March 31, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba – Last November, APTN Investigates was first in Canada to break the story of hungry Inuit scavenging for food in a garbage dump. Reporter Kathleen Martens’ story, Wasting Away, sparked a national debate on more permanent poverty solutions, prompted an online charitable initiative and resulted in Facebook discussion groups.
Canadians were shocked at the sight of proud Inuit scrounging for groceries they couldn’t afford. Dismay then turned to disgust when taxpayers learned the fruits and vegetables found at the dump were heavily subsidized under the Harper government’s Nutrition North Canada (NNC) program.
Since Martens’ first story aired, the Harper government is rewriting the controversial NNC program. Now, she is back from the Arctic with even more troubling testimonials, this time from the traditional Inuit community of Arctic Bay, Nunavut.
People of Arctic Bay may be isolated, but they know all about the furor caused by Martens’ initial report. Local politicians, Elders and young parents lined up to speak on camera for the first time about the stress and hunger they face every day. There is a staggering need for affordable food due to the extremely high cost of shipping to remote communities. When the food bank gets a new shipment of donated groceries, “almost 200 people will come,” says chairperson Esther Piungituq. That’s a quarter of the town’s population.
Food For Thought will air on APTN Investigates, Friday, April 10, 2015. An excerpt will be broadcast on Monday, April 6, 2015, as part of APTN National News.