Some hunters and trappers impacted by flooding this year may be missing out on much-needed compensation, Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler says.
Semmler says the requirement that hunters and trappers make 20 per cent of their annual income from hunting and trapping to be eligible for compensation from the Hunters and Trappers’ Disaster Compensation Program, means many miss out.
She says many people who have hunting cabins work other jobs where they make most of their income. But this does not mean they have been impacted any less by the flooding.
“Hunting and trapping and harvesting is a way of life,” she says. “These are skills that take many years to refine, and it costs money to practice.”
“Many harvesters in my region may not generate 20 percent of their annual income through harvesting and trapping, but that does not make their pursuit of traditional skills any less important,” she added.
Water levels in Great Slave Lake have reached historic highs this year, with water levels in most of the territory reaching or coming close to historic highs as well.
Some residents in Hay River were issued evacuation orders after flooding risk reached dangerous levels back in May.
Those high water levels flooded many hunter’s cabins, with water levels rising above doorways and freezing as winter rolled in, in some places.
Arthur Beck, a trapper with a cabin along the Taltson River, shared photos of a trapper cabin on shore near the river, with water levels that had risen several feet above the doorways of the cabin and frozen.
“All the Taltson River trappers trapping equipment is under ice right now. All the beavers lodge and muskrat home have been flooded, they are drowned. No place to go. So sad, my friends. We need help please,” he posted on Facebook.
Environment and Natural Resources Minister Shane Thompson said his department is reviewing the community harvest support program and the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur Program and will review the hunters and trappers’ disaster compensation guideline, once the other reviews are complete.
The income percentage requirement would be one of the things looked at.
Semmler also asked whether funding would be made available in the spring when the inter melts are likely to see more flooding.
“This year is a new initiative, one-time assistance to provide compensation to people who have had unprecedented damage to property and equipment,” said Thompson in response. “However, in saying that, when flooding situations occur in the springtime, we will look at it on a case-by-case basis.”
Around $40,000 had been made available to compensate hunters and trappers impacted by flooding so far.