Aglukkaq says Aboriginal people "hunt everyday" rejects United Nations Rapporteur as "ill-informed and patronizing academic"

Indigenous people in Canada don’t face food security issues because “they hunt every day,” said Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq in the House of Commons Wednesday as she fended off opposition attacks fueled by the findings of the UN special rapporteur on food issues.

APTN National News
Indigenous people in Canada don’t face food security issues because “they hunt every day,” said Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq in the House of Commons Wednesday as she fended off opposition attacks fueled by the findings of the UN special rapporteur on food issues.

Olivier De Schutter, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said in a press conference earlier in the day that he was “struck” by the “desperate situation” Indigenous people faced in the country.

De Schutter was in Canada for nearly two weeks to investigate food issues in the country. While he visited some First Nations communities, he did not make it up to Canada’s more remote communities where the cost of healthy foods remains a constant concern.

Aglukkaq, however, dismissed the rapporteur’s findings, saying he was nothing more than an “ill-informed academic.” Aglukkaq said she tried to “educate” De Schutter during a face-to-face meeting about the real situation of Indigenous people in Canada.

“I took the opportunity to educate him about Canada’s North and Aboriginal people that depend on the wildlife that they hunt every day for food security,” said Aglukkaq, in the House of Commons, responding to a question from the NDP.

The traditional food supply in Nunavut, however, is under extreme pressure. Suppliers at Iqaluit’s monthly country-food outdoor market say they can’t keep up with demand. Snowmobiles full of caribou are picked clean before vendors can get them off the sleds.

Food prices are also expected to rise in October when the Conservative’s Nutrition North program for remote northern communities comes into force, ending subsidies for many products.

Aglukkaq fielded NDP questions on the issue which were directed at Aboriginal Affairs John Duncan who did not meet with De Schutter.

“The UN food rapporteur says he’s seen very desperate conditions and people who are in extremely dire straits, yet the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs refused to meet with him when he came to Ottawa. How can the minister continue to deny there is a problem?” said NDP Aboriginal affairs critic Jean Crowder.

Manicouagan NDP MP Jonathan Genest-Jourdain also took aim at Duncan, drawing in the issue of the need for clean drinking water on many First Nations reserves.

“Will the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs keep sticking his head in the sand or take the work of the rapporteur seriously and take action on his recommendations?” said Genest-Jourdain, who is Innu.

Aglukkaq said most of the world’s hungry live outside of Canada.

“Sixty-five per cent of the world’s hungry live in only seven countries: India, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan,” said Aglukkaq. “(And) 239 million people in sub-Sahara Africa are going hungry….”

Liberal Aboriginal affairs critic Carolyn Bennett also took up the issue saying the UN rapporteur’s findings added to the list of Aglukkaq’s government failures to deal with problems plaguing Indigenous communities in the country.

“We know that the minister of health has no strategy on Aboriginal suicide, OxyContin abuse, add today food insecurity,” said Bennett.

Aglukkaq stuck to her lines, however, repeating that De Schutter was an “ill-informed and patronizing” academic.

“It is an academic study of Aboriginal people in Canada’s Arctic, without ever setting foot on the ground and walking in our kamiks for a day to get a good understanding of the limitations and opportunities we have as Aboriginal people in this country,” said Aglukkaq.

Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, an organization that speaks for Canada’s Inuit, said the rapporteur’s findings were welcome and needed.

“Whether the government accepts this report or not to me isn’t important,” said Simon, who met with De Schutter. “The fact we are able to talk to someone that will provide an assessment of the situation in Canada is extremely important for us, especially us Inuit living in the Arctic.”

Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

17 thoughts on “Aglukkaq says Aboriginal people "hunt everyday" rejects United Nations Rapporteur as "ill-informed and patronizing academic"

  1. It seems to be a universal problem-to save the planet now- like-minded people from all over the world must raise their voices in unison and then it  will be ONE voice vibrating in our universe.

  2. Time to come back down to Earth Leona, I live on an Island, only thing to hunt or gather are what’s shell fish is left that isn’t full of toxin’s, the Oceans are dying, stocks are dwindling…no hunting here Ms Leona.

    1. The Pacific Ocean off Western Canada is also hugely radioactive from Fukushima fallout with a huge radioactive ocean plume (and debris field) almost at our doorstep.  Very high readings in the Cascades and Rockies.  

      Deer and wild game are especially vulnerable because they eat wild mushrooms, lichen and things that absorb radiation like crazy. I wish I were exaggerating.  Thank your federal government and the Canadian uranium industry – which feed these nuclear ‘bombs’ (otherwise known as nuclear power plants).  And, notice which governments shut down their monitoring systems at the height of the disaster and refuse to give us any readings while three reactors are in meltdown and have been continually spewing radiation for over a year now – all over those happy hunting grounds.

      Also, read “People of Terra Nullius” if you think the Canadian Government is kind to indians.

      The latest on radiation from Fukushima and how it is affecting Canada:

  3. Perhaps if Aglukkag was forced to live in the same conditions as some of our aboriginal people have to she might be persuaded to stand up for her people who put her where she is today! Remember but for the grace of God there goes I . Shame on you and your government!

  4. Damn uninformed Leona A. There are families that have no ski doos, boats, and other form of transportation to hunt or fish in Nunavut. Most of these families rely on hand outs from you and your government. You audibly is the most uninformed Nunavummiuk. Most families in Nunavut struggle to feed their families. You leona has to get your facts about your people. Just because you make over $90,000 a year, doesn’t mean all Nunavummiut are like that. Bet you don’t even give your fellow Inuk a helping hand unless you get their votews. Uninformed bitch!

  5. I hope the people of Canada wake up and smell the rotting flesh of this Country. We are being nickle’d and dime’d buy these greedy self-seving people that call themselves Politicians, that give everthing they have taken from the pooest amougst us and give it all to big industry, limit our rights to complain, and lie like wet rugs when asked why.

    If you wonder why people go hungry, or have no shelter or clean water, just read the above

  6. Canada is fortunate to be among the ‘have’ countries in the world. But that does not mean that everybody shares that good fortune.  There are pockets of severe poverty and hunger in our country, and food banks have become common from one end of the country to the other. But somehow, the “Harper Government” is blind to suffering. The call people who see it and try to bring attention to it “ill informed” and “patronizing” as though that will make the problem go away. They even make matters worse by eliminating transportation subsidies for food, and by allowing wilderness areas to be destroyed by oil exploration, extraction and transportation reducing large parts of it as possible hunting grounds.

    It’s hard to believe that Aglukkaq would be so sucked into the Conservative method of operation that she would betray her own people and be blind to their plight. 

  7. This has to be one of the stupidest statements I have ever heard!!  Unbeleievable!!!  She really needs to educate herself in the real issues of First Nation People!!!  Food Issues are clean water is real.. contaminations from oil spills are real.. pipeline running through our lands are real..contaiminated rivers from raw sewiage is real… that is to name a few of what First Nation people deal with.. And NO… we don’t not hunt everyday!!! 

  8. This is one of the most ridiculas statements I have ever heard!!!  First Nation People do NOT hunt everyday for food! there is food issues!!!  I think she needs to educated herself on what the real issues are that First Nation People are dealing with!!!

  9. Evidently, Leona Aglukkaq has not taken a trip to any of the communities living downstream of the Tar Sands either. Toxic and literally polluted wildlife hardly make for a good hunt. Just when I think Conservative politicos can’t get any more arrogant, there they go and astonish me again. 

  10. With increasing limits on hunting, yes even among our First Nations, Inuit, and Metis populations – added to the cost of fuel, snowmobile / boat parts, firearms and ammunition, among other supplies needed for increasingly long hunting trips as animal populations dwindle food security is a BIGGER issue for families that hunt “every day”. Perhaps the minister should visit Labrador, where my husband is no longer allowed to harvest a caribou for my father because the new rules state each person has to get their own animal. Add to that the limit imposed on Inuit in the region to only harvest two caribou this season. I don’t think that will feed our family of five sufficiently to keep us from having to purchase groceries at the local Co-Op store. 

  11.  Read Aglukkag’s comments, and
    I can only assume, given the increasing urbanization and
    disproportionate poverty of Canada’s aboriginal population, she must be
    referring to the plentiful supply of dogs, cats, pigeons, crows, and
    squirrels that can be found as a huntable food source around our
    impoverished inner cities, while dodging law enforcement in the course
    of using hunting “equipment”. She is a kapo.(look it up)

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