NEWS: Iqaluit November 17, 2010 - 3:33 pm

One-day country food cornucopia coming to Iqaluit

“It’s sort of a northern version of a farmer’s market”

GABRIEL ZARATE

It’s been talked about for years, but now it’s going to happen.

The first country food market in years is to take place outside Inuksuk High School on the day of the pre-Christmas craft fair on Nov. 27.

“Definitely seal and char [will be available] and I’m working on caribou and maktaaq and possibly also clams and ptarmigan,” said Willie Hyndman, the market’s organizer.

By Nov. 15, eight Inuit hunters had confirmed they would be selling their catch outside the high school in tents that Project Nunavut has purchased for the occasion.

Based on the amount of table space available, up to 16 vendors could potentially sell country food to the public.

Hyndman explained that since the harvesters will sell directly to the consumer, it won’t come under the rules about commercial harvests that would apply if they were selling to a supplier.

That means foods like seal — which does not have a commercial quota — will be available. It’s been talked about for years, but now it’s going to happen.

“It’s sort of a northern version of a farmers’ market,” he said.

With seal in season in the Iqaluit region this time of year, Hyndman said he hopes to offer a kind of tasting of the different seals from different parts of Nunavut.

“I’d like to present them side by side for a tasting to compare the different flavours,” he said.

Hyndman said he’s been told that Iqaluit-area seals are particularly tasty because they dive into deep waters to feed.

Seals from Qikiqtarjuaq and Clyde River dine almost exclusively on turbot, which affects their taste.

“There’s definitely a connoisseur culture among the hunters so there’s some great stories about where it comes from and what it eats,” he said.

Other possible fare includes char from Repulse Bay and caribou from Rankin Inlet.

Hyndman said he’s received the blessing of Iqaluit’s Amarok Hunters and Trappers Organization, but no-one at the HTA office picked up the phone or returned Nunatsiaq News requests for comment.

And several calls to HTOs in other Nunavut communities revealed little knowledge of the project, in part because some are occupied with elections to their boards.

“We just pass on that [Hyndman’s] information to the hunters,” said one HTO manager.

A former staffer with the Department of Economic Development and Transportation, Hyndman knew that ED&T was willing to support a country food market and just awaited someone to take that initiative.

ED+T covered the cost of tents and tables, so hunters selling meat at the market get their tables free of charge.