On the hunt for minerals: Amateur prospecting in Nunavut – by Lisa Gregoire (Nunatsiaq News – July 19, 2016)


“I think it’s possible to do both: we can keep our animals and we can do some mining out there”

John Tugak is a well-known local musician in Arviat, so he’s busy during the summer wedding season. But he asks friends and family to please not get married on the weekend. Tugak, a 40-year-old father of five, spends most of his free time on the land hunting not just for animals, but for minerals too.

“As a prospector, learning as I go along, it’s kinda confusing but it’s worth venturing into because you have families to support and hopefully you create jobs for your community and other communities,” said Tugak.

“I just hope to do something I like to do: reading, learning, going out on the land.” Tugak is one of more than 1,000 Nunavummiut who have taken prospecting courses since the Government of Nunavut first started offering them in 2001.

He first got interested in minerals when he and his grandfather were out hunting in the late 1990s and, unable to find caribou, they started looking at the ground to see what was there.

But it’s not easy being a prospector in Nunavut anymore, says Tugak, over the telephone from Arviat.

There are a lot of regulatory hoops to jump through. And while he agrees you need to protect the land and the animals, getting all the approvals in place to start hammering rocks is onerous and time-consuming.

“A few years ago, it was not like that. It was easier. But you can understand now why this is a long process, to protect what we have out there. It’s really good. But the process is very long,” Tugak said.

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