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 - 2021 Report

Ten 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 19 Canadian Communities in the far North. The Ontario Regional Council focuses on Nunavut Territory (report), Quebec Regional Council has their focus on Nunavik (report) and the Western Regional Council works to help those in the Northwest Territories (report).

COVID restrictions continued in 2021 and resulted in very little food donations from parishioners, families, and friends. However, many loyal supporters, foundations and charities provided cash donations that allowed for bulk purchases of the basic food security shipments to those in need 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 – 2021 Annual Report

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

Click here for full report: North of 60 – Western Region 2021 Annual Report

Ontario Region

This year for Ontario, we are serving eight communities: Arviat, Whale Cove, Rankin Inlet, Chesterfield Inlet, Naujaat, Kugaaruk, Taloyoak, and Gjoa Haven.

However, we need to respect and do things a bit differently due to the Coronavirus situation in each community. The Kitikmeot region (Kugaaruk, Taloyoak & Gjoa Haven) plus, Arivat in the Kivalliq are still being greatly helped through federal and local governmental assistance. Food sent last summer was not completely used and thus stored due to this assistance. This food will be used once the governmental assistance has stopped. For the summer of 2021, these 4 communities will receive North of 60 assistance but not from a 2021 sea container.

A one-time plan was devised in full cooperation with Fr Lukasz from the Kitikmeot region and the Co-op managers in the 3 communities. Our Vincentian sisters and brothers in Ontario will donate money in the name of their northern community to the Ontario Region. In turn, these funds will be sent to Fr Lukasz at 3 specific intervals – Christmas, Easter, and July prior summer break. This financial assistance will purchase food vouchers that hopefully will carry the community until the next container in August of 2022. All families must meet with Fr Lukasz in order to receive a voucher. 

Pegg Leroux, North of 60
Ontario Regional Council

Click here for full report: North of 60 – Ontario Region 2021 Annual Report

Quebec Region

We are very happy with this first delivery in this project, and this is just the beginning!

On Wednesday, October 13, under a small autumn sun, while the mercury was 13 degrees, the team from the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul – Quebec Regional Council (SSVP-QRC) was preparing boxes of winter clothes for First Nations and Inuit people as part of the initiative funded by the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones and coordinated jointly by the the Ungava Lodging Center in Kuujjuaq and the SSVP-QRC in Montréal.

This was the first delivery of a 750 kg batch of clothes, 300 kg of which were sent to Kuujjuaq by Air Inuit and nearly 450 kg delivered to indigenous organizations in Montréal.

Baudouin Kutuka Makasi, Coordinator
Quebec Regional Council

Click here for full report: North of 60 – Quebec Region 2021 Annual Report

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