Is there room in Nunavut’s sharing economy to sell traditional food? This Iqaluit chef thinks so

What would it glance like if you could invest in maktaaq, muskox and seal meat at the grocery shop?

Sheila Flaherty now understands — she noticed it for herself in Nuuk, Greenland, back in 2019.

The Iqaluit chef and former town councillor recollects searching traditional Inuit foodstuff at the hunters’ current market in Nuuk, where the catch of the day would be laid out on stainless steel tables. It truly is accessible at the grocery outlets and is served in eating places.

It can be a memory that is trapped with her around the yrs, and something she’d adore to see turn into a lasting actuality in her group.

“The dining places here in Iqaluit, at the very least, there may be char, there might be caribou. But surely in Nuuk, what I discovered is a greater embrace of the complete spectrum of Inuit meals,” she explained.

The reaction, when she posted the thought to Facebook, was blended — traditionally, a lot of Indigenous hunters share their harvest in its place of selling it. Flaherty — who owns sijjakkut, a small business that specializes in Inuit dishes, with her spouse — does that too, offering absent fish heads when she has also lots of to use in her cooking.

“With the expense of searching and harvesting, to acquire instantly from a harvester, it may well aid the hunter and harvester with bullets, with gas … or purchasing grocery meals to support feed his or her relatives,” she claimed.

“Why are unable to we have both equally, and rejoice both equally, and actually generate a new variety of financial system dependent on classic Inuit cultural practices?”

Is there room in Nunavut’s sharing economy to sell traditional food? This Iqaluit chef thinks so
At the Kalaaliaraq market place in Nuuk, Greenland, traditional Inuit food items is displayed for invest in on tables. (Matisse Harvey/Radio-Canada)

Decolonizing cuisine

In Greenland, the vast availability of regular foodstuff for sale has assisted in a way to decolonize cuisine, claims Minik Stenskov, a waiter at the Sarfalik restaurant in Nuuk.

Stenskov, who is from Narsaq in Greenland, said serving nation food items demands cooks to have a deep know-how about the animals and plants of Greenland and how they transform with the seasons.

The menu at Sarfalik variations each individual three or four months, he described, dependent on the time of 12 months.

“For case in point, appropriate now the muskox is coming into period, alongside with the lumpfish roes. So those people suitable now will be coming shortly, and we are going to have all those a lot more in our menu,” he reported.

After the snow starts off to melt, herbs and berries will appear into year as well and the menu will transform to reflect that.

“It really is incredibly pleasurable, and it would make us proud that we can serve our own food stuff to international people and be ready to present what we try to eat,” he claimed.

Minik Stenskov is a waiter at the Sarfalik cafe in Nuuk, Greenland. (Matisse Harvey/Radio-Canada)

Tina Karlsen is one particular of eight cooks at the cafe and the only one particular from Greenland. Her non-Greenlandic colleagues frequently question about the flavor of many substances as they put alongside one another the menus.

“They want to have our views, what we think about the flavor … then they try out and make it, experiment, then quickly it is a dish — awesome dish,” she said.

Because the restaurant serves an intercontinental crowd, Karlsen explained they also develop non-Greenlandic dishes. But they usually try to preserve some neighborhood dishes on the menu.

Tina Karlsen is one particular of 8 chefs at the Sarfalik restaurant in Nuuk, Greenland. (Matisse Harvey/Radio-Canada)

Issues persist

Flaherty is aware of that introducing anything equivalent in Iqaluit would occur with its own worries, specially logistical ones.

Maintaining plenty of foods stocked for a standard common menu would be no quick feat, she mentioned — it would involve a potent community with communities throughout Nunavut.

“If we had been to have a cafe, as an illustration, and seal meat is on the menu every working day, that’s a great deal of seals that need to have to be harvested,” she stated.

She remembers operating with the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Affiliation to make seal sliders on bannock buns for Nunavut Day again in 2017. When she calculated how substantially meat she would need, it labored out to about 80 lbs ..

“If you’ve got ever found a seal staying butchered — in particular compact seals — they rarely have any meat,” she said.

They pulled it off many thanks to the association’s territory-vast connections, making 500 seal sliders for the celebration, and Flaherty mentioned she began to see people submitting on social media generating their possess seal delicacies just after that.

“It was a massive accomplishment,” she claimed.

Looking in advance, her vision for sijjakkut is to ultimately put the concepts she obtained from Nuuk into practise, celebrating Inuit food items in a daring way.

“Our most important emphasis is to preserve and safeguard and boost Inuit cultural tactics and showcasing harvested Inuit foods on menus,” she reported.

“I am so encouraged by my time in Nuuk.”