Food is a human right. Poverty and food insecurity are increasing in Iqaluit, a community with a cost of living that is already 2.2 times higher than the Canadian average. Inuit in Canada experience the highest rates of food insecurity of any Indigenous population living in an industrialized nation. Here in Nunavut, over half of households are food insecure.
Please join QCFC's advocacy and fundraising campaign Right to Food Nunavut taking place from October 25th to November 9th, during the fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut and leverage your voice to draw attention to this ongoing public health crisis.
We call upon individuals, especially those at the frontlines of designing and implementing social policy, to utilize their agency to create awareness, inspire action, and drive change towards a food sovereign and food secure Nunavut.
Our aim is to raise awareness about systemic poverty and food insecurity in Nunavut, and activate our community to advocate for inclusive and adequate policies to reduce poverty – one of the main drivers of food insecurity in Nunavut.
As Nunavut's only community food centre, we believe that long-term solutions to food insecurity rest in inclusive policies that take Nunavut's context into consideration and support the region’s local food system.
While Nunavut’s welfare program is often a last resort for Nunavummiut, it is simply not enough for individuals to meet their basic needs. Preliminary data outlining the first official poverty line for Nunavut (a.k.a the Nunavut Market Basket Measure) sets the poverty threshold for a family of 5 living in Iqaluit at an annual income of $118,786. Nunavut's current social policies are miles away from this benchmark. The total annual welfare incomes in Nunavut in 2022 ranged from $9,684 for someone without dependents to $31,238 for a couple with two dependents. Although rates were increased in April of this year, the program is still not close to meeting Nunavut's poverty line.
The territory's welfare system isn’t the only inadequate program that could be used to address Nunavut’s food security crisis. While the Canada child benefit has proven to be an effective cash transfer policy to address food insecurity for families (although improvements can still be made), the Nunavut child benefit is only $330 per year, per child – one of the lowest provincial and territorial child tax benefits in Canada. Considering that 7 out of 10 children in Nunavut are living in food insecure households, the Nunavut child benefit is a tool that could be better utilized to support the territory’s children and ensure they have access to the food they need to grow and learn.
When the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) became available in 2020, we saw how a direct cash transfer program made a substantial impact on our community members after demand for our Community Meal dropped dramatically – and practically overnight. After CRB ended, we experienced a huge spike in demand that has only continued to increase. Demand for our Community Meal has more than tripled in the past two years. In September 2021, we were serving an average of 100 meals per day. Two years later, we served a staggering 350 meals per day this past September.
Times are tough but we believe in our community's sense of care for one another, and we know that Nunavut is not alone in the fight against systemic poverty. It is an issue that demands shared action. This campaign is an opportunity to bring us one step closer to developing a wider understanding of the systemic changes that are urgently needed and how we can achieve them – together.
Oct 25th, 2023
This open letter is being addressed to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly to demonstrate the urgent need for changes to territorial social policy, such as the Income Assistance and the Nunavut Child Benefit programs, to create dignified pathways out of poverty and support food security and food sovereignty in Nunavut.
Food is a human right. Ensuring that Nunavummiut have reliable access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food will create a healthier and stronger Nunavut. Being food insecure has impacts on a person’s health, mental health, and education and employment achievements. These impacts are long-term. For instance, a child who lives in a food insecure household is more likely to experience poor mental health in adulthood. Recent data shows that 70% of children in Nunavut are living in food insecure households. Future Nunavummiut cannot afford for us to wait to address this human rights crisis.
Strong and adequate income security programs are critical towards ensuring that everyone in Canada can realize their human right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to food. Yet Inuit in Canada experience the highest rates of food insecurity of any Indigenous population living in an industrialized nation. Over half of households in Nunavut are food insecure. Women and children are disproportionately affected with the least access to food, health, education, training and opportunities for employment and other needs.
We know that the root causes of food insecurity in Nunavut are a complex and interrelated set of drivers that include the ongoing legacy of colonial policies that have resulted in high poverty rates, a high cost of living, a lack of housing and other infrastructure, and the threat of climate change.
There are specific and concrete actions that would directly impact the health and wellbeing of Nunavummiut. We ask that the Members of the Legislative Assembly commit to the following actions:
Nunavummiut cannot afford to wait any longer. We ask that the Members act now to protect the human rights of all Nunavummiut.
Qajuqturvik Community Food Center, and the undersigned here
ᐅᑦᑑᐱᕆ 25, 2023
ᐅᓇ ᑎᑎᖅᑲᖅ ᑐᕌᖅᑎᑕᐅᔪᖅ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ ᒪᓕᒐᓕᐅᖅᑎᓄᑦ ᑕᑯᔅᓴᐅᑎᑦᑎᓗᑎ ᑐᐊᕕᕐᓇᖅᑐᒥᑦ ᐊᓯᔾᔨᖅᑕᐅᔭᕆᐊᖃᕐᓂᖓ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ ᐃᓅᖃᑎᒌᓐᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᑐᐊᒐᐃᑦ, ᓲᕐᓗ ᐃᑲᔫᓯᐊᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ ᓱᕈᓯᕐᓄᑦ ᐃᑲᔫᓯᐊᓄᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᐊᑦ, ᓴᖅᑭᑎᑦᑎᓗᑎ ᐱᒻᒪᕆᐅᔪᓂᑦ ᐊᖅᑯᑎᐅᔪᓂᑦ ᐊᔪᖅᓴᓗᐊᕈᓐᓃᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᐃᑲᔪᕐᓗᒍ ᓂᕿᓄᑦ ᐊᑦᑕᓇᐃᖅᓯᒪᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᓂᖀᑦ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᐅᓂᖏᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ.
ᓂᖀᑦ ᐃᓄᓐᓄᑦ ᐱᔪᓐᓇᐅᑎᐅᔪᑦ. ᓇᓗᓇᐃᖅᓯᔪᑦ ᑖᒃᑯᐊ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥᐅᑕᐃᑦ ᑐᓐᖓᕕᒋᔭᔅᓴᐅᔪᓂᑦ ᐱᔪᓐᓇᕐᓗᑎ ᓂᕿᑦᑎᐊᕙᓐᓂᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᐱᖅᑯᓯᓄᑦ ᓈᒻᒪᑦᑐᓂ ᓂᕿᓂᑦ ᓴᖅᑭᑎᑦᑎᓂᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᖃᓄᐃᖏᑎᐊᖏᓂᖅᓴᒥᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᓴᖏᓂᖅᓴᒥᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᑦ. ᓂᕿᓄᑦ ᐊᑦᑕᓇᐃᖅᓯᒪᖏᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᑦᑐᐃᓂᖃᖅᑐᑦ ᐃᓄᒻᒧᑦ ᑎᒥᖓᓂ ᖃᓄᐃᖏᑎᐊᓂᕐᒧᑦ, ᐃᓱᒪᒃᑯᑦ ᖃᓄᐃᖏᑎᐊᓂᕐᒧᑦ, ᐊᒻᒪ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᓂᓕᕆᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᐃᖅᑲᓇᐃᔭᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᑎᑭᑕᐅᔪᓐᓇᖅᑐᓂᑦ. ᑖᒃᑯᐊ ᐊᑦᑐᖅᑕᐅᔪᑦ ᐊᑯᓂᐅᔪᒧᑦ. ᐆᑦᑑᑎᒋᓗᒍ, ᓱᕈᓯᖅ ᐊᖏᕋᖃᖅᑐᖅ ᓂᕿᓄᑦ ᐊᑦᑕᓇᐃᖅᓯᒪᖏᑦᑐᓂᑦ ᐃᓪᓗᒥᑦ ᐊᑐᕐᓂᖃᕈᓐᓇᓂᖅᓴᐃᑦ ᓂᐊᖁᒃᑯᑦ ᖃᓄᐃᖏᑎᐊᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐃᓐᓇᕈᕋᓱᐊᓂᕐᒧᑦ. ᖃᐅᔨᓴᕈᑎᒥᐅᓂᕋᑖᖅᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᑕᑯᔅᓴᐅᑎᑦᑎᔪᑦ ᑖᒃᑯᐊ 70% ᓱᕈᓰᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ ᐃᓅᓂᖃᖅᑐᑦ ᓂᕿᓄᑦ ᐊᑦᑕᓇᐃᖅᓯᒪᖏᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐃᓪᓗᓂᑦ. ᓯᕗᓂᔅᓴᒥ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥᐅᑦ ᐅᕙᑦᑎᓐᓂ ᐅᑕᖅᑭᒋᐊᖃᖏᑦᑐᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᐊᕆᓗᒋᑦ ᑖᒃᑯᐊ ᐃᓄᓐᓄᑦ ᐱᔪᓐᓇᐅᑏᑦ ᑐᐊᕕᕐᓇᖅᑐᒥᑦ.
ᓴᓐᖏᒧᓂᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᓈᒻᒪᑦᑐᓂ ᑮᓇᐅᔭᓕᐅᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᑦᑕᓇᐃᖅᓯᒪᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᐊᑦ ᐱᒻᒪᕆᐅᔪᑦ ᑖᒃᑯᐊ ᑭᒃᑯᑐᐃᓐᓇᐃᑦ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ ᖃᐅᔨᔫᒥᔪᓐᓇᕐᓗᑎ ᐃᓄᓐᓄᑦ ᐱᔪᓐᓇᐅᑎᖏᓐᓂ ᓈᒻᒪᑦᑐᓄᑦ ᐃᓅᓇᓱᐊᓂᕐᒧᑦ, ᐱᖃᓯᐅᑎᓪᓗᑎ ᓂᕿᓄᑦ ᐱᔪᓐᓇᐅᑏᑦ. ᑭᓯᐊᓂᓕ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ ᖁᕝᕙᓯᓛᖑᔪᑦ ᓂᕿᓄᑦ ᐊᑦᑕᓇᐃᖅᓯᒪᖏᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᓄᓇᖃᖅᑳᖅᓯᒪᔪᓂᑦ ᐃᓅᓂᖃᖅᑐᑦ ᐱᓕᕆᕕᓐᓄᑦ ᐊᐅᓚᑕᐅᔪᓂᑦ. ᓇᑉᐸᒋᓗᐊᖅᑕᖏᑦ ᐊᖏᕋᐅᔪᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ ᓂᕿᓄᑦ ᐊᑦᑕᓇᐃᖅᓯᒪᖏᑦᑐᑦ. ᐊᕐᓇᐃᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᓱᕈᓰᑦ ᐊᑦᑐᖅᑕᐅᓛᖑᓪᓗᑎ ᐱᕕᔅᓴᖃᖏᓛᖑᓪᓗᑎ ᓂᕿᓄᑦ, ᑎᒥᒃᑯᑦ ᖃᓄᐃᖏᑎᐊᓂᕐᒧᑦ, ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᓂᓕᕆᓂᕐᒧᑦ, ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᐱᕕᔅᓴᐅᔪᓐᓇᖅᑐᓂᑦ ᐃᖅᑲᓇᐃᔭᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᐊᓯᖏᓐᓂ ᐱᔭᐅᔭᕆᐊᓕᓐᓂᑦ.
ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔪᒍᑦ ᐱᔾᔪᑎᖃᖅᑎᑦᑎᔪᓂᑦ ᓂᕿᓄᑦ ᐊᑦᑕᓇᐃᖅᓯᒪᖏᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ ᓇᓗᓇᖅᑐᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᐊᑦᑐᐊᓂᖃᖃᑦᑕᐅᑎᔪᓂᑦ ᐱᖃᓯᐅᔾᔨᔪᓂᑦ ᖃᓪᓗᓈᓄᑦ ᐊᑐᖅᑕᐅᖁᔭᐅᔪᑦ ᐊᑐᐊᒐᐃᑦ ᓴᖅᑭᑎᑦᑎᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᖁᕝᕙᓯᑦᑐᓂᑦ ᐊᔪᓴᖅᑐᓂᑦ, ᐊᑭᑐᔪᓂᑦ ᐃᓅᓇᓱᐊᓂᕐᒧᑦ, ᐃᓪᓗᑭᔅᓴᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᐊᓯᖏᑦ ᐱᖁᑎᕐᔪᐊᑦ, ᐊᒻᒪ ᐊᑦᑕᓇᕈᑎᖃᑎᑦᑎᓂᖓ ᓯᓚᖓ ᐊᓯᔾᔨᕐᓂᖓᓄᑦ. ᐱᑕᖃᖅᑐᑦ ᓇᓗᓇᐃᖅᓯᒪᔪᓄᑦ ᐊᒻᒪ ᖃᓄᐃᓕᓯᒋᐊᕈᑎᓪᓚᕆᐅᔪᓂᑦ ᐊᑦᑐᐃᓂᖃᕋᔭᖅᑐᓂᑦ ᖃᓄᐃᖏᓪᓗᑎ ᐊᒻᒪ ᖃᓄᐃᖏᑎᐊᓂᕐᒧ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥᐅᑦ. ᐊᐱᕆᔪᒍᑦ ᑖᒃᑯᐊ ᒪᓕᒐᓕᐅᖅᑏᑦ ᑲᔪᖏᕐᓗᑎ ᐅᑯᓄᖓ ᖃᓄᐃᓕᓯᒋᐊᓂᕐᒧᑦ:
ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥᐅᑕᐃᑦ ᐅᑕᖅᑭᔪᓐᓇᐃᓪᓕᔪᑦ. ᐊᐱᕆᔭᕗᑦ ᑖᒃᑯᐊ ᒪᓕᒐᓕᐅᖅᑏᑦ ᖃᓄᐃᓕᓯᒋᐊᕐᓗᑎ ᒫᓐᓇ ᓴᐳᒻᒥᔭᐅᓗᑎ ᐃᓄᓐᓄᑦ ᐱᔪᓐᓇᐅᑏᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥᐅᑕᓕᒫᓄᑦ.
ᖃᔪᑐᕐᕕᒃ ᓄᓇᓕᖕᓄᓪᓗ ᓂᖃᐃᓱᕐᕕᒃ, ᐊᒻᒪ ᐊᑎᓕᐅᖅᓯᒪᔪᖅ
Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre’s (QCFC) mission is to promote health, belonging, and food sovereignty by harnessing the power of tradition and community. We address the many root causes of food insecurity through a combination of food access services alongside medium and long term education and advocacy initiatives that increase availability of healthy and culturally sustaining food.
The support we receive from our community has a direct impact on hundreds of Iqalummiut on a daily basis. You can help us in the following ways: