BUSINESS

Way North Foods: Fake Ads Lampoon Exorbitant Food Prices In Nunavut

01/07/2016 11:47 EST | Updated 01/08/2016 10:59 EST

“Like getting squeezed?” a voice asks. “Two-litre orange juice just $26.29!”

In a cheesy grocery store ad, employees mock high prices you won’t find anywhere else. By the end of the video, it all makes sense.

“Way North Foods isn’t real. But for families in Nunavut, its prices are,” reads the final caption.

The online campaign, created by Calgary ad agency Wax, aims to draw attention to exorbitant food prices in Canada’s northern communities, specifically Nunavut.

“We created a fake grocery store but used real prices,” Wax’s art director Brad Connell told the Globe and Mail. A second ad pokes fun at holiday food pricing.

People in Nunavut pay roughly double for food compared to what Canadians in southern regions pay. Some items cost as much as 10 times more than they would be priced in other cities.

For some families, that means children go hungry. Almost 37 per cent of Nunavut families had trouble getting enough to eat or missed meals because of food prices, according Statistics Canada.

The site, End The Price Hike, and YouTube series "Way North Foods", were created with the help of a Facebook group where Northerners discuss food security issues.

“I do not want any kids going to bed hungry,” wrote one of the group’s administrators, Leesee Papatsie. “And I do not want [my] kid's kid going hungry because they cannot afford to buy food.”

A community in flux

In the last 50 years, Nunavut has transitioned from semi-nomadic subsistence hunting to becoming a valuable player in Canada’s modern economy with growing resource and fisheries sectors.

As the northern community adapts, so does its eating habits. Store-bought groceries have to be shipped in, but with no roads to Nunavut, products are flown in, which bumps up the price of food.

A failed government program

The Conservative government replaced Food Mail, a program which subsidized the shipper, with Nutrition North, which subsidizes food retailers.

A 2014 report found eligibility was not based on need and that there was no guarantee the retailer actually passed savings onto the consumer.

The report also concluded Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada did not collect relevant information to measure the program's success.

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