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The Ottawa Citizen reports that the UN's Olivier De Schutter...

Author: 
Windspeaker Staff
Volume: 
30
Issue: 
3
Year: 
2012

The Ottawa Citizen reports that Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, is telling Canada that it needs “to drop its ‘self-righteous’ attitude’” and start dealing with the issue of food insecurity. De Schutter took 11 days to uncover Canada’s dirty little secret, journeying to the county’s poor urban areas and remote Aboriginal communities. He said people in the inner-city told him they can’t afford to feed their children, and Aboriginal people are living in “very desperate conditions” and “extremely dire straits. This was De Schutter’s first report on a developed country and the federal government was none too pleased to have him traipsing about the place. He was snubbed by Cabinet for the most part, except for Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who spoke in the House of Commons about her meeting with the special rapporteur. She told the House that Indigenous people in Canada don’t face food security issues because “they hunt every day” and she dismissed De Schutter’s report, saying he was an “ill-informed academic.” But Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo said he was grateful for the light shed on the problem of food security for First Nations people. In a press release the AFN pinpointed some of De Schutter’s concerns. It said De Schutter called for a reform of the Nutrition North Canada program that subsidizes retailers to serve remote communities. He called for a structural approach to tackling the socio-economic and cultural barriers to opportunities for those living on reserves and their right to adequate food. And he said the federal government and the provinces do not consider that they have a responsibility to support off-reserve Aboriginal peoples in overcoming structural discrimination. The AFN is calling for the development of a National Food Policy reflective of First Nation traditions and values; improved access to affordable and nutritious foods, including addressing rising costs in the North by implementing price regulations for staple foods such as milk and bread; the development and implementation of a national school nutrition program; and protection of the environment to ensure the safety of traditional food sources.

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