Late re-supply barges send food prices soaring in northern N.W.T. communities

Delayed NTCL barges are causing food prices to skyrocket in affected communities, causing some locals to increase their reliance on traditional foods.

Cans of pop selling for $5 in Paulatuk

Last year, Millie Thrasher's freezer was full of vacuum-packed fish she caught herself. She says she hasn't been to the grocery store lately because she can't afford it. (David Thurton/CBC)

Delayed NTCL barges are causing food prices to skyrocket in affected communities, causing some to increase their reliance on traditional foods.

At the Northern store in Paulatuk, N.W.T., cans of pop are selling for $5, while large cans of fruit salad have jumped to $25.

"I haven't really been to the Northern, because I can't afford it," says Millie Thrasher, who lives in Paulatuk.

"We're lucky we always have country food. We have caribou… we have geese."

The barges aren't expected to arrive for another month, and are already a month late.

NTCL says the delay is due to a tugboat that went aground in Great Slave Lake near Lutselk'e in late July. That boat had to be brought back to Hay River and inspected before it can depart down the Mackenzie River.

But by the time of the grounding in Lutselk'e, people were already complaining that the barges were late.

Store owners are now having to fly in groceries, multiplying the cost of food – especially heavier items such as canned goods.

High food prices are nothing new in the North. For Thrasher, relying on country food is standard as well, though she says she misses her cans of fruit.

"We live on country food all through the year. We have to," she says. "We don't buy our meat from the Northern."