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Flying food to Iqaluit

Stephan Burnett
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 22/03) - The head of the food program for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada says his budget isn't large enough to allow traditional foods prepared in Yellowknife to be flown to Iqaluit.

Cutters from Northern Fancy Meats in Yellowknife complained to News/North recently that people from Iqaluit cannot order caribou and other traditional foods from their establishment under the current food mail program.

Under the present system, caribou can be ordered into Iqaluit from Yellowknife but there is no discounted price such as what exists under the food mail program. Iqaluit's current food mail program sources food out of Val D'or, Quebec.

Fred Hill, manager of Indian and Northern Affair's food mail program, says the current system is set up on a north-south basis.

At the same time, Hill adds, there would be no problem with setting up a food mail program between Yellowknife and Iqaluit.

"There's no logistical problem. There are such flights taking place but that particular route is not part of the food mail program," said Hill.

Still, Hill says he likes the idea.

"In principle it would be great to support country businesses such as Northern Fancy Meats but if we started accepting shipments

of country food there would be a significant cost to the program," said Hill.

Hill admitted, however, that Northern Affairs has not seriously considered the idea.

"With every point of origin you need someone there to verify the shipment. It's not just air transportation, it's administration. The budget is growing by 10 per cent per year even without expanding it. "In principle, from a nutritional and a cultural point of view it seems to be a very worthwhile idea," he said.

Hill adds if Northern Affairs hears from a sufficient number of people, the department would make a decision as to how to deal with the suggestion.