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Northern foods are now on the plate in Canada’s new food guide

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Northern foods are finding a place on the menu in Canada’s new food guide, including whale, seal and berries.

The last time the food guide was updated in 2007, there was a specific guide that suggested foods for Inuit, First Nations and Métis — now there’s one food guide for all Canadians and more resources are coming.   

The guide, released last week, acknowledges barriers northerners might have to getting healthy food.

It doesn’t propose solutions, but Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, a spokesperson for Health Canada, says the guide helps direct government policy, so it can be seen as a call to action.

Health Canada is working on developing policy and resources with Indigenous groups on issues, like food security, with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Assembly of First Nations and the Métis National Council.

Canada’s Food Guide suggests half of a person’s plate should be dedicated to plants, something that can be hard to do in the North. Arctic char appears as a suggestion in the protein section of the plate. (Health Canada)

The guide makes suggestions on not just what to eat, but how to eat it. It encourages people to be mindful when they eat, and to cook and eat meals with others. Hutchinson said that is already common knowledge in the North.

“It struck me that when I was in Yellowknife … this wasn’t anything new for the people we were meeting,” he said.

Dr. Hasan Hutchinson is the director general of Health Canada’s office of nutrition policy and promotion, health products and food branch. (Submitted by Health Canada)

The recommendations are for all Canadians, Hutchinson said, but his team worked to make sure the North is visible on the “snapshot” plate — the main visual representation of the food guide — as well.

“It sounds like I’m just doing lip service here when I say this, but you know there is Arctic char that’s on that particular plate,” he said.

Indigenous context is also part of the 62-page guidelines that accompany the picture of the plate.

It mentions how hard it can be to hunt or access traditional foods for a variety of reasons, including cultural disconnect caused by the residential school system. It also says eating traditional food is healthy, even if all you can get is a small amount.

To address the high cost of groceries in the North, canned or frozen vegetables are recommended.

But some in the North are still unsure if the recommendations — a major focus on vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins — are realistic in Canada’s remote Arctic and Subarctic communities.

$25 vegetables remain

For Chris King, who grew up in in the Philippines, eating in the North can be frustrating.

At home bok choy, one of his go-to foods, was less than 50 cents. In Norman Wells, N.W.T., a bunch costs him $25, he says.

“There are [a] few things that can be good when frozen, but not all of it,” he said over Facebook messenger.

King is the chef at the Heritage Hotel’s restaurant and says this can make it a challenge to feed the town healthy meals.

(Priscilla Hwang/CBC)

“We still can’t … serve a lot of vegetables on our menu or daily specials because we can’t stock a lot of fresh vegetables,” he said, adding that using vegetables raises the price of his meals.

Lloyd Chicot, chief of Kakisa, N.W.T., said people in the community have gravitated toward store-bought food in recent years, and he’s seen high rates of diabetes. He said that led to a wake-up call. 

“We’ve had a lot of education,” he said, which has resulted in an increased focus on healthy and traditional eating.

People aren’t used to plant-based proteins: chief

He says berries are plentiful in his community, and the hamlet has started community gardens. Many in Kakisa eat lean protein like fish, wild game, and chicken.  

Chicot says his community may be trepidatious about the guide’s suggestion to eat plant-based proteins. 

“Things like lentils and that kind of stuff — people are not really used to it,” he said. “The older people … won’t know what it is.”

One dietician with experience in the North says the images shared by Health Canada reflect the rise of plant-based proteins in the South, but acknowledges it may not reflect the best way for people in the North to get their protein.

“You by no means have to eat them,” said Meghan Scott, who recently left Inuvik for Southern Ontario.

“In Northern contexts, where animal protein is traditional and available and enjoyed … if zero plant protein is eaten that’s fine.”   

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Ottawa Book Expo 2020 – Authors, Publishers look forward to a top-notch Canadian book fair

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Diversity has always been a complex issue, no matter where you look.Case in point, world-famous writer, Stephen King, has recently come under criticism for his views on diversity. The best-selling author had stated, “I would never consider diversity in matters of art, only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” Many criticized the novelist as being out of touch and “ignorant,” but one cannot deny that King’s opinions on diversity, mirror the thoughts of a whole lot of people in the creative industry.

The Toronto Book Expo is coming back in 2020, with a multi-cultural concept that aims to include marginalized authors.  The Expo intends to celebrate literary works of diverse cultural backgrounds, and the entire literary community in Canada is expectant. Book-lovers and writers alike, are invited to three days of uninhibited literary celebration where diverse cultural works will be prioritized. At the event, authors will be allowed to share their culture with a broad audience. The audience will be there specifically to purchase multi-cultural works.

Multicultural literary expos do not come every day. In Canada, there is a noticeable lack of literary events celebrating other cultures. This leads to a significantly lower amount of cultural diversity in the industry. The Toronto Book Expo would aim at giving more recognition to these marginalized voices. Understandably, more recognizable work will be prioritized.

The Toronto Book Expo is making a statement that diversity is needed in the literary community. The statement is truly motivating, especially if you consider the fact that this could mean more culturally diverse works of literature.

There is a lot of noticeable cultural ignorance in literature. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and books are one of the best means of improving multi-cultural diversity in literature. The Toronto Book Expo is going to fully utilize books to fight ignorance in the literary industry.

Real progress cannot be made if there is a substantial amount of ignorant people in the industry. In spite of advancements made in education in recent years, there is still a considerable percentage of adults who remain unable to read and write.The Toronto Book Expo aims to bring awareness to social literacy issues such as illiteracy.

It is important to uphold high literacy levels in the community and to support those who are uneducated. A thriving society cannot be achieved if the community is not able to read their civil liberties and write down their grievances.

The major foundation of a working and dynamic society is entrenched in literature. Literature offers us an understandingof the changes being made to our community.

The event would go on for three days at three different venues. Day 1 would hold at the York University Student & Convention Centre at 15 Library Lane on March 19. Day 2 would be held at the Bram and BlumaAppel Salon Facility on the second floor of the main Toronto Reference Library near Yonge and Bloor Streets in downtown Toronto on March 21 and day 3 of the expo would take place at the internationally famous Roy Thomson Hall.

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A Week In Ottawa, ON, On A $75,300 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.Attention, Canadians! We’re featuring Money Diaries from across Canada on a regular basis, and we want to hear from you. Submit your Money Diary here.Today: a biologist working in government who makes $75,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bathing suit. Occupation: Biologist
Industry: Government
Age: 27
Location: Ottawa, ON
Salary: $75,300
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,930
Gender Identity: Woman

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Ottawa doctor pens nursery rhyme to teach proper handwashing

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An Ottawa doctor has turned to song to teach kids — and adults, for that matter — how to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs.

Dr. Nisha Thampi, an infectious disease physician at CHEO, the area’s children’s hospital, created a video set to the tune of Frère Jacques and featuring the six-step handwashing method recommended by the World Health Organization.

Thampi’s 25-second rendition, which was co-authored by her daughter and Dr. Yves Longtin, an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, is featured in the December issue of The BMJ, or British Medical Journal. 

Thampi said as an infectious disease physician and a mother of two, she thinks a lot about germs at home and school.

“I was trying to find a fun way to remember the stuff,” she said. “There are six steps that have been codified by the World Health Organization, but they’re complex and hard to remember.” 

Thampi said she came up with the idea to rewrite the lyrics to the nursery rhyme on World Hand Hygiene Day in May, when she was thinking about how to help people remember the technique. 

She said studies have shown that handwashing is effective in reducing the risk of diarrhea-related illnesses and respiratory diseases. 

“So I’d say it’s one of the most important and easiest things we can do.”

The video includes such often-overlooked steps as “wash the back,” “twirl the tips around” and “thumb attack,” which pays special attention to the first digit.

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