Limited food vendors means limited cultural diversity

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On a good day, you can expect to see at least 10 to 20 different vendors at an Arctic Market event.

While some come with arts and crafts, many bring with them traditional country foods from around the region, or dishes from countries such as India or the Philippines.

Aaron Hemens is the editor of the Inuvik Drum

The wide variety of foods the market has to offer are a treat for all. It only happens twice a month during the winter season, but we’re fortunate to have it run once a week in the summer.

Food vendors put together meals made from recipes that originate from their respective cultures, which is something that you can’t readily buy from a grocery store. Not only is it nice to a take break from frozen or packaged foods from NorthMart, but it’s a real pleasant experience to be able to explore and taste someone else’s culture.

It’s unfortunate to hear our chief environmental health officer has had a sudden change of heart in interpreting the legislation of the temporary food permit.

Participation in the Arctic Market for food vendors has now been reduced to 14 days per year, and the change immediately had an impact on the market. When the Town of Inuvik shared this notice with the public on their Facebook page on Jan. 29, only two vendors showed up to the Arctic Market on Feb. 2.

There aren’t many food options here in Inuvik to begin with, seeing as there’s only about three or four restaurants here if you include Mackenzie Hotel’s Grill and Shivers Lounge. The Arctic Market creates opportunities to try something new, especially if you’re a fan of homemade cooking or international cuisine.

Not only is the sudden change unfair to food vendors, but it is unfair to all of Inuvik. Limiting the number of opportunities to experience a different culture limits one’s ability to learn more about that culture.

Food lies at the heart of many cultures, and you can get a sense of how people live or what their values are by the traditional foods they cherish.

The Arctic Market is a place where everyone can embrace different tastes from around the world. Not only is this change in the legislation an attack on the market, but it also strips colour from the community. We should be encouraging residents to use this platform to share their foods with community members, rather than limiting their opportunities to do so.

We need the Arctic Market to take culture and diversity out of the homes and into to the forefront of Inuvik’s public eye. With limited food vendors scattered over mixed dates, we are at risk of missing out on all of the wonderful diversity that the community has to offer.

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