around this time last year people finally started taking notice of the food-related issues in the upper northern reaches of Canada; consider this your reminder that even since then, juice is still $26 in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, and that the predominately indigenous communities in Canada’s North are forced to pay extraordinarily exorbitant prices for basic groceries due to structural inequity and the contemporary effects of ongoing settler occupation.
No, it’s due to the fact that you can’t really justify building a $200 million permanent road on melting permafrost and muskeg, one that’s likely to fail to serve a huge area with less than 50,000 people in it. When you can only drive on ice roads, groceries are going to be ridiculously-fuck-expensive. What’s the solution? Well, the Northern Allowance doesn’t take transportation costs into consideration, but then to do so will be to impoverish those who moved to larger centres in the North because they couldn’t afford $26 for a bottle of low-calorie cranberry juice.
It’s expensive to get modern conveniences flown in, and getting them flown in is the only way to get them in most of the year, or driving non-perishables on ice roads. Is there some autonomy agreement or structural change that’s going to fix this, or is your argument that the federal government should just subsidize Northern foodstuffs? Should they instead make sure every helicopter trip that’s necessary is also packed to the brim? (That’d be a good short-term measure, not that it’d do much) If it’s the latter, fine, but then it’s agglomeration, which is the thing that makes groceries more expensive in Ponoka than Edmonton, not structural inequity, which is the thing that makes cops more likely to stop a First Nations person while walking.
Both of those things can exist.
And that’s somewhere close to already existing well-trafficked shipping lanes.
the juice is not $26 just because of transportation costs. it’s also a monopolized market & critical lack of basic infrastructure, which is why things like electricity & heat are 300-500% higher in Nunavut than in the rest of Canada (PS that’s what a relevant link looks like). the latter is an example of structural inequity—Canada has set an imaginary standard of living that includes basic social services like affordable heat, electricity, water, food, as well as access to state-provided infrastructure like roads, that it does not put into practice for rural, particularly indigenous, communities. that is an active policy choice, not a consequence of an abstract esoteric economy in which the state plays no role. yes—the Canadian government should be subsidizing food sent to the North, especially considering urban areas get all kinds of government-subsidized services that rural Northern communities don’t have access to (let’s have a serious conversation on the infrastructural disparities between rural and urban & settler and indigenous, as well as the myriad subsidies the agricultural and shipping industries benefit from, before you start crying foul on subsidizing food for Northerners). the Canadian government should also be implementing policy that supports a breakup of the monopoly, as well as concrete measures to give Northern communities some food sovereignty. facilitating better access to traditional subsistence hunting would be a start to that (the struggles to maintain these practices are yet another example of structural inequity—unaffordable expensive equipment—produced & exacerbated by colonial violence).
we’re not talking about “modern conveniences” for a primitive archaic group of people that refuses to evolve and join the rest of the world, we’re talking about basic human necessities for communities that are struggling to maintain their cultural lifeways, connection to their ancestral lands, and national sovereignty in the face of ongoing colonial occupation that demonizes their cultures, demeans & dehumanizes their peoples, and deprives them of what they need to survive. access to healthy food isn’t a “modern convenience,” it’s a human right.