Aug. 25 Nunavut food protesters remain determined
“Our generation is educated, and I don’t think they’re just going to [stand] by and take it"
Iqaluit’s third food price protest was less lively than the first two held earlier this summer, despite good weather in Nunavut’s capital city on Aug. 25.
About 20 people showed up with signs and gathered outside across from the Northmart store, although the plan had been to move the protest closer to the elder’s qammaq so that elders could participate more easily.
The first food price protest in Iqaluit, held June 9 in the rain, attracted about 50 people who marched and cheered.The second Iqaluit protest, held June 21, National Aboriginal Day, brought about 40 people to the same Northmart location.
The 20 who did show up Aug. 25 were not deterred by the small number of protesters.
“We are doing this for people because it’s going to get more expensive,” said one of the organizers of the Feeding My Family Facebook group and website, Leetia Janes. “When our subsidy is done, we’re going to have to order our own food if we want to be subsidized.”
After October 2012, rice, pasta, canned food, condiments, coffee, tea, hygienic and infant care products will no longer be eligible for subsidies.
Any changes to Nutrition North will affect a lot of people, she said, “especially people on social assistance and elders and children.”
The majority of them cannot buy healthy food because it is too expensive, she said.
“People will notice a big difference in prices very soon,” Janes said.
But it’s doubtful that the protests in Nunavut will fizzle out, she said. The purpose of the protests remains raising awareness about the high cost of food among people who live in the territory and those who live in the rest of Canada.
“We don’t do this on our own, it’s not for our own benefit,” Janes said. “It is our practice [as Inuit], we make preparations for stuff that is coming and what we have to face,” adding that “it’s up to the people” to say whether the protests will continue.
Inuit are at the point of “getting intimidated easily,” and protesting can change that, she said.
“Our generation is educated and I don’t think they’re just going to [stand] by and take it,” Janes said.
However, people’s voices are being heard, and “even though they don’t show up here, they will be writing about it on Feeding My Family.”
Janes said that the Feeding My Family page is now a page of recorded history with people speaking out about more than just high food prices in the North.
“Even though we might sound like we’re not really organized or just bitching, we are not.”
Protests also took place in Grise Fiord and Qikiqtarjuaq, where Feeding My Family organizer Leesee Papatsie helped out, and in other communities across Nunavut.