Facebook market for homemade, hunted foods flourishes in Nunavut, Nunavik
Cooks, hunters sell or swap everything from club sandwiches to clams
When you’re feeling like eating egg rolls or yearn for the taste of igunaq, a fermented walrus delicacy, you won’t have to look far if you live in Nunavut or Nunavik these days.
That’s thanks to numerous Facebook sell and swap groups which allow home-cookers and hunters to reach hungry clients for their foods.
People with a sweet tooth can find sweets like chocolate cupcakes with icing and chocolate chips inside, squares, donuts, cookies or layered jello cups on the Facebook page devoted to swap-and-sells in the western Nunavut town of Gjoa Haven — at prices usually ranging from 25 cents to $2.
In Clyde River, you see where to can pick up meals like pizza or club sandwiches for under $15 on Facebook.
And in Nunavik’s largest town of Kuujjuaq, you can sample sushi, as little as $10 for four rolls, or three-course Chinese meals, with soup, egg rolls and a stir-fry for under $20, which are advertised on the popular social media site.
Most of these food-preparing ventures are unregulated. They’re run by people who haven’t taken food safety and preparation courses or set up a registered home kitchen like Salma’s Kitchen, an Indian-style home restaurant in the western Nunavut hub of Cambridge Bay — which also promotes its offerings on Facebook.
But these cooks see their food dollars multiply by sharing their skills in the kitchen on Facebook.
On a Facebook group called “Inuit country food sell and swap,” you can find country foods to suit your taste — such as fresh tuktu (caribou), mimiq /rear end with 1’ 1/2’’ tunnuq (fat), shoulder blade with tunnuq, for $180, plus $50 shipping from Rankin Inlet.
Or you can decide to pay $20 per ptarmigan to another seller or buy fresh-caught narwhal in Clyde River — $70 for big bags, 11 kilograms or more, and $40 for smaller, three-kg bags.
Some sellers don’t say what the cost of their country foods for sale — such as freshly-dug-out igunaq — would be.
Another poster wants to trade two large ziplock containers of fresh frozen clams caught this past summer for caribou or narwhal.
Over in Kuujjuaq, on a local Kuujjuaq Facebook page, you can find smoked fish for sale, $40 for regular-sized fish and $60 for large fish.
Payments for purchases are usually made through electronic means.
The administrator of the Inuit country food sell and swap says this group only provides a place for buyers and sellers to meet, and notes all business transactions are between buyer and seller — and these are not his responsibility or that of the group.
Tooma Ryan Natsiq says if you don’t like his sell and swap group, then you can leave.
That’s after the use of social media sites to sell country foods came under criticism at the October meeting of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association in Cambridge Bay: Charlie Lyall of Taloyoak came out against the internet sale of country foods, saying these should be shared, not sold.
Under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, any Inuk in Nunavut is allowed to sell any country food that is legally harvested.
A provision in Article 5 of the NLCA says, “an Inuk shall have the right to dispose freely to any person any wildlife lawfully harvested. The right to dispose shall include the right to sell, barter, exchange and give, either inside or outside the Nunavut Settlement Area.”
But debate about the online selling of wildlife continued into the annual general meeting of the Kitikmeot Regional Wildlife Board, where James Panioyak, who chairs the Ekalututiak HTO, said he understood the practice appears to be permitted by the NLCA, but goes against “Inuit values” of sharing.
The heated discussion around the online sale of country foods prompted the Kivalliq Inuit Association’s president David Ningeongan to say Oct. 17 on the KIA website that “the Kivalliq Inuit Association does not have a stance nor has any comments at this time regarding the discussions about selling country food online.”
“The misunderstanding that it is the Kivalliq Inuit Association sparking the debate derives from sharing the same acronym, K.I.A.”
Rankin Inlet is also home to the Kivalliq Arctic Foods, which also sells its $250- “family packs” of food to Nunavut on Facebook.
These consist of one kilogram of hot smoked Arctic char, three 100-gram packs of candied Arctic char nuggets, two packs of one-pound frozen Arctic char, two kgs of dried Arctic char, called pipsi in the Kivalliq, one-pound of smoked muskox ribs and two kgs of maktaaq.
The Nunavut Development Corp.-owned company also sells maktaaq (muktaaq) family packs, with two kgs of beluga maktaaq, one kg of hot smoked Arctic char, three 100-gram packs of candied Arctic char nuggets, two one-lb packages of frozen Arctic char, two kgs of called pipsi, and two kgs of premium Arctic char fillets.
In Nunavik, Makivik Corp. maintains that beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement have the right to possess and dispose of their catch — although not sell it — to anyone they want to, Inuk or non-Inuk, although the Quebec government has in the past attempted to confiscate country foods carried south by non-Inuit.