NEWS: Nunavut June 11, 2012 - 10:02 am

Clyde River residents add their voices to cost-of-food protest

"It's unbelievable how high our prices are"


When protesters came out June 9 in Iqaluit, Arctic Bay, Grise Fiord, Pond Inlet, Pangnirtung, Igloolik, Cambridge Bay and at Parliament Hill in Ottawa to vent their rage over high costs and low incomes in Nunavut, a small but passionate group staged a peaceful protest outside the Northern store in Clyde River.

They’re part of a swelling movement in Nunavut led by regular people who can no longer abide the territory’s unbearable cost of living.

More than 17,000 of them have joined a Facebook group called Feeding My Family.

In Clyde River, a group of about 25 carried signs and stood quietly outside the Northern store, stopping to talk with customers and passersby about the high cost of food and what it means for local families.

“It’s unbelievable how high our prices are,” said one of the protesters.  “You can go on Facebook and see the pictures, $104 for a case of bottled water, $50 for a bag of frozen chicken.  This is beyond shipping costs.”

Rebecca Hainnu held a sign her daughter made, it said, “apple juice, $3.89, I wish I could have some.” 

“She made it herself,” Hainnu said. “She’s used to me saying ‘no’ to her when she asks for juice, because it is too expensive.”

Pop is cheaper than juice, and water in Clyde River.

Access to healthy foods also tops the biggest concerns for the community’s protesters.

“Our store is full of junk food, and almost all of it is processed foods.  We need more healthy food and produce.  We should have more options, we’re tired of the same old thing,” said another protester.

Jakob Gearheard, executive director of the Ilisaqsivik Society in Clyde River, was among the protesters.

“Nutrition North was supposed to bring improvements to the availability of healthy foods in Nunavut. But we see the same unhealthy food being displayed and sold in our store.  Much more than half the store is dedicated to unhealthy food.  At Ilisaqsivik we still have to buy food for our nutrition programs from the South. We have no choice, and it costs us more.  For our organization, nothing has changed, except the price has increased. The bottom line is that healthy food is less accessible and more expensive than before.  We need to raise awareness about that,” he said.

No one from the Northern store in Clyde River came out to talk with the protesters.

“[The Northern Store] knows we have no choice,” said one of the protesters. “They can just do what they want and we have no option, but we’re getting tired of [the high prices] and we want them to start listening.”

with files from Shari Gearheard in Clyde River