Inuit in Quebec are getting a taste from the province’s $2.5 billion surplus to help keep the cost of living down.
The province announced that $115.8 million over six years will be spent to aid the fifteen communities in in Nunavik, located in subarctic Quebec above the 55th parallel.
The Agreement on the Financing of Measures to Reduce the Cost of Living in Nunavik itself is not new, but rather a renewal.
It is however almost double that of the $33 million over three years of the last agreement.
“This is a good example of how the Inuit Territory of Nunavik and the Quebec government can work together to make life in the north affordable,” said Charlie Watt, president of Makivik Corporation, the organization that represents Nunavik Inuit in negotiations with Quebec and Canada.
“We have to do a lot more to make life in the great north more equitable with the rest of Quebec.”
Much of the money will focus on making hunting more affordable, and in order to encourage a healthier lifestyle, to help Inuit offset grocery costs with country food.
“This is really good. It lowers the cost of so many items in stores and even gas prices,” said William Tagoona, communications director for Makivik in an email to APTN News.
“Last count the money lowered the cost of about 5,000 items, including food Nutrition North will not cover such as KLIK, hunting clothing such as snow boots, diapers, and snowmobile oil.”
Tagoona also adds that often Inuit in Nunavik are forced to choose between paying the rent or buying groceries.
According to a study conducted by Laval University, the cost of living is nearly 30 per cent higher in Nunavik.
A major reason for this is the remoteness of the region.
“Nunavik lies completely outside the major food or commercial distribution networks. The absence of roads and the harsh climate considerably increase the cost of goods and services, which greatly increases the burden that Nunavik families bear,” said Quebec Minister of Indigenous Affairs Sylvie D’Amours in a press release.
“The government’s financial assistance is thus essential to maintain and improve living conditions in Nunavik.”
In the same press release, Jennifer Munick, president of the Kativik Regional government, the body responsible for providing services on the territory, succinctly described what Thursday’s announcement means to Nunavik.
“This program is critical to the well-being of Nunavummiut [Inuit in Nunavik], where many don’t get enough to eat.”