Sometime ago, a certain food chain franchise (namely Mary Browns) frequently would advertise their most recent chicken promotion via the radio and actually give the price that was available through-out their Atlantic sites.
However, for the locations in Labrador (Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City), the announcer would end the commercial with a qualification using the phrase “a little more in Labrador”!
Now for those of us listening and residing in Labrador, I guess we acknowledged and accepted this for what it was, or at least for what we presumed it was. The cost of living in more northern areas is higher and ultimately making it more trying.
For the towns of Happy Valley-Goose and Labrador City, geographically and according to Postal Canada, they are defined as northern. But, generally speaking, we may not always look at them as your typical remote northern community. They have such amenities as hotels, restaurants, pools, supermarkets, large schools, hospitals and movie theatres. Both now have year-round access by a paved main road.
Nonetheless, the cost of living here is still higher than most places in Canada. Rent cost more (especially in a boom town), fuel costs more, clothes cost more and of course foodstuffs cost more. According to the well publicized the “Inuit Child Survey” a higher percentage (70 per cent) of preschoolers in the utmost northern communities -such as Iqaluit- don’t have access to healthy food. There are programs that are government driven such as Nutrition North that are desperately trying to combat that, but there is much work left to be done.
For low income families (which is estimated to be nearly 14 per cent of the general population), they devote about half of their money on food expenses. So, in the north, people do not only count on on what they can purchase from the local grocery store, but also, on what is referred to as “country food.” What they can hunt, fish and harvest from the land.
Country food is not only important for sustaining ones connection to their cultural but research has demonstrated that food gathered from the land offer natural ingredients such as omega 3 that can help battle a wide variety of illness.
People who live in cities and more urban centers don’t necessarily have to worry about what they will cook for dinner. If you run out of something like bread, milk, eggs or other essentials-you just head to the nearest supermarket and pick it up. Not always the case in the north!
A combination of several influences is- progressively making acquiring- Country Food much more expensive. Hunters have to travel farther to fine game because of population shifts of animals that some say is driven by the issue of global warming and climate change. Travel is costly too: you need money for equipment (including very expensive snowmobiles), GPS, Fuel, bullets and yes food while you are away hunting.
Because fewer people have access to country food, many indigenous groups now offer an excellent program to people that assist with the provision of traditional food. The concept is referred to as the Community Freezer Program. There are several functioning in Labrador presently. Primarily in aboriginal communities.
Local hunters are compensated to harvest, hunt and or fish wild sustenance food by indigenous groups and the food is properly packed, stored and distributed to largely the elders of those particular groups. This program has proven to be extremely successful. I can tell you from personal experience (as my elderly in laws and other relatives) avail of this service on a regular basis. It allows people to have traditional food and keep the cost of their grocery bill down-even a little can help!
I know it’s our choice as a people to live where we choose-but let’s be fair corporate business owners, for those who choose to live in the north, lets not unfairly penalize them.
Thanks for reading my column and if you have ideas and or comments please fell free to e-mail directly at email@example.com.
Cheers from Central Labrador!
Stan Oliver lives and works in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.