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Food insecurity and facebook

Posted by on Friday, April 27, 2012

Things that usually clutter Facebook newsfeeds: cat videos, Instagram pics and party invitations. And increasingly, at least in Nunavut’s capital city, caribou carcasses. 

In a startling shift away from the long-rooted Inuit custom of sharing food among families, a growing number of opportunistic northerners are instead using Facebook to sell their traditional food.

Iqaluit Sell/Swap, an open group on the popular social networking site, serves primarily as a convenient place to auction off old children’s clothes or fix-er-up cars. But lately, some members have been offering up bounty from their latest hunting trip such as caribou or arctic char - for a price.

It’s an avarice born of desperation.

Warmer winters have led to unpredictable and dangerous ice conditions, taking their toll on traditional hunting. For Inuit who don’t have the money to supplement the shortages with store-bought food this means long months of never-full stomachs and mental stress.

The winter of 2010/2011 was particularly hard. McGill graduate student Sara Statham, 24, wanted to find out how vulnerable the climatic changes (freeze-up came about two months later than average) would leave the impoverished neighbourhoods in Iqaluit. At the International Polar Year conference in Montreal this week, Statham presented her findings.

In addition to the strained sharing networks - which is the Inuit’s traditional way of dealing with food shortages - she discovered that 54 percent of publicly-owned households did not have enough money to buy store food and could not get country food. Previously, only 46 percent of households had reported the same.

“One week... we had no food. We only had one dried noodle pack for 4 people. We can’t live like that,” Statham recalls the mother of one young Inuit family telling her. However, Statham said she found that while environmental changes had some impact on the vulnerability of Iqaluit’s poor, there were larger socio-economic issues that were affecting food insecurity. Food and water insecurity have been highlighted at the conference as one of the major issues facing northern communities.

  Comments (5)

Very informative. I had no idea about that particular situation among the Inuit. It is desperate times. Thank you for writing this story.

Submitted by Arlene Keith on Friday, April 27, 2012

Thank you, Sabrina, for showing interest in my research. If anyone is looking for more information, please visit:

Submitted by Sara Statham on Saturday, April 28, 2012

Facebook group protesting the high cost of food in Nunavut with 21,132 members as of this day...

Submitted by Feeding My Family (Nunavut) on Monday, August 20, 2012

The situation in the North, with reference to food security is dire! Not to diminish this in any way but the Iqaluit Auctions Bid encompasses far more than food and used items for sale! Legitimate craftspeople and artisans use the site to sell handmaid items of the highest quality! There you will see the ingenuity of the Inuit in the array of hand made stuffs! They do this to help support themselves and their families! Check out the auction and for more information on how you can help, go to Feeding my Family on Facebook! Note minimum wage is the same in Nunavut as down south, food markups are at %300!!!

Submitted by Joyce Halladay on Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shouldn't Facebook be capitalized? Not to mention Instagram?

Submitted by Me on Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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