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Northwest Territories elder fined for wasting caribou meat

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic
Officials said some of the meat wasted was suitable for food, including legs above the knee, rump, ribs and backstraps.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A Tlicho elder in Canada’s Northwest Territories has paid a $575 fine for wasting meat stemming from a recent incident where parts of 50 caribou were found near the community of Gameti, located in the territory's interior, about halfway between Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake.

Sixty-five-year-old Johnny Washie was fined for wasting meat in relation to the incident. Washie writes an occasional column in the Northern News Services, and he often speaks about Dene values in his writing.

David Wedawin, chief of the Gameti, said the first he’d heard of the charge was when CBC News contacted him on Tuesday, and he wanted to wait to hear Washie’s side of things before passing judgment.

“It is pretty new to me and and I should’ve got his point of view of how he approached it and how this things been deal with him for that. That’s what I want to hear first,” Wedawin said.

CBC News also tried to contact Washie on Tuesday via telephone, but was unable to do so.

Wedawin says that hunting is a way of life for people in Gameti and they don’t want to put any sanctions on hunters, but they want them to be responsible on the land. “It would’ve been great if we can put strong words to our people — just kill what you need and take what you need,” he said.

The territorial government says this is the only ticket for meat wasting that has been issued so far this year, but they are continuing to investigate as they believe a number of hunters may have been involved in the incident.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.