Charge that Canada's Mounted Police Killed Dogs In 1950s to Force Inuit Off Land Discounted

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It's almost an article of faith for some Inuit that their people were driven off the land and into towns in the 1950s by a systematic government and RCMP plan to kill the sled dogs they depended on.

But according to an interim RCMP inquiry report into the charges, released late Tuesday, it just isn't so.

"The preliminary findings of the review team is that there is no evidence of an organized mass slaughter of Inuit sled dogs by RCMP members in Nunavik and Nunavut between 1950 and 1970," the report said.
The report is based on 20,000 pages of historical documents and interviews with 40 retired RCMP members and Inuit special constables.

It casts logistical doubt on claims up to 20,000 dogs were shot. "There are no records to account for shipments of RCMP ammunition in the necessary quantities to the eastern Arctic to support a cull of that magnitude," it says.

The report also notes the Inuit were living through wrenching change at the time, their world veering from igloos and camp headmen to wood houses and government officials. Customs that worked on the land were dangerous in communities.

Joseph Ross and his wife worked as nurses in Ungava Bay in Arctic Quebec from 1956 to 1964. He told investigators the sled dogs could be dangerous.

"I made medical visits with a walking-stick club," he said. "My wife did not make medical visits to homes without another adult with her on account of the dog situation."
Academics and historians agree there is no hard evidence of a plot to immobilize the Inuit by killing their dogs.

But Audla said archival documents used in the RCMP report were written by RCMP officers, who wouldn't be inclined to write anything that made the force look bad.

"From Day 1, it's been filtered."

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