Nunavut

A child holds a sign at a protest against high food prices in Nunavut in June 2012. A new study released Thursday says people in Nunavut have the highest food insecurity rate for any indigenous population in a developed country at 68 per cent. (Genevieve Nutarariaq/Facebook)

A new study released Thursday highlights the fact that people in Nunavut have the highest food insecurity rate for any indigenous population in a developed country at 68 per cent.

The report, published by the Canadian Council of Academies, notes that a quarter of Inuit preschoolers are severely food insecure. Of that 25 per cent, 76 per cent skip meals and 60 per cent have gone a day without eating. 

The alarming data on Inuit child hunger in Nunavut was first published in 2010 following the 2007-2008 Inuit Child Health Survey

Today's report does not present any new data or make any recommendations. Its authors say they hope their document will help develop priorities for the North and “direct northern food security research to priority areas.” 

None of this comes as a surprise to Northerners. 

'Folks in the South, I hope they're shocked and I hope they're embarrassed.'- David Natcher

"That's the same as it's always been here," said Rus Blanchet, who works at the Iqaluit soup kitchen. "Food is more expensive here. There's nothing anyone can do about that. They have to ship it in by plane and boat."

The report says the average cost of groceries for a family of four in Nunavut is $19,760 per year while almost half of Inuit adults earn less than $20,000 annually.

David Natcher, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, contributed to the report.

"For the folks up north, I think they're going to say 'Yeah, I'm glad you recognize this,'" he said. "For the folks in the South, I hope they're shocked and I hope they're embarrassed."

Natcher says Canada has the resources and capacity to improve food security in the North. 

"The conditions in Nunavut in particular are in many ways dire. We have the resources. We have the capacity to address these issues and we can resolve food insecurity for Northern and Inuit communities."

The World Health Organization defines food security as existing "when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”

Inuit food security

The Nunavut Inuit Child Health Survey, 2007-2009, found that 70 per cent of Inuit preschoolers don't know when they'll get their next meal. (Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada: An Assessment of the State of Knowledge)

Corrections

  • The original version of this story incorrectly stated the number of Inuit preschoolers who skip meals or have gone a day without eating.
    Mar 27, 2014 10:56 AM CT