North of 60

Food prices in communities north of the 60th parallel can be exorbitant and further enshrine communities in poverty, which is a major concern in the north.  Over the years, as part of its mission, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) has developed an innovative approach. Learn more below.

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In this video, Peter Ouellette, from the Western Regional Council, describes the North of 60 Project. He invites you to meet Michelle, Ruth Anne, Elizabeth, and David from the Northwest Territories, as well as Helen, Keith, Lu-Ann, and Dorothy from Nunavut. Take a few minutes to learn about their environment and their work, and feel their gratitude.

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Food prices in communities north of the 60th parallel can be exorbitant and further enshrine communities in poverty, which is a major concern in the north.  Over the years, as part of its mission, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) has developed an innovative approach of:

  • reaching out and establishing contacts in remote communities north of the 60th parallel;
  • identifying their needs;
  • gathering non-perishables and other day-to-day household supplies and other articles required;
  • arranging sea containers to deliver these gathered products.

SSVP North of 60 initiatives have seen the creation of numerous food banks and used clothing distribution centres in Northern Communities, helping hundreds of parents feed and clothe their children. These initiatives not only help restore dignity to families, they also contribute towards:

  • build skills and knowledge in the community;
  • effect self-determination;
  • cultivate community Leaders;
  • bring sustainable social change.

You may have heard the phrase: A hungry belly has no ears. This rings particularly true for many children living up north where the cost of food is high. Our food banks help fill bellies, and this additional source of energy strengthens students’ concentration. The domino effect doesn’t stop there. When students are able to complete classroom tasks more efficiently, they feel more motivated, which increases their chances of finishing school and contributing to economic growth in their communities.

North of 60 - 2020 Report

Below are reports from representatives of the Western, Ontario and Quebec Regions on North of 60 Project-related activities carried out in 2020. We all knew 2020 would have its challenges. The closure of churches and schools in the spring significantly impacted our ability to collect the necessary food for the project. In addition, physical distancing requirements imposed by the pandemic made the preparation of containers a little more difficult. The ongoing strike by dockers at the Port of Montreal in the middle of the shipping season added additional stress, as Ontario Region officials use this port to transport containers to Nunavut. Despite all this, we were able to get aid to 18 communities in northern Canada.

As for the Quebec Region, engagements started with leaders in the Kuujjuaq to establish the relationship and be in a position to ship goods in 2021.

I would like to thank all the individuals and organizations who have given generously to allow the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul to continue to help those in need in this part of the country. I would also like to thank all Vincentians who, again this year, put their hands up despite the pandemic to ensure that the food collected reach their destination.

Jean-Noel Cormier

Western Region

The Western Regional Council shipped eight sea containers this year by truck from Edmonton to Hay River where they were transferred to barges to sail down the Mackenzie River and then by ocean barge for movement across the Beaufort Sea.

The Western Region of SSVP serves the following Arctic Communities:

  • Tuktoyaktuk
  • Ulukhaktok
  • Paulatuk
  • Inuvik
  • Aklavik
  • Sachs Harbour
  • Tsiigehtchic
  • Fort Good Hope
  • Fort McPherson

Peter Ouellette, North of 60 Team
Western Regional Council

Ontario Region

The summer of 2020 was indeed very different for all our councils/conferences struggling to collect food items amid the COVID-19 pandemic. School and parish closures led to a huge drop in food donations and financial support.

COVID-19 created new dilemmas – bare grocery shelves and limited purchasing power. Five sea containers were shipped, and no community were left without assistance since there were also additional assistance provided by the federal government due to the pandemic; however, the volume of goods sent have been reduced for most communities: Rankin Inlet (Ottawa CC) received one sea container. Gjoa Haven (via pandemic donations), Taloyoak (St. Patrick’s Conference in Markham), and Kugaaruk (Peel PC) received crates of food. Whale Cove (St. Raphael’s Conference), Arviat (Peterborough PC), Chesterfield Inlet (Kitchener-Waterloo PC) and Naujaat (St. Catharines CC) received their containers.

We sent five sea containers and three crates of food to Nunavut, helping eight communities.

Pegg Leroux, North of 60
Ontario Regional Council

Quebec Region

After successful first shipment of clothing via Air Inuit in 2019, families in Kuujjuaq and its surroundings were eagerly awaiting the containers from Montreal.

All safety measures related to COVID-19 were applied. The QRC received the support from the following organizations:

  • the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services;
  • the Tulattavik Health Centre in Ungava;
  • Kuujjuaq City Council, which, through its resolution of June 17, 2020, committed $100,000 to the project;
  • the airline company Air Inuit, whose contract was extended to May 31, 2021 for the transport of products.

The Kuujjuaq thrift store, which serves as a transit centre to receive and sort donations for the North, reopened under COVID-19 safety measures. Hundreds of boxes of clothing, including children’s clothing and other items requested, are ready to be sent to Kuujjuaq, pending financial contribution from the Quebec Aboriginal affairs secretariat.

Baudouin Kutuka Makasi, Coordinator
Quebec Regional Council

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