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Food sharing is a key component to Inuit culture, not everyone in the community has the ability or freedom to hunt, the process of sharing harvested food such as meat, fish and berries has been part of the Inuit lifestyle for generations. When hunters return to their towns it is customary to share meat with their family and neighbours
Inuit regard resource sharing for mutual help as one of their traditional social characteristics. (Kishigami)
According to the mayor of Akulivik, if more than 10 caribou are available, they are divided and delivered to all the households. If fewer than 10 caribou are available, meat goes first to the households of elders, widows and persons with providing them with money or gasoline, and only then to other households in need of meat.
According to tradition, food should be shared, not sold, and many still view selling country food as ‘unethical’. Presently this is controversial, but since the conditions around the Inuit economy are changing, the Inuit appear to adapt (Minogue, 2005). Chabot did a study in 2004 and suggested that in Nunavik redistribution of wealth is less in larger communities, “where salaried workers may reinvest their money in marketed production equipment and vehicles. This may represent a hindrance to solidarity and sharing” Direct sales of country food were seldom reported by the informants (in Nunavut) . It can be argued that the lack of data does not implicitly indicate that the phenomenon of direct sale of food is exceptional, but that people may avoid mentioning it because it is socially unacceptable. (Chabot 2002) In, Montreal Inuit volunteers prepare Inuit country food for Montreal based Inuit once a month. The country food is donated by hunters in Nunavik (Northern Quebec) and Nunavut, and sent to Montreal through Inuit-controlled airlines (Air Inuit and First Air) on a non-revenue basis (Lowi, 2001).
With the use of freezers townspeople are now receiving their meat from unknown hunters, “thus weakening reciprocal obligations or responsibilities to food givers.” The fact that the hunter is no longer engaging in the act of sharing the ties and reciprocity is not being emphasized. In some communities the cost of running a centralized freezer / and traveling to and from the freezer was so expensive that commmunities bought smaller freezer for every household.
Harvesting is impacted by the following employment factors
Seasonal and part-time employment offer the most flexibility to accommodate harvesting activities.
Challenges - frustrated by lack of free time on the land
Benefits - Income, Ability to purchase supplies and equipment
Challenges - Still have to arrange harvesting around work and other factors
Benefits - More flexibility ability to harvest at crucial time
Challenges - Income for equipment and supplies can be mitigated through social networks(access to resources in order to harvest)
Benefits - Availability of time
(presentation by Zoe Todd, University of Alberta MSc Candidate Rural economy)