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 - 2022 Report

Eleven years ago, Western Region of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul took on the challenge that was initiated by Eileen Orysiuk and Sister Fay Trombley – to assist those in need living in Arctic Canada. They started with the Community of Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories.

The list of Arctic Communities and the support from SSVP across Canada grew. Today there are three Regions of the Society supporting those in need who live in 16 Canadian Communities in the far North. The Ontario Regional Council focuses on Nunavut Territory, Quebec Regional Council has their focus on Nunavik and the Western Regional Council works to help those in the Northwest Territories.

This project is managed by a team of SSVP volunteers. There are no paid employees. Team members are assigned a community. Their role is to develop knowledge and, most importantly, rapport that allows for an accurate listing of the community needs, as well as confidence in fair distribution of the product shipped.

We would like to reiterate our gratitude to all the people, organizations and businesses who support us and make this project financially viable. Their contribution is vital and we thank them.

Jean-Noël Cormier, Chair
National North of 60 Committee

Click here for full report: North of 60 – 2022 Annual Report

Western Region

The Western Regional Council shipped eight sea containers this year by truck from the Greater Edmonton area and Calgary 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
  • Yellowknife

Peter Ouellette, North of 60 Team
Western Regional Council

Click here for full report: North of 60 – Western Region 2022 Annual Report

Ontario Region

North of 60 had a really good summer 2022. We were able to send support to five Nunavut communities.  A most exciting piece was the addition of a new community, Coral Harbour. Halton Particular Council did a fantastic job of filling a sea container and personally reaching out to the community leaders too. So many new families with smiling faces. Bravo!

We also sent sea containers to Whale Cove, Naujaat, and Chesterfield Inlet. This summer, Rankin Inlet received two crates of food equalling a bit more than half of a container. 

All the food did reach their final destinations but not without surprises. The weather made delivery very difficult. The expected dates given by the shipping company for each community was extended by almost 3 weeks due to water turbulence. A barge carries the food from the highwater mark to the shoreline. This turbulence risked the lives of the seamen, and total destruction of the barge and food.

Pegg Leroux travelled to Nunavut this fall hoping to help unload and set up in Rankin, Chesterfield and Naujaat. She was home when she heard Rankin, then Chesterfield and lastly Coral Harbour received their food – but she had a very fruitful trip. It has been 3 years since her last visit. She reconnected with families, businesses, and the local authorities maintaining an open relationship about our Vincentian help to the families in the communities.

Pegg Leroux, North of 60
Ontario Regional Council

Quebec Region

Solidarity with the populations of north of 60th parallel remains one of the priorities of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul – Quebec Regional Council (SSVP-CRQ).

In 2022, the SSVP-CRQ conducted a mission to assess the healing and reconciliation needs of survivors of Indian residential schools. Supported by the Most Reverend Gilles Lemay, Bishop of Amos and responsible for the Kuujjuaq region, the project was submitted to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) for funding.

At the same time, the SSVP continued to ship boxes of clothing to supply the local thrift store operated by our partner in Kuujjuaq.

Baudouin Kutuka Makasi, Coordinator
Quebec Regional Council

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