|A VERY SAD EVENT.....|
The memory of the dog slaughter still haunts Henry Onalik Boaz
"They never asked my permission, and didn’t provide an explanation either," says Henry Onalik Boaz of the RCMP officers who shot his dogs.
Henry Onalik Boaz came to Iqaluit around 1954 from the Kimmirut and Tudjaat regions where he grew up. In the beginning, he would go out dog teaming with his father and older brother, who both had their own dog teams. He started raising his own dog team around 1957.
Boaz grew up in a time when dogs were the only means of travel. They carried the food and hunting supplies needed to survive. The dogs did not only work during the winter, they also worked during the summer. They were companions and served as protectors.
He had to more than a month out on the land caribou hunting, because the caribou were so far away. The dogs carried the food they needed to live on, such as seal meat, caribou and fish. "They were very useful in those days, they carried everything," Boaz says.
But that soon changed.
"They never asked my permission, and didn’t provide an explanation either. Maybe they were just stupid. Maybe it was the government who directed the RCMP, I don’t know. But they’re the ones who shot our dogs," Boaz says.
"There was an old lady who was terrified because the RCMP was trying to kill a dog under her house, and they actually killed that dog that was under there."
"I was so furious and angry when I heard that an old lady was scared. He was firing his gun under her house and it absolutely terrified the poor woman," he says.
"I was angry, I mean really angry and hurt. My very good dog, the lead dog of my team was shot." Boaz almost seems to growl at the memory of losing his favourite dog. The dogs that could go for long distances were favoured.
"They didn’t finish off my dogs, but I did lose some. They would be walking around and shooting any loose dog," he says.
Officers also shot dogs that were tied up. Boaz confronted an officer and tried to stop him. That’s when the officer went to his lead dog, which was tied up, and shot it.
Boaz told the officer he had a rifle. He admits now that he regrets saying that, but doesn’t regret the anger he felt.
Dog teams are usually made up of seven dogs, although some have only four or five dogs, even when travelling a long distance. Boaz says he used to have a lot more dogs, but some of them were shot by the RCMP.
He has never received an apology or any compensation for his loss. "I would accept an apology. I know I don’t have that much longer to live," he says.
When asked about what amount would be appropriate or acceptable, he says he cannot put a price on it.