foods are still the best ... for you and your family"
food is good for you - that's the message from Nunavut's Niqiit
committee has been touring communities in the Baffin region to discuss
contaminants in foods and talk about the benefits of a traditional
trying to set people at ease ... we stress the importance that despite
what you may have heard and concerns you may have, country foods
are still the best source of food for you and people in your family,"
said Eric Loring, who represents the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami on
each stop, members of the committee, which includes local and territorial
health workers as well as representatives from government and Inuit
organizations, meet with residents and host a country foods feast.
visits are the next step in the Northern Contaminants Program, which
will put more focus on the link between contaminants and human health.
The goal is to offer Inuit information so they can make informed
meetings generally start in the afternoon, with a visual presentation.
hands on. It's made so it's interactive and people understand what
the concepts mean," Loring said.
health representatives and regional nutritionists talk about what's
good about country foods.
Caughey, a diet promotion specialist with the GN, said people really
want to know how store-bought foods compare to country foods.
thing we do is a fat and sugar demonstration. We show examples of
how much sugar or fat is in certain goods," she said. "We
use Crisco to show how much fat is in foods. In a small bag of chips,
there's five teaspoons of fat. In a serving of caribou there's only
half a teaspoon, so people get a real sense ... it's very effective."
overall approach is positive, because, as Loring points out, it
hasn't worked telling smokers not to smoke.
really emphasizing the positive and giving people choices. It's
not like, 'don't eat seal blubber or narwhal.' It's like if you
have the choice, cut some of the fat off,'" Loring said.
trying to push benefits and give people information so they can
make choices.... So we're really trying to say, 'Hey, first of all,
all country foods are good for you and the number one important
thing is that you have to eat well.'"
committee still suggests pregnant women avoid alcohol and tobacco
and eat a varied nutritious diet, choosing country foods, such as
Arctic char, which are high in nutritional value but low in contaminants,
over high-fat foods, such as maktak, which contain more potentially
many pregnant women with poor nutritional habits aren't concerned
about contaminants. A more healthy diet for these women is the committee's
could get a little bit of a contaminant load [rather] than not eating
anything than pops or beef jerky," Loring said.
they visit each community and receive feedback, committee members
also hope to guide researchers and decision-makers toward incorporating
more Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit or traditional knowledge into the study,
assessment and communication of contaminants.
Nunavut, the GN, its health and social services department and Indian
and Northern Affairs Canada co-chair the committee, but similar
committees are also in place in the three other Inuit regions of
the Baffin portion of the tour, turnouts for the committee meetings
have been good.
smallest audience was 14 in Resolute Bay, although more than 100
showed up in Pangnirtung and 45 in tiny Grise Fiord.
Feb. 10 to 17, the committee will visit Whale Cove, Arviat, Baker
Lake, Rankin Inlet, Repulse Bay, Coral Harbour and Chesterfield
March 3 to 9, it will visit Kugaaruk, Taloyak, Gjoa Haven, Cambridge
Bay and Kugluktuk. A date for Sanikiluaq has yet to be set.
the end of March, representatives from the regional committees will
meet in Ottawa to plan how to continue education and communication
efforts on contaminants.