Iqaluit Aug. 15 food protest draws small crowd, many honks of support
“There’s a lot of support from behind the scenes in what we’re doing"
A dozen residents in Iqaluit turned out with signs Aug. 15 to protest the high cost of food in Nunavut, more than a year after the first protests against high food prices and food insecurity in Nunavut and across the North organized by the Feeding My Family Facebook group.
As the protesters marched across the street from the Northmart store in Iqaluit at 5 p.m., they received boisterous support from passing motorists honking their horns.
“Hey hey! Ho ho! High prices got to go!” chanted Israel Mablick Sr. through a megaphone, accompanied by the sound of horns on the hot and sunny Iqaluit afternoon.
Mablick Sr. helped organize the protest on the Facebook group “Feeding My Family,” created by Leesee Papatsie. The group has since grown to almost 20,000 members.
A protest, held on National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2012, sparked discussion nation-wide about the high cost of food in the North.
The United Nations’ special rapporteur Olivier De Schutter later produced a damning report that said the government isn’t doing enough to give Canadians an acceptable amount of accessible food.
Now, Canada’s auditor general is looking into the Nutrition North Canada program, which some say has only increased the cost of eating well in the North. An audit will be done this year, and a report will likely be issued in the fall of 2014.
However, Mablick Sr. isn’t sure of what to make from the audit.
“We don’t know for sure what the outcome is going to be. Not sure what to expect other than what we already know,” Mablick Sr. said.
Although there were fewer people this year at the Aug. 15 protest than at last year’s June protest, Mablick Sr. thinks that “any supporters” are good.
“Sure there may be a little less supporters than last year, but we still got supporters, not just here, but all across Nunavut and Canada,” Mablick Sr. said.
Papatsie, holding a sign that read “Children got to bed hungry,” and a bright pink “Please HELP” poster dangling from her body said she’s “not worried” about less people this year.
“There’s a lot of support from behind the scenes in what we’re doing,” Papatsie said.
Beth Beattie, who works for the Nunavut Status of Women Council, lined up with the other protestors.
“I’m just here to support the whole problem of cost of food in Iqaluit,” Beattie said.
“If we don’t want kids going to the hospital and not being malnourished and not having problems and not maybe breaking and entering because they need something to sell in order to have food, we have to get these prices down,” Beattie said.
And Charlotte Borg, president of the Nunavut Status of Women Council, held a sign that read, “67 per cent of households in Nunavut are food insecure,” also shared the same sentiment.
“More than one in every two households children go to bed hungry. And they’re hungry on a consistent basis,” Borg said.
“That has effects elsewhere. They go to school hungry, they can’t make an effort to learn because they’re hungry, and the domino effect,” she said.
“I think this is outrageous really. I think something needs to be done about this.”