Every year around Christmas, the hamlet of Cambridge Bay in Nunavut bans the sale of alcohol, and every year the crime rate in the community takes a nose dive.
This year, when the local council lifted the ban shortly after New Year’s Day, alcohol began flowing back into Cambridge Bay with reports of up to 4,000 pounds’ worth of liquor arriving by plane into the community of 1,800 in a single day.
This month, police saw the first violent death in the community in more than a year, charging a 22-year-old with second-degree murder in the death of a 19-year-old woman. It was a crime police say was fuelled by alcohol and whose violence has reignited discussion around whether Cambridge Bay, like most other communities in the territory, should permanently ban or restrict the sale of alcohol.
“If it wasn’t for alcohol, two scouts and a whistle” would be enough to police the hamlet, RCMP Sergeant Charlie Gauthier told the Nunatsiaq News.