewa Demianowicz, a manager with Humane Society International who was part of the group that travelled to Opitciwan at the reserve’s request.

“When you get there, there’s an overpopulation problem and there’s also a welfare problem. We see a lot of injured animals or animals that are obviously sick or have a wound, and there’s no veterinary clinic anywhere nearby.”

While dogs have historically played a key role in the lives of First Nations communities, often relied upon for hunting and protection, today many are struggling on a limited budget to cope with overpopulation and strays.

Culling, which was previously seen as a quick way to reduce an out-of-control stray-dog population, has become increasingly taboo.

A Manitoba petition against the practice last year gained support across the country. It called for more federal funding to assist in spay-and-neuter programs.

Some communities, like Rama Mnjikaning First Nation, 150 kilometres north of Toronto, have taken a different approach. It has seen positive results from putting tougher rules in place.

The reserve’s bylaw supervisor Al Sawyer said when he first started as an animal control program in 1996, there were big problems. Stronger regulations were necessary to make sure residents and visitors to the community were safe, he said.

“You can’t have dogs running around if you’re going to have people coming to your establishments running at large,” he said.

But tougher rules aren’t always sufficient to deal with the problem on reserves in more remote, northern communities, where there are often more dogs than residents and little access to veterinary care.

Dr. Jasmine Dhillon, a veterinarian and PhD candidate at the University of Saskatchewan, is involved in a new project aimed at coming up with solutions on a case-by-case basis. She meets with community members, including elders and the tribal council.

“In the end our goal is to have models, so that if you want create a new bylaw or education program or spay-neuter program, we can help with that,” she said.

Dhillon said studies show some communities average upwards of more than two dogs per household.

For the project in northern Quebec, HSI partnered with the Quebec organization Chiots Nordiques (Northern Puppies).

They set up a similar clinic last year for dogs and cats in Wemotaci, Que., a six-hour drive north from Montreal.

Demianowicz said it’s been difficult to keep up with demand, especially given the costs.

“It involves a lot of finances, to be able to bring a team up there and set up a clinic,” she said.

“These communities often don’t have the necessary resources to have these groups coming in.”

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Tracking collars could affect the health of Nunavik caribou


“Everyone using any type of device should make sure it’s not interfering with the welfare of the animal”


Laval University biologists put a collar on a captured caribou in Northern Quebec in February 2013. (PHOTO COURTESY OF CARIBOU UNGAVA)
Laval University biologists put a collar on a captured caribou in Northern Quebec in February 2013. (PHOTO COURTESY OF CARIBOU UNGAVA)

Tracking Arctic animals is no easy task — not even for the most skilled hunter.

For researchers based in southern universities and research facilities, it’s often radio transmitters embedded into collars, backpacks or ear tags that are used to study those animals’ habitat use, behaviour and survival.

But recent research by the Quebec program Caribou Ungava has found that collar weight may reduce survival among migratory caribou females — such as those found in Nunavik’s vulnerable George River and Leaf River herds.

“In the last two decades or so, most of the work on caribou has been done by satellite, because of their isolated location,” said Steeve Côté, a biology professor at Laval University and director of its Caribou Ungava research centre.

“Basically, the animal wears a collar that we can program to monitor its location every few minutes,” he said. “Some technology even allows us to reprogram from anywhere in the world.”

VHF collars, which have been used for several decades, emit radio pulses that allow operators to determine their location.

Satellite collars first emerged in the mid-1980s; the Quebec government was among the first to start using them in 1986 as part of a large caribou monitoring program in northern Quebec and Labrador.

Newer models include GPS-satellite-linked systems, which provide regular position updates accurate to about 30 feet.

But more advanced technology has generally required a heavier battery pack to function.

Researchers with Caribou Ungava studied the survival of female caribou with the George and Leaf Rivers herds fitted with 514-gram VHF collars, compared to the same type of caribou fitted with 1.63 kilogram (3.5 pound) satellite collars — more than three times heavier than the VHF technology.

Researchers looked at data gathered in the early 1990s, as well as in 2000.

During the study period, adult females from the George River herd equipped with the lighter VHF collars had a significantly higher survival rate than adult females equipped with heavier satellite collars.

Females with VHF collars had an average survival rate of 87 per cent while females with satellite collars had an average survival of 73 per cent.

The annual survival of adult females from the Leaf River herd was very high, although it did not differ depending on collar type.

“Everyone using any type of device should make sure it’s not interfering with the welfare of the animal,” Côté said.

“The problem is, you can only monitor the animals who are wearing collars, not the others.”

Previous studies have concluded that the acceptable weight of any sort of collar or tagging device is about three per cent of the animal’s body weight.

But Caribou Ungava’s findings are particularly important given the vulnerability of both George and Leaf River herds, whose populations have been on the decline over the last decade.

There are two messages that emerge from this, and other studies, Côté said.

“One thing it indicates that we should respect not having heavy collars — the technology is available,” he said.

Côté noted that since about 2000, caribou from the George River and Leaf River herds are no longer fitted with heavy collars. Modern satellite collars can weigh less than 500 grams.

“The second message is to reconsider all those studies we rely on from the 1980s and 1990s,” Côté said. “We still use this data a lot but we should be aware now that there might be impacts on survival.

“Everyone should look at the impacts of this data in their study. Otherwise, you’re not measuring the reality.”

Lighter tracking collars generally limit the amount of data researchers are able to gather, he said.

“But in the end, data is better if it’s unbiased,” he said. “And if we find an impact, we should be responsible for (negating) it.”

Radio transmitters: A heavy burden on migrating caribou? was presented to the ArcticNet conference in Halifax last winter.

The study, led by Laval University student Alexandre Rasiulis, falls under Caribou Ungava, a joint research program of the Quebec government, Laval University and the University of Sherbrooke.

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Natuashish mourning loss of Marcel Katshinak


Family and friends remember him as great hunter, outdoorsman

Marcel Katshinak, who was found deceased outside of Natuashish next to his snowmobile, was considered an avid outdoorsman and skilled hunter.

The community of Natuashish, no stranger to dealing with tragedy, is mourning the loss of great hunter and outdoorsman.

On May 16, 51-year-old Marcel Katshinak was reported missing, four days after leaving on snowmobile for a remote area known as Border Beacon. One day later, Katshinak was found deceased just six kilometres outside of Natuashish, his body lying beside his snowmobile. The RCMP is still investigating the cause of death.

For those who knew him, Katshinak will be remembered as a man of many talents, especially when it came to hunting and camping.

“There’s a lot of things I should have said when he was still alive,” said former Mushuau Innu First Nation Chief Simeon Tshakapesh. “He was a very nice man. He was my best friend, he was my cousin, he was my hunting partner, and he was my travel companion.”

Tshakapesh and Katshinak were friends for nearly 40 years, going back to when they were just small children. The ex-chief recalls how his friend and cousin could build things so easily with his hands, and what a great companion he was while out in the country.

“He was a very hard worker. He’s a good carpenter and a good wood carver,” said Tshakapesh.

“And he knows the land really well. Every time we go into the country, we always go together. We worked really good together as a team.

“Growing up we used to hang around each other and we used to hunt together. And we used to do a lot of bonding … we done everything together in the country.”

Tshakapesh moved from Natuashish to Sheshatshiu after resigning as chief in 2013. After hearing of Katshinak’s passing, he quickly flew into Natuashish to be with friends and family. Tshakapesh, like the rest of the Innu community, is still in shock at the sudden and unexpected death.

“I was devastated. I couldn’t believe it.”

“The mood is really, really, bad here. It’s so sad, everybody is so shocked.”

Marie Agathe Rich, like Tshakapesh, was a cousin and close friend of Katshinak. To Rich, Katshinak was a caring man who went out of his way to teach her about hunting and respecting the land.

“He was a nice person, caring person … taught me how to respect the animals, he would teach me everything,” said Rich, while fighting back tears.

“Ever since I knew Marcel … he would live with me in the country every year on the outpost. And when he hunted, when he kills the game, he showed me how to clean it. And he also showed me how to cook.”

Rich was actually with a group of people, camping in the country, when she heard the news that Katshinak was missing. To her, the news didn’t seem real because, only a couple of days earlier, she was sharing stories about Marcel with a friend.

“When we were out in the country, we talked about him, shared stories from him. We didn’t know this could happen only a couple days later, that’s when we heard he was missing,” recalled Rich.

“I was shocked. I don’t know what to do, or say, or think. I was very shocked, that I told myself ‘that’s not him.’”

As of May 21, Tshakapesh and Rich couldn’t say when a memorial service for their friend would be taking place. For now, all they can do is remain strong.

“We’re having a difficult time, but we’re hanging in there,” said Rich.


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