Harvesting programs supporting Inuit way of life amid COVID-19 pandemic
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
In Arviat, Nunavut, the Harvesters Support Grant and the Young Hunters Program are coming together to build climate resilience, improve food security and increase community wellness and connection.
Yesterday, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs had the opportunity to meet with program participants, community Elders and representatives from Aqqiumavvik Society, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami to hear more about how these programs matter at the community level amid COVID-19.
The Government of Canada is supporting these community-led initiatives, which are helping Inuit harvesters practice their way of life on the land, while giving youth opportunities to gain hands-on experience and valuable knowledge about the impacts of climate change.
The Government of Canada's Harvesters Support Grant, announced on April 14, 2020, was co-developed in direct collaboration with Inuit partners to improve access to traditional foods and lower the high costs of hunting and harvesting.
As a result of this collaboration, the Grant encourages a complete range of harvesting activities, from community decision-making to ceremony and celebration of the harvest. It respects the inherent hunting and harvesting rights of Inuit and is an important step towards addressing food security in Inuit Nunangat.
Earlier this year, the Government of Canada also announced support for the Aqqiumavvik Society's Young Hunters Program. The community-led program works with Elders to document the knowledge and skills required for youth to become masters in sustainable harvesting. The Young Hunters Program connects youth, age 8 to 18, with Elders to learn these skills and also to develop skills and share knowledge to monitor and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Together, the Harvesters Support Grant and the Young Hunters Program are helping Inuit communities. Canada looks forward to continuing to support these and other community-led initiatives.
"Programs such as the Harvesters Support Grant and the Young Hunters Program raise awareness about climate change, educate youth about traditions and culture, build capacity in the community, promote positive, healthy change. Today, I was able to speak virtually with representatives from both the Harvesters Support Grant program and Young Hunters Program to get an update on how these community-developed programs have helped them and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic."
The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C., M.P., Minister of Northern Affairs
"Food insecurity exacts a profound toll on our lifelong health and development, and magnifies the impacts of other social and economic inequities on Inuit. The Harvester's Support Grant is a constructive and Inuit-specific response to this persistent issue. Inuit, through Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami's Inuit Food Security Working Group, invested significant time codeveloping this initiative and its guiding principles. The $28.6 million over five years allocated to Inuit regional organizations will be delivered through self-determined measures that support the wellbeing of our families and communities."
Natan Obed, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
"The Harvesters Support Grant is finally here and it is welcomed. The Harvesters Support Grant is a way for the Government of Canada to systemically recognize the valuable role Inuit hunters and harvesters play in the pursuit of a sustainable livelihood in Nunavut. But our work does not end here, the reality is that nearly half of all households in Nunavut experience food insecurity."
Aluki Kotierk, President, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
"The Young Hunters Program not only looks at climate change and how we Inuit can adapt to those changes; the YHP is also grounded in Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit Traditional Knowledge) reinforcing the guiding principles of Avatimit Kamatsiarniq (Environmental Stewardship), Piliriqatigiingniq (Working Together for the Common Good), Qanuqtuurunnarniq (Being Resourceful to Solve Problems), but also in Pijitsirarniq; the concept of Serving others. This is fostered by the sharing of country foods caught through the program with the whole community to help fight food insecurity."
Kukik Baker, Executive Director, Aqqiumavvik Arviat Wellness Society
- In April 2020, the Government of Canada announced $40 million over five years, and $8 million per year ongoing, to Indigenous governments and organizations across Canada's North to support the Harvesters Support Grant program.
- Recognizing that each community has unique harvesting needs and priorities, Indigenous governments and organizations have authority for determining how best support their own communities through the Grant.
- The Young Hunters Program Ujjiqsuiniq Project is led by the Aqqiumavvik Society in Arviat. It is jointly supported by the Climate Change Preparedness in the North and Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Programs from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC), as well as the Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program at Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).
- $412,062 over three years from 2018-2021 is being provided through CIRNAC's Climate Change Preparedness in the North Program.
- $375,000 over three years from 2018-2021 is being provided through CIRNAC's Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program.
- $439,954.00 over four years from 2018-2022 is being provided through ISC's Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program.
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