02/07/2014 10:34 EST | Updated 04/09/2014 05:59 EDT

Support hunters to fight hunger in Nunavut, says report

A new study of Nunavut's food security problems is calling for increased support for the territory's hunters and fishers.

It says country food provides a rich source of all nutrients needed for a well-balanced diet.

Dr. Alika Lafontaine, one of the coauthors of the Action Canada report "Hunger in Nunavut: Local food for healthier communities," says he and his fellow researchers were surprised by some of the findings.

"The traditional Inuit diet was sustainable as far as vitamins, essential nutrients, and other things we associate with having to eat fruits and vegetables and other components of our southern food pyramid," he said.

The report says 79 per cent of Nunavut households would prefer to eat more country food, and the most common barriers to accessing country food were the lack of a hunter in the household or not being able to afford to hunt.

It recommends better subsidies for hunting equipment, training youth in hunting skills, and improving processing and distribution capacity to get more country food into stores. 

LeeseePapatsie, who founded the Facebook group 'Feeding My Family' dedicated to raising awareness of food insecurity in the North.​ says a traditional Inuit diet has benefits that go beyond nutrition.

"Country food promotes Inuit culture; it promotes our language; it promotes our lifestyle," she said.

Papatsie says lowering the price of food in the stores is only the first step. She's calling for open dialogue about food security as the next step in tackling the problem.