Food Crisis in Northern Canada Declared Violation of Human Rights by U.N., Canadian Government Continues to Do Absolutely Nothing But Whine “Nu-Uhhhhhhh!”
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According to the Facebook group Feeding My Family, $1.99 for an avocado is progress.
The issue of food insecurity in Canada’s far North was brought to public attention by the United Nations, who issued a scathing report (PDF) that declared Canada in violation of international human rights law, much to the consternation of the PR-conscious conservative government. The government held up its Nutrition North Canada program as a shining example of effective government action to protect citizens, claiming cost reductions of 11-22 percent on healthy food.
It’s too bad it seems none of its citizens agree.
In the scant week since its creation, Feeding My Family has gone from a private group with four members to a very public one, boasting 18,046 members and rising fast. The entire population of Nunavut is only 29,474 according to the 2006 census, although it is roughly the size of Western Europe. The group inspired a Nunavut-wide demonstration last Saturday, and members are organizing to make regular demonstrations, along the lines of Quebec’s Casserole Nights.
Canadian food insecurity is also a front-page issue on social news site Reddit at the moment, where users are debating the reported prices.
Nunavut has zero commercial agriculture, due to the extreme climate, and a significant proportion of the population gets its food wild off the land or the ocean. Everything else has to be shipped in, and when there are no year-round roads (and there are no year-round roads into Nunavut) that means air freight, with a fuel surcharge, and in the summer it means boats. It never means inexpensive.
“The amazingly high penetration of Facebook into the North…. and the current climate of social unrest worldwide… why would we think the Inuit of Nunavut would not take the step of launching such a group?” posed social media pro George Lessard of Yellowknife, NWT, to the Daily Dot. “In the four years I lived in Arviat Nunavut, I don’t think I ever came home from the grocery store without a single bag being under $100.”
Feeding My Family’s group page uses photos and personal testimony to document alleged price-gouging: a case of bottled water ($104.99), green peppers ($10.25 per pound), red peppers ($16 per pound), a single can of 7 Up ($5.25). Over $70 for a three pound beef tenderloin. $15 for a bottle of Snapple; $11 for a single serving juice box.
Read the rest of the article here
Read the U.N. document here (.pdf)