Food hamper program dishes out taste of home for Inuit in Manitoba

‘Especially with COVID, people lost their jobs and they didn’t really have anything, so we thought this was the best way we could help them,’ says program co-ordinator Jenelle Sammurtok


Inuit living in Manitoba are able to get a taste of home country food, thanks to a new hamper program out of the Manitoba Inuit Association (MIA).

Dolly Tinashlu, who moved here from Naujaat, Nunavut says she misses that taste.

“Thanks to the Manitoba Inuit Association, I get things like caribou, muktao and Arctic char,” said Tinashlu.

Tinashlu is one of roughly 500 Inuit in Manitoba receiving hampers from MIA’s COVID-19 hamper program, which provides families with essentials like toiletries and food.

Jenelle Sammurtok is the program co-ordinator, and says the program is very much needed for Inuit in the province.

“They are really struggling right now,” says Sammurtok. “Especially with COVID, people lost their jobs and they didn’t really have anything, so we thought this was the best way we could help them.”

Tinashlu says the program has been a huge help for her husband Nelson Maillet.

The elderly couple used to supplement their pensions by going to elementary schools and giving presentations with Inuit artifacts and collectables.

Maillet says the MIA helps with more than just food delivery.

“If we have problems, we can go to them. And they have the resources and they know where to send us and stuff like that,” said Maillet.

Sammurtok says the feedback from the hamper program has been positive and enjoys helping families in need.

“To me it’s really empowering to be able to help my community,” Sammurtok says. “To know there’s a lot of people out there struggling and that we’re able to give them something to even go through a few weeks to have food.”

MIA relies on funding from Indigenous Services Canada, and hopes to continue the program as long as there is need for it and the funding is there.

Video Journalist / Thunder Bay

Michelle is a video journalist from rural Manitoba with a Creative Communications Degree from Red River College. Before APTN, Michelle worked as an editor-in-chief for The Projector online publication.