Nunavut anti-poverty secretariat program offers country food subsidy
“This program is a bit of an intervention to offset the costs of people’s access to country food”
Direct harvesting subsidies are now available from the Country Food Distribution Program to stock community freezers and provide country food for those who are unable to gain access to it, the director of the Nunavut Anti-Poverty Secretariat Ed McKenna said.
It will provide up to $10,000 per community each year. The total value of the program is $980,000 annually.
This comes after the Department of Environment released a report this spring — see document embedded below — that analyzed the availability of muskox and caribou populations.
The report recommended that some muskox herds could be used for community harvests, but also found that not enough is known about the health of caribou herds.
“We all know that people are saying there are fewer and fewer caribou,” McKenna said.
The Department of Environment provided the report to the secretariat to provide the best information available, he said.
There are muskox populations in the Kitikmeot that could be harvested for communities, the report said.
It also cited populations near Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Kugaaruk, Taloyaok, Bathurst Inlet and Umingmaktok.
However, a key recommendation from the report was to diversify country food sources.
“Nunavut has a rich and actually quite diverse wildlife and rather than focusing on species that are already heavily used for subsistence by local hunters, a better option may be to diversify food sources for communities,” the report stated, mentioning moose populations that could be harvested from some parts of the Kitikmeot and Kivalliq.
Also, the report suggested more harvesting of snow geese, ptarmigan, Arctic hare and ground squirrel.
“They’re saying this in contrast to the situation of caribou,” McKenna said.
If a community organization wanted to, they could apply to any of the regional offices or inquire about the subsidy at their municipalities to harvest the animals, and then bring them back afterward to stock the community freezer.
The majority of the program’s funds, however, will go towards maintaining community freezers or replacing them. “The infrastructure is old,” McKenna said.
And hunting is increasingly expensive.
“This program is a bit of an intervention to offset the costs of people’s access to country food,” he said.
Meanwhile, more data must be collected about wildlife populations in Nunavut, McKenna said.
The report recommended an updated assessment and regular monitoring of muskox after the program is implemented.
“There is a lot of local knowledge about the availability of different wildlife,” he said, adding “we also need to undertake scientific research.”
If successful, the program will result in more access to country food.
“That’s the whole point of it,” McKenna said.