Nunavik health officials promote healthy eating, community cooking
March 28 is Country Food Day in Nunavik
The new community kitchen in Kuujjuaq has been buzzing since it first opened last month.
Every Monday and Wednesday evening, a group gathers in the kitchen at Jaanimmarik high school to cook up a warm meal together from scratch.
Last week, the group made a caribou stir fry in orange sauce; tonight, spaghetti sauce with ground caribou is on the menu, along with home-made Caesar salad, buns and blueberry pie.
“It’s really a mix of traditional and modern,” said coordinator Samantha Poirier.
In some ways she’s also talking about the project’s participants — children as young as 10 years old have turned up to cook, along with teenagers and elders.
“We ask that they all participate in the process,” she said. “And at the end of the evening, we all sit down and eat together.”
Kuujjuaq’s new community kitchen is one of many projects across the region that’s highlighted this March as part of Nutrition Month.
Under the slogan “Simply Cook and Enjoy,” the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services is helping communities promote healthy eating and the pleasure of cooking.
Targeting the growing number of community and collective kitchens across the region, the health board is offering a couple of kitchen workshops, including one in Quaqtaq March 18 and March 19.
The goal is to promote their benefits and the “how-to,” said the health board, for communities interested in launching their own kitchens.
“One very important element is country food, which is vital and at the heart of Nunavimmiut lifestyle,” said a NRBHSS new release. “It helps maintain physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual health.”
Trina Fournier thinks so. As part of her job as the community living and wellness worker at Inuulitisivik health centre in Puvirnituq, Fournier helps organize regular country food feasts in the community, including a monthly event for elders.
To wind down Nutrition Month, Nunavik health officials are calling March 28 Country Food Day.
Fournier and her colleagues at Puvirnituq’s family house will put on a country food feast, complete with different stations for each food, like char, caribou and ptarmigan.
At each one, an elder or hunter from the community will be there to show people how to clean and skin the animal, how to butcher it before eating and the health benefits each food provides.
“It’s really for everyone,” Fournier said. “I can say that even the youth are very respectful and involved and like to eat country food.”
On March 28 “everyone is invited to celebrate by having country food with family and friends,” said Dr. Françoise Bouchard, acting director of Nunavik’s public health department.
Check your hamlet offices to see if feasts are being held in your own community.