Harvesting programs supporting Inuit way of life amid COVID-19 pandemic


Harvesters Support Grant & Young Hunters Program

Nutrition North Canada’s Harvesters Support Grant demonstrates that direct engagement with Indigenous and northern partners is essential to driving innovative change. It was developed in response to community engagement sessions that highlighted the importance of country foods and the challenges caused by the rising cost of hunting and harvesting.

Grant funding supports a wide range of harvesting activities, such as the purchase of equipment and supplies, maintenance, training, traditional knowledge programs, and food processing, preparation and storage, as well as supporting food sharing initiatives, and food storage such as community freezers.

The Grant was developed in direct collaboration with Indigenous partners and will provide $40 million over five years, and $8 million per year ongoing to Indigenous governments and organizations in Canada’s North. In Nunavut, funding will flow to communities through Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., which has been allocated $14,885,000 over 5 years.

The Grant will increase Northerners’ access to country foods by lowering the high costs associated with hunting and harvesting. It has been designed to be distinctions-based, so as to maximize Indigenous control and decision-making. Recognizing that each community has unique harvesting needs and priorities, dedicated Grant agreements have been developed to ensure that Indigenous governments and organizations have authority to determine how to best support their communities.

The funding flows through a Grant rather than a conventional contribution agreement as grants do not need to be repaid and the funding can be relied upon year after year. This approach provides Indigenous partners with full control on how the funding is put to use.

The Grant was also configured to work with other government programs, such as youth programming and Skills and Employment programming. The intent behind this flexibility was to permit recipients to support and develop the harvesting economy by, for example, using the highly flexible HSG funding, in combination with Skills and Employment funding to support the development of critical skills and businesses, such as small engine repair.

Nutrition North Canada continues to work actively to administer Grant Agreements to Indigenous governments and organizations.  For more information about the Grant, please visit: https://www.nutritionnorthcanada.gc.ca/eng/1586274027728/1586274048849.

Young Hunters Program

The Young Hunters Program (YHP) is a community-based initiative that works with Elders to document the knowledge and skills required for youth to become masters in sustainable harvesting. Led by the Aqqiumavvik Society in Arviat, Nunavut, the program connects male youth aged 8 to 18 with Elders to learn hunting and survival skills, while learning how to monitor and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The YHP offers youth the opportunity to go out on the land to learn about and reinforce their way of life, while instilling a sense of accomplishment and pride. Participants of the YHP gain hunting and survival skills and knowledge through time spent with the Elders, while building cultural resilience, community wellness and food security. Teaching hunting and survival skills, such as measurement of ice conditions, also provides an opportunity for youth to learn about the impacts of climate change.

Programs like this help to address community wellness and mental health in a holistic manner, while providing positive activities and opportunities for youth in their community The population of Arviat is just over 2500, predominantly Inuit, and relatively young; with over 35 per cent of residents under 15 years old. Supporting Indigenous-led climate change initiatives that engage young people is a priority among organizations and leadership in Nunavut and across Canada.

With support from the Government of Canada, the Young Hunters Program has run the Ujjiqsuiniq Project since 2018, developing and piloting a climate change observation and adaptation curriculum that is being incorporated into on-the-land programming in the remote Inuit community of Arviat, Nunavut.

The YHP is jointly supported by the Climate Change Preparedness in the North and Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Programs (through CIRNAC), as well as the Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program (through Indigenous Services Canada). In February 2020, Minister Vandal announced an investment of $1.23 million to the program.

Federal funding to the program breaks down as follows:

More information about the Young Hunters Program is available from the Aqqiumavvik Society.

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