Can you imagine spending $12 for a just few slices of watermelon? In the Canadian territory of Nunavut, shipping costs continue to drive up the cost of food while residents slide further into...
Can you imagine spending $12 for a just few slices of watermelon? In the Canadian territory of Nunavut, shipping costs continue to drive up the cost of food while residents slide further into poverty. Can community members use a Facebook group to solve the problem?
Leesee Papatsie stands in her kitchen, slicing whale and arctic char on sheets of recycled cardboard laid across the table. Her steady hand rolls a small curved blade, a traditional arctic knife called an ulu, in quick but calculated strokes.
Papatsie, a mother of five in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada's largest territory, calls her family over to eat, stealing bites for herself as she chops. Arctic char is one of the primary fish caught in the bays around the area – Papatsie prepares it raw, like the whale. Narwhal skin and blubber make up a dish called muktuk, a traditional Inuit delicacy that has a thick, rich taste, like penne noodles in butter. Today, her family dips it in soy sauce. Dried fish and muktuk are just a few of the "country foods" of the north and are part of the traditional diet of the Nunavummiut people that has sustained them for the last 4,000 years. This particular meal has a dual purpose: it’s an edible homage to Papatsie's Inuit heritage and is one of the only ways to avoid soaring food prices at local stores.
Nunavut is the largest Canadian territory and the only one inaccessible to the rest of North America by highway. As such, the high costs of transportation drive up prices on any goods that aren’t produced locally. That means it's staggeringly expensive to live here, which becomes obvious in the community's grocery aisles where four slices of prepackaged watermelon can cost upwards of $12 and heads of cabbage can climb to more than $28.