In Nunavut’s most northerly community, people protest Aug. 25 against high food costs
“We were there to make a point”
Fair food prices for all Canadians: that’s the message Grise Fiord residents conveyed during their second food price protest, held Aug. 25.
About 12 protesters showed up to the Grise Fiord airport with signs bearing slogans such as: “High Arctic: high food costs, high freight costs, high travel costs: paying the price for Canadian sovereignty,” and “Canada’s Arctic flagpoles need affordable food.”
The point of the peaceful protest at the airport was to draw attention to all of the issues surrounding high transportation costs, Grise Fiord’s Larry Audlaluk said.
“The protests going on in Nunavut are important issues that go right through the core of everything,” he said, adding that “we were there to make a point.”
There was a previous protest in July outside the local store, but not as many people in the community of 161 showed up.
However, at that protest – the first one for Grise Fiord, people were even more vocal, Audlaluk said.
Freight is expensive in the High Arctic, especially in Grise Fiord where people have to pay the freight from Resolute Bay.
For a can of pop, $5.25 is “outrageous,” Audlaluk said.
Milk and eggs are necessities, and people in the North want fair prices for these items.
Audlaluk has written letters and talked to members of Parliament.
“[But] they can only do so much,” he said.
Nunavummiut still deserve better, Audlaluk said.
“We’re a people, we are tax-paying Canadians and we are proud to be tax-paying Canadians, and we expect to be treated fairly,” he said.
The change from the Food Mail program to Nutrition North should be contested because “Nutrition North, in many ways, is, some people say, a joke,” he said.
“It’s become so complicated,” he said.
People have been ignored for too long in the Arctic, said Audlaluk, who was relocated to the High Arctic with his family as a young child.
When he was a teen, he remembers hearing about how important the North is to Canada “to become our own people with education and running things.”
“You become quite disillusioned and angry,” he said.
The unfairness to small places is something politicians don’t want to talk about in Parliament, Audlaluk said.
Still, Audlaluk said he hopes there will be more food price protests in Grise Fiord and throughout the territory.
A food protest, organized by the Feeding My Family group, also took place Aug. 25 in Iqaluit.