Nunavut’s weed culture

Check this out: 3 charged in Igloolik marijuana bust.

Most southern Canadians don’t likely appreciate the deep affection with which numerous Nunavut residents regard the cannabis sativa plant and its various derivative products, so much so that dope-smoking now persists as an integral feature of Inuit culture in most communities.

By “culture,” I mean that which people actually do — not what people claim to do. Nunavut’s underground pot culture is held in place by an unspoken, informal and mostly unorganized system of denial, secrecy and mental compartmentalization, not to mention the intimidating anti-rat ethic of the criminal underclass.

One in a while, the RCMP manages to break through and make a token arrest, as is evidenced in this CBC North news story. In the comments that follow, you’ll find the usual mix of defamation, contempt of court and malignant illiteracy. But you’ll also find an informed discussion of the Arctic contraband business and its high-cost price structure.

What’s amusing about all this is that should occur in Igloolik, the erstwhile home of Rev. Ed deVries, Nunavut’s marijuana evangelist.

In candid remarks quoted in 2006 within the newspaper that I edit, Rev. Eddy held nothing back.

Ed deVries said he’s acquired more than 600 works of art from Igloolik carvers, in exchange for cash, and pot.

“A lot of them are potheads. So they come to me, they trade pot and money, and I get their carvings,” he said.

As a bonus, deVries gives us a rare glimpse into the seamy side of Nunavut’s hallowed arts and crafts business, which at its lower levels lives right next door to the dope trade.

But I digress. Igloolik’s mayor, then Paul Quassa, soon issued this gallant defence of his maligned community’s honour:

“Pothead” comments irk Igloolik mayor

Right. Except the 2004 Qannuipita health survey of Nunavik communities showed that 60 per cent of adults in that region admitted to being pot users. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, that number jumps to 80 and 90 per cent. The cultural and social profile of Igloolik, like just about every other community in the Baffin region, is virtually identical to Nunavik’s. So it’s not unreasonable to assume that dope habits are also likely the same.

Maybe Rev. Eddie exaggerated just a wee bit more than he should have. But his big mistake was being honest about what he had every reason to believe was true.

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One Response to Nunavut’s weed culture

  1. j-no says:

    Im am heading up there for work. is it as bad as they say for weed up there?

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