Sask. Facebook group sending groceries to northern Canadians

Members of a Facebook group called 'Helping Our Northern Neighbours' are sponsoring families in northern Canada who need help paying high grocery prices.

Helping Our Northern Neighbours group ships groceries to families in need

Megan Clake sponsors a single mother and daughter in Iqaluit, by sending packages with groceries to her every couple of months. (Aldo Columpsi/CBC)

It's not easy paying for your groceries when 2 litres of orange juice comes to $26 at your nearest store. 

That's why a group of people, including hundreds in Saskatchewan, is trying to help out.
Residents of Coral Harbour stage a protest against high food prices in Oct. 2013 outside the community's Northern store. (Courtesy of Simeon Dion)

Helping our Northern Neighbours is a Facebook effort to send groceries to families in northern Canada that need help paying for food. The group connects people in northern Canada who say they need help, with people in the south who want to send food. 

'We spend $100 in groceries, and that's $400 to $500 of savings for them'

Megan Clake organized the Saskatchewan chapter of the group, which started this past Sunday. She said within five days her group has grown to more than 200 members. She chalks up the volume of support to sticker shock at some prices she's seen in grocery stores in northern communities.

"When you're looking at a can of soup costing $6, where you can get it here for 67 cents when it's on sale, and you multiply that by every single piece of groceries, it's just unreal," Clake said.
High Arctic MLA Ron Elliott said these photos of food prices in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, illustrate his frustration with the Nutrition North Program. (Submitted by Ron Elliott)

She's been a sponsor for a family in Nunavut for a few months already. She said she sends groceries to them and they have sent notes back to thank her. She's also learning more about the hardships they face in grocery shopping, and which types of food work best for them.

"It's a single mom and her daughter in Iqaluit," Clake explained. "We spend $100 in groceries, and that's $400 to $500 of savings for them, just because of the price differences."

Clake serves an organizing role with the growing Helping Our Northern Neighbours Saskatchewan group. Other volunteers have stepped up to become some of the province's 10 community 'drop-off points'. They're accepting food donations and packaging and sending them to northern families that have asked for help.

Donation drop-off locations

So far, the Saskatchewan drop-off points are serving the following areas:

  • Estevan/Carlyle
  • Milestone/Wilcox/Rouleau
  • Moose Jaw
  • North Battleford
  • Prince Albert
  • Regina (2 locations)
  • Saskatoon
  • Swift Current
  • Yorkton
​Clake said the group is still new, so it's working on matching people with those in need right away. She said other larger chapters are working on supporting food banks, however her group is currently working on covering the most immediate needs.
The shelves at the Northern Store in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, in February 2011. (Submitted by Ron Elliott)

"It's almost scandalous that in Canada today there are people who are struggling as much as these families are struggling," Clake said. "There is definitely awareness being raised and there are other groups that are kind of coming off of this now that are pushing on the political side of things, but we are really focusing on making sure people have food in tummies."

The Saskatchewan arm of the group has also set up a web page for cash donations to help cover shipping costs. Normally, Clake said, the shipping costs are up to the donor.


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