The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, arrived in Winnipeg May 11, 2012.
De Schutter, a Harvard-educated human rights lawyer who investigates and makes recommendations on food issues, is in the midst of an 11-day cross Canada visit to examine: rising food bank use, whether all Canadians have "adequate, accessible and affordable" sustenance, and the need for national Canadian food policies.
"Having the UN Special Rapporteur come to Winnipeg to discuss the right to food among Canadians is an honour," said Jasmine Tara, Winnipeg North End Food Security Network Coordinator.
In addition to Winnipeg De Schutter will visit Sagkeeng First Nation, God's River First Nation, Garden Hill reserve, as well as fly over the Lake St. Martin area, where prolonged flooding has forced the evacuation of hundreds of reserve residents.
"What the rapporteur is going to see is a transition phase where we're relying less on a traditional diet and more on processed, less healthy food. Where I come from at Pine Creek First Nation, there are no fish left in the lake and there is no moose to hunt on the mountain. We have to make our purchases at the grocery store just like everyone else," said Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.
MKO Cree Northern Grand Chief David Harper said he hopes the envoy will get a feel for the high cost of groceries. Groceries in remote Northern community stores cost at least twice as much as in Winnipeg.
"Challenges remain to ensure that food is adequate, accessible and affordable for marginalized groups, be they poor urban populations or Aboriginal peoples," De Schutter said.
View May 11, 2012 Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs press release
View May 11, 2012 Winnipeg Free Press coverage
View May 11, 2012 Winnipeg Sun coverage
View May 4, 2012 Montreal Gazette coverage
View April 26, 2012 Winnipeg Free Press coverage
View United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
View May 17, 2012 Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources article
Winnipeg Free Press, Montreal Gazette