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Last Updated September 15, 2015

The Nutrition North Canada Program in Canada - The Revised Food Mail Program (2010)



Aboriginal societal infrastructures were destroyed by Canada’s Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) through a policy of forced assimilation. With respect to the arctic, the evolution of modern Inuit Country Food infrastructure was destroyed by forced community relocations and the killing of thousands of sled dogs used in transportation.


The Government of Canada, through INAC, provided a mail postage subsidy program through Canada Post called the Food Mail Program. The goal of the program was to reduce the cost of shipping nutritious, perishable food to isolated northern communities. However, these subsidies were only available for the shipping of “southern” non-Aboriginal commercially available food. The Inuit have cried out for the development of an Inuit country food infrastructure for a number of years. In 2009, under the Access to Information Act, CAID obtained a 2002 study commissioned by INAC that recommended the immediate creation of a northern Aboriginal country food infrastructure in Canada to prevent northern Aboriginal food shortages and create a base for the northern economy. INAC did not act on the study’s recommendations and did not release the study’s findings to Aboriginal Peoples. The Government of Canada still refuses to facilitate the creation of an Aboriginal country food infrastructure. In 2010, a health study was published showing the availability of nutritious food in the North has reached crisis levels leaving up to 70% of preschool Inuit children in Nunavut without enough food to eat. The withholding of knowledge and funding by INAC and the current Conservative Government of Canada are the only discernable reasons for the current food crisis in Nunavut.


In 2006, INAC initiated a review of the Food Mail Program since it had become expensive and woefully inadequate. The final report of that review was never released. Under pressure, INAC released interim reports including one by the Minister of INAC’s special representative who recommended the creation of a pilot Aboriginal country food program.


In May of 2010, INAC announced the replacement of the Food Mail Program by the Nutrition North Canada Program. The new program:



The result of INAC’s changes to the Food Mail Program will:



The Nutrition North Canada Program will fail to reverse the crisis level of starvation currently seen in northern Canada. The new program will still force Aboriginal people to purchase expensive “southern food” and commercial products while withholding the development of local, more nutritious, country food alternatives founded on Aboriginal culture and resources. It seems First Nations and Inuit in Northern Canada will not be given access to an affordable food infrastructure unless they leave their land and move to the south.


In March 2011, INAC began to promote its Nutrition North program by expanding the eligible food list as southern food prices in the north began to skyrocket. INAC also began to promote its inclusion of commercial country food in shipping subsidies. However, the program’s agenda and failings have not changed. Canada is apparently trying to stop the use of readily accessible “free” nutritious country food and replace it with expensive food. It seems the Inuit will either need to leave the north to feed their families or have high paying jobs to remain; non-Aboriginal vocations such as mining. This is what the process of forced assimilation by a policy referred to as selective funding looks like. It is hard to believe that Canada’s policy of assimilation ended with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology in 2008 when the Nutrition North program looks the way it does.


Nutrition North Canada Documents:



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© Christian Aboriginal Infrastructure Developments

Last Updated September 15, 2015