Last Thursday, the world recognized Human Rights Day. The same day, rising food costs made headlines here in Winnipeg.
The price of healthy foods like meat, veggies and fruit are expected to rise by about four per cent in Canada. The few extra cents may not seem like much at the register, but for the average family, it adds up to at least $330.00 more spent on food each year.
If finding the funds to cover this extra cost seems difficult for families in the city, imagine the task for those living in Northern Manitoba, where food prices are already three to five times higher than in Winnipeg.
A Glimpse of the North
Earlier this year, Janelle and Jérémie Wookey, the Franco-Métis sister-brother film team behind Wookey Films, headed north to explore the food challenges faced by families living in remote communities and why, despite the challenges, they continue to call the north home.
Their film, A Right to Eat, focuses on six families living in Brochet, Barren Lands First Nation and Cross Lake. The candid documentary uncovers the daily challenges these families confront to eat good food, mitigate health risks and stay connected as a community.
Hunger Over Health
Colleen Cook, a single mom who doesn’t have the resources to hunt like some other families relies on the local store for food.
“I would eat healthy if I could afford it,” Colleen says in the film.
Good foods like fruit, vegetables and milk are costly, limiting her ability to feed her family healthy foods. Even one of her kids’ favourite go-to snacks, Cheez Whiz, rings in at $20.00 a jar.
The least nutritious foods are also usually the least expensive, so eating unhealthy becomes the only way to avoid feeling hungry.
There’s No Place Like Home
Despite the challenges, many wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. There is history and a sense of community tied to the land that can’t be replaced.
Grace Masse lives in Brochet with her husband and children. After going to school and earning a business diploma in the city, she decided to return to the north.
“I’d rather be here so I went full circle and came back.”
To lessen the high cost of food, Grace pays to have her food flown in from Thompson. That way, a bunch of bananas that would cost her $7.00-$8.00 at the store might only cost $4.00-$5.00.
“Every dollar counts when you’re trying to feed little kids, especially healthy foods.”
Watch the Film
As we continue to reflect on our basic Human Rights, let’s not forget that we all have A Right to Eat.
The film is available to stream for free online or through MTS’s Stories From Home video-on-demand service.