Northern Hunger Games

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Friends, it is good to see concerned leaders like former premier Stephen Kakfwi link their times at residential school to present day problems.

Anyone who has been to these dread colonialist places well recalls one of the more awful parts of it all, the food, or rather lack of it.

A sadder fact is that society as such doesn’t pay much attention to what the Indians have to say, even when pointed out by professional researchers like University of Toronto’s Tracey Galloway.

Her study, ‘Hunger was never absent’, brings to mind some of what Mr. Kakfwi has to say. Much of what got given to eat was the same, day in day out, for months.

Porridge in the morning, with stale, watery milk and dry bread, overcooked fish or tasteless meat. Children actually threw up, sitting to their meals.

We simply don’t want to know, for instance, that today 1 in 4 children in the more remote communities are more likely to have diabetes, because of the lack of good food choices.

As it is, most families will cook a more traditional meal – when available – for themselves and Mola Bere, or white man’s food, for the children.

One of the sobering memories from visits with our southern Denih relatives, the Navajo, was seeing that telltale, empty look in the eyes of the younger ones, from malnutrition.

There are places so remote on the Big Navajo Reservation that when the snow really piles up in the middle of winter, these people will not have any food, period, unless some kind-hearted soul arranges to bring out a truckload of groceries to them.

When I pointed out the problem of children drinking soda pop rather than water, for instance, it got pointed out that poverty itself, not having the money to make healthy choices, forces this grim situation.

We need more people in positions of responsibility to heed Stephen Kakfwi’s words, and take an honest look at the cupboards in an average Indigenous home, to turn these Northern Hunger Games around.

Mahsi, thank you.