After nearly one year, Nunavut’s Feeding My Family movement thrives

“We have come together to work together to fight hunger”

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

This display of pricey juice in a Nunavut store was recently posted on the Feeding My Family Facebook page.


This display of pricey juice in a Nunavut store was recently posted on the Feeding My Family Facebook page.

Nearly one year and about 20,000 members later, the Feeding My Family Facebook group continues to thrive.

The Facebook page, which first went online May 29, 2012, now counts 19,826 members.

“We totally believed in and still believe in Northerners coming together to stand together as one and to say one thing, ‘high cost of food in the North,'” said Leesee Papatsie, who spearheaded and continues to promote the Feeding My Family movement on its Facebook page and website.

“Wow, it has only been a year, but, man, things happen, and I think the one thing that really sticks out, northern people took chances to share their hardship, that itself is scary and people did things outside of what they are used to, to stand together as one to show the world of the living conditions we live with up North.”

Papartsie said she had read how Inuit would come together and work as one to help each other out when starvation threatened.

“I know we are not in that stage, but there are some people in ‘hunger’ stage,” she said. “I know we have come together to work together to fight ‘hunger.’ There are so many people who gave their hearts out to help northerners with hunger, like ‘literally’ to the point of exhaustion and throwing their arms up in the air. And there are people who totally support what this site stands for.”

While no protests, similar to those held last year, are now scheduled, Papatsie said members, who continue to post photos and comments on the Facebook page, can always suggest actions.

Her message recently has been to encourage members to empower themselves through education, because the more educated people are, the less hungry they are: A Statistics Canada study on food insecurity in Canada shows the link between education and food insecurity: the prevalence of food insecurity is twice as high in households where no one in the household has graduated from high school, compared with households where post-secondary graduation is the highest level of education achieved in the household.

Other objectives include:

• unifying people across the North to share one voice;

• encouraging government policy-makers and retailers to find better ways to lower the cost of food (“Nutrition North Canada [NNC] is not doing enough”);

• encouraging new food suppliers to operate in the North in order to increase competition and lower prices;

• encouraging improvements in food quality through better inventory control, such as moving inedible and rotting food from store shelves, using proper food shipping and handling, and reducing transit time for perishable foods;

• encouraging establishment of more food banks; and,

• working with government and other non-governmental organizations to improve the overall quality of life for Northerners.

Papatsie will be among those at meeting this month and next month in Iqaluit where Nunavut Food Security Coalition and its Nunavut-based partners will review and confirm the Nunavut Food Security Strategy and action plans.

The coalition, which brings government, Inuit organizations, the private sector and NGOs together to talk about how to improve food security in Nunavut communities, is now working on the final strategy and an action plan.

Actions include increasing support for harvesters, improving public understanding of nutrition, providing budgeting and food preparation skills, ensuring greater access to local food sources, and making sure there’s support for community food programs, such as breakfast programs.

The Department of Family Services is now responsible for the coalition.

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