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Tbnewswatch Local News
Monday May 25 2015
9:22 AM EDT
2014-08-21 at 15:35

Report highlights need for improved access to healthy food for First Nation communities

By Jodi Lundmark,

THUNDER BAY -- Ontario’s regional chief says a new report calling for better living standards in First Nations affirms that basic human rights are not being met in the communities.

“The (United Nations) declaration on indigenous peoples states there has to be dignity, respect for all human beings. When there is a lack of quality health care and living that violates that,” said Stan Beardy.

“In most of the First Nation communities, we’re talking about third world conditions.”

The First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment Study (FNFNES) was released earlier this week and outlined the need for an improvement in health standards for First Nations, particularly in increasing access to safe and healthy food.

The study focused on the diets of residents of 18 First Nations communities in Ontario from 2011 to 2012.

More than half of the northern communities involved in the study reported food insecurity because of the high cost of food. Groceries for a family of four in Northern Ontario costs about $344 per week. In southern Ontario, it would cost an average family about $175 per week for food.

Beardy said in a community like Muskrat Dam First Nation, milk is four times more expensive than in a grocery store in Thunder Bay.

“What ends up happening is what goes up north in those community stores is mainly junk food, a lot of pop and chips. Those are not healthy for anybody. Because of fixed incomes, in most cases that’s all the family can afford is junk food,” he said.

There was also lead found in deer and mercury in predatory fish like walleye, traditional food staples in many First Nations people’s diets.

The chief said the mercury issue in the English River by Grassy Narrows First Nation is an example of how fish and animal habitats have been destroyed.

“Those people’s way of life was completely destroyed by the forestry operations. Mercury 50 years later is very much present,” he said, adding the people of Grassy Narrows depend on fishing and hunting.

The study also states that of the 18 communities that took part, seven of them were under a boil water advisory during the time the study was being conducted.

There are 62 First Nations in Ontario currently under a boil water advisory.

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Papercut says:
As a decendant of the First Nation, I think it is time to GET BACK TO TRADITIONAL WAYS.

Hunting, fishing, and growing are the keys to HEALTH.
8/22/2014 12:55:31 PM
djs says:
There was an editorial in this morning's CJ discussing the idea of building greenhouses and raising livestock on the northern reserves. Ironically, I had been thinking along the same lines after reading this article yesterday. If there is not enough healthy food, why aren't these initiatives being explored? Considering the high unemployment rate on most reserves and the lack of activities for anyone to do to relieve boredom, gardening and farming might provide some work that can be used to the benefit of the whole population. The fresh vegetables and fruit could be made available to all; fresh eggs could be had from the chickens; fresh meat could be had from the farm animals as needed. This would help with the sustainability of the reserves, and allow for more room on the planes to bring in other staples like flour and milk.
8/22/2014 8:11:36 AM
naminator says:
During a discussion with a contractor, I was informed the average school that costs 5 Million to build in Thunder Bay can run upwards of 20 Million in these remote communities.

Why is it that these first nation leaders, insist on living in remote locations with no access to roads except maybe ice roads during the winter. Why is it the responsibility of Canadian tax payers to foot the bill for this.

If someone holds there hand to a hot element then complains it is hot, I would tell them to move there hand. If they continued to hold there hand to that element, hurting themselves and then demanded to be payed for the hardship or supported I would laugh at them.

Yes I understand these communities have fought for this land, but at one point these proud nations would not have had access to half the resources they do now. Why should they expect to get those resources for the same as a major metropolitan area? If it is too expensive move, or go back to living off the land.
8/21/2014 6:20:42 PM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
I understand the healthcare issue. As for the food issue,this is where I'm at a loss.. For centuries the indigenous people have lived off the land and have fought to maintain their traditional hunting and fishing lands and yet the claim is decreased access to nutritious foods. Cows milk was never part of the first nation diet as well as sugar. I recall a study done on a B.C. Reserve in which the First Nation people were taken off non aboriginal food They eat only traditional foods resulting in a reduction in people requiring diabetic medication as well as weight loss. I saw it on a CBC news report and can't recall who conducted the study. Maybe this study should be looked at.
8/21/2014 6:00:06 PM
ranma says:
We need to end the remote first nations reserves, period. It is too expensive to continue handing out money to these reserves. There are no jobs, there are no roads. It's a fool's game to think you can live in the middle of nowhere and expect to have a normal life.
8/21/2014 5:11:42 PM
bobguy says:
I have to call a bluff on the milk comment. Milk is 4 times more expensive because of the freight costs due to the weight of liquid...aproximately 10lb per gallon. Therefore I believe that markup on pop is just as much as milk.

If people insist on living in remote communities they must take the hardships that come along with that. We live in one of the best countries in the world where we have the freedom to move to wherever we can prosper the most. If things are so bad perhaps it's time to live somewhere else where there is better education, health services and employment opportunities.

Sometimes I feel it's just the leaders and employed who want to keep the populations in these comunities so they can keep their own reigns on power.

On the other hand, polution left by Domtar in the English River system in unacceptable and some reparations should be paid.
8/21/2014 5:00:42 PM
advocate says:
We need to move away from Thunder Bay and Toronto food in the North. We need to work with these communities on turning their diet into more healthy and portable food. Things like rice, beans and quinoa. Much easier to transport and store, and far more healthier.
8/21/2014 3:38:46 PM
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