Qikiqtani Inuit youth, organizations explore future of food in Nunavut
Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corp. hosts Niriqatigiit food sovereignty roundtable
Local youth, hunters and trappers associations and small businesses from the Qikiqtani region discussed the future of food in the territory this week.
Nunavummiut from 13 communities participated in the Niriqatigiit food sovereignty roundtable in Iqaluit, examining the challenges involved in accessing food in the High Arctic, as well as possible solutions.
The Qikiqtani region spans Nunavut’s most northerly regions, including communities such as Resolute Bay, Grise Fiord, Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay. The event ran Tuesday to Thursday and was hosted by the Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corp.
Sheldon Nimchuk, the director for project development and partnerships at the corporation, said participants discussed the need for more and better local infrastructure, building community capacity through training, and making use of new technologies such as freezers and processing facilities.
“From the perspective of traditional harvesting and sharing with the communities, it became apparent and is relatively well known that there’s a lack of infrastructure to support the storage and distribution of country food,” Nimchuk said.
“That is particularly related to community freezers and the conditions that many of the freezers in the communities find themselves in: not having a useful life going forward … and the cost of maintenance.”
Those attending also brainstormed potential solutions and heard from local organizations and small businesses that are already addressing food sovereignty. One example that stood out for Nimchuk is Sedna’s Lair, an Iqaluit-based food business.
“[Sedna’s Lair] is finding opportunities to use local harvests and channelling fair wages to the hunters to help support their business, and having an opportunity to think outside the box and to look at producing small-scale canning and bottling their own particular recipes,” he said.
“I think it was a very insightful and a very practical look at small business opportunities and value-added opportunities that provide living wages to the harvesters.”
While the roundtable came to a close Sept. 1, Nimchuk said Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corp. is working now on surveying the needs of every community in the region and looking into funding small-scale canning and bottling companies that can work with local businesses to improve the storage and use of food in Qikiqtani communities.