Iqaluit woman amasses food donations through TikTok account

Kyra Flaherty says followers were inspired to donate after she highlighted the high cost of food in Nunavut

Iqaluit’s Kyra Flaherty uses her TikTok account @arcticmakeup to raise awareness about high grocery prices in the North and teach her 25,000 followers about Inuit culture and social issues affecting Nunavummiut. (Photo courtesy of Kyra Flaherty)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Kyra Flaherty has harnessed the power of TikTok to show her nearly 25,000 followers how much food costs in Nunavut.

And her followers are listening. Managing her online platform now comes with the task of distributing the hundreds of boxes of food, toiletries and other items her followers have sent to her Iqaluit mailbox in an effort to help.

“During the summer it was on average 40 to 50 boxes per week,” said the nursing student and mother of three. “It’s amazing, I really wasn’t expecting it.”

With her husband’s help, the mailed items get re-packaged and distributed to families around town.

Now that she’s busy in her first year of nursing school at Nunavut Arctic College, Flaherty still receives about 10 boxes per week and has been recommending followers donate or volunteer at food banks if they want to help.

Flaherty said she originally created her account when her daughters told her about the app. She started by posting videos about her culture and life in Nunavut’s capital.

She also has used it to answer questions on topics like the Nutrition North program, the northern living allowance and rent prices.

When a follower left a comment asking her to show grocery prices in stores near her, Flaherty’s content started getting hundreds of thousands of views.

“The desire to learn more and hear the truth from someone from Nunavut was a big one for people,” she said.

Since May, Flaherty has posted over a dozen videos showcasing unaffordable food and home items in Iqaluit and in other communities.

By gathering photos from friends and followers across Nunavut, she’s been able to show the spectrum of the problem, including $67 diapers in Rankin Inlet.

The prices in Grise Fiord, the northernmost community in the territory, surprised even herself, Flaherty said.

Her video shows a dozen eggs selling for $11, saltine crackers going for $18, and honey priced at $30.

“That one was very shocking to me, it’s very eye-opening,” she said.

On top of teaching people about Inuit culture, answering questions on the North, and shutting down stereotypes, Flaherty said creating videos gives her the chance to learn as well.

“People will ask me [questions] and I won’t be entirely sure myself, so I’ll go ask people who know the answer or research it,” said Flaherty.

For example, when a follower asked about the subsidies the federal government provides through the Nutrition North program, Flaherty got the information to explain how the funding doesn’t always appear to get to the consumer.

On Tuesday, Flaherty launched her next project, an online fundraiserto buy winter boots for community members.

“I actually had a dream about it last night,” she said with a laugh.

“When I woke up, I figured that’s a really good idea, and I think my followers on TikTok, and friends in Iqaluit would be able to help me with that.”

Between her full-time studies, being a mother, creating Nunavut and makeup-related content on TikTok, and distributing the food and care packages, Flaherty said she has about one per cent “me time” left at the end of the day.

But “my mind’s been wrapped around how I can help the community for a long time now,” she said.

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Aasi on

    Awesome job! Our former premier and MLA’s could learn a thing or two from you about how to achieve real change.

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  2. Posted by Make a better Tiktok on

    How bout make a TikTok showing people how to spend their money wisely and stretch their dollars? Instead of buying a bunch of expensive processed foods like Hungry Man, Chunky Soups and Pizza, teach people how to cook rice and use frozen veggies. Bringing in food donations doesn’t do any of that, it just makes people expect more handouts.

    There is already too many handouts in the north. This needs to be a bottom-up approach rather than looking to the top for help. And don’t even get me started about the amount of money being spent on pop and cigarettes!

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    • Posted by hermann kliest on

      There is no money on healthy foods, but they are categories as healthy foods so subsidies can all go to profits. Process food is cheaper, more profitable, do you think retailers are going to bend over backwards or give a hoot about our health? No siree, it’s all about the bottom line at the end of their fiscal year, bottom line determines bonus amount….that’s all it matters; nothing more nothing less…Thank you tik toker in Iqaluit.

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    • Posted by Unik on

      While I generally agree on the premise of your comment. Her audience is likely people from the south wanting to help. Not people here needing tips to stretch their dollar.

      Regardless, she’s doing a great thing that’s helping people. It’s not going to fix the problem outright, but it’s something, and comments like this where you put it on her to somehow fix such a big problem is not very helpful.

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    • Posted by BetterTikTok on

      Good points on spending wisely and too many handouts but if you have I dollar for your basic needs and they cost 10 bucks, it won’t to be fixed. Thank you Kyra.

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      • Posted by boris pasternak on

        Sure there s handouts, in all the handouts by the Feds are not to Canadians but to the third world countries in million if not billions. Who if given a chance or means they would do their best to destabilize or to wreck our country, now tell me about handouts. I would imagine Canada is funding many terrorist groups indirectly around the globe. Handouts my big fat Eskimo ass…give me a break.

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    • Posted by Kyra on

      Please feel free to make a tiktok and do exactly that! 🙂

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  3. Posted by Uvanga on

    Amazing young Inuk lady trying to make a change to ensure that the people below the poverty line are fed as well as their children. This is a great start! You are a great example for your peers! Keep doing what you are doing. Don’t ever give in to the pessimests.. you are an inspiration!

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  4. Posted by Jamie audlakiak on

    If there were handouts where are they, we want some too!! And for the people who’s complaining about food, if there’s handouts how come they don’t give out inuksiutiit food for free, for example, tuktuk with tunnuk usually cost 300to 500 , most of us can’t afford it

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    • Posted by uvanga on

      Maybe get a job, learn hunting skills so you can provide for yourself and your family with some tutuk.

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  5. Posted by Great response! on

    Ilaapivut ikajurtuk amisunit!
    Awesome!!
    How many other people can get up to 25,000 followers? Not many I’m telling you so keep it up and don’t let any negatives take away the 1% left of you.

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