Pangnirtung set to launch Nunavut country food market
Hamlet hopes to offer healthier options at PangFresh
Fresh, affordable food is not always easy to find in Pangnirtung, and the hamlet hopes to change that by opening up the community’s first country food market, Aug. 16.
“PangFresh,” as the hamlet calls it, is a pilot project that offers an opportunity for hunters, harvesters and fishermen to sell their catch — and open up a greater variety of healthy food options for the community at large, says Jenna Kilabuk, coordinator of the inaugural event.
“We have two grocery stores. They’re both very expensive and the food is not always fresh,” Kilabuk told Nunatsiaq News. “Community members always tell us they can barely afford to buy groceries.”
Country food is the favoured choice for most of the community, she said. Hunters and trappers commonly share their catch, but a market could open the door to a greater variety of choices in a single location.
PangFresh offers a chance for up to 50 sellers, who must be Nunavut beneficiaries, to offer any kind of produce drawn from territorial land and waters.
“It can only be country food — for example seal, fish, whale, caribou stew. We’re expecting berries too, but mostly meat,” she said. “We’re also inviting other community members, especially Qikiqtarjuak and Iqaluit,” the hamlet’s closest neighbours.
Pangnirtung will host the food market at the community’s harbour. Timing promises to be perfect, as the event will coincide with the completion of a second floating dock, and the start of clamming season.
The pilot project will gauge success of a country food market on many levels.
Spaces are free of charge, by advance reservation. The first goal is to help support hunters and traditional harvesters, who would use proceeds of sales to support their activities and provide income.
“The prices are totally up to them,” Kilabuk said.
A second goal is to provide country food for residents who might not otherwise have access to it, said Kendra Imrie, economic development officer for the hamlet.
That would include “families that might no longer have a hunter in the family, or elders, or people that are perhaps on social assistance and may not be able to go hunting,” Imrie said.
Such food might not necessarily be cheaper than items shipped up to the hamlet’s two options for groceries, the Northern Store and the Co-op, but “it definitely is a healthier option,” Imrie said.
Another broad purpose is to help keep Inuit cultural traditions alive.
“Our community doesn’t want to lose that,” she said.
PangFresh, Pangnirtung’s inaugural country food market, takes place Aug. 16 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Nunavut beneficiaries everywhere can reserve a place to sell country food, and all are welcome. Contact the Pangnirtung hamlet office for more information.