Of all the places hunger resides, there is no question that northern provinces like Nunavut suffer greatest. Nunavut’s household food security rate is eight times higher than the rest of Canada, and more than 60% of children don’t have enough food to eat every night.
So how did things get so bad in the North? The current crisis isn’t the result of a single incident or policy, but a sequence of devastating disruptions. The arrival of European explorers was the first domino, followed by decades of forced relocation and repeated attempts at cultural suppression through programs like residential schools. In addition to breaking the inter-generational bonds that are so important for maintaining language and culture, these policies damaged traditional knowledge of how to safely collect food in Arctic climates. As a result, many Inuit communities have been forced to depend on Western food systems like grocery stores.
But shopping at a grocery store means something very different in Nunavut compared to southern provinces. Due to the high cost of shipping food so far north, Nunavut grocery stores often charge exorbitant fees for basic dietary staples. For example, something as simple as a jug of orange juice can cost upwards of $25. Despite the magnitude of these challenges, MAZON is stepping up to help.
QAJURTURVIK COMMUNITY FOOD CENTRE (Iqaluit, NU)
The QCFC aims to relieve these pains not just through free meals, but through community. They're a space for people to gather to cook and eat together through community kitchen programs, where people learn new recipes and food skills while getting to know one another. While their community programs have been suspended through COVID-19, the community they've built hasn't gone anywhere - and their meals are as fresh, healthy and tasty as ever!