Soup kitchen preparations gain momentum in Taloyoak, Nunavut

Taloyoak, Nunavut. “There are a lot of people that do go hungry in our community so it’s very important for our community to be able to have a soup kitchen,” says hamlet Mayor Lenny Panigayak. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

The mayor of Taloyoak, a Nunavut community, reports that the long-awaited soup kitchen project is finally gaining traction following a series of pandemic-induced setbacks.

“We have food insecurity in our community, and the highest food costs in the Kitikmeot Region, so a soup kitchen would help in so many ways,” Lenny Panigayak said. 

“Due to the pandemic, [the project] is behind schedule, but we’re hoping to get it up and going this year.”

Taloyoak is an Inuit community of 934 people in the Kitikmeot Region of the territory. 

Distance, location creates price pressures

Panigayak said the community’s geographical location and demographics pose distinctive challenges, particularly in managing transportation and food expenses, something that exacerbates food insecurity among low-income individuals who can’t afford the expensive equipment needed to hunt and don’t have a harvester in their family. 

(The 2021 Canadian census put Kitikmeot’s population at 6,458, compared to 11,045 in the Kivalliq Region and 19,355 in Qikiqtaaluk Region.)

“We’re the northernmost community on the Canadian mainland, our Kitikmeot Region is the smallest of Nunavut, and [Taloyoak] is the smallest community in [Kitikmeot]. On top of that, jobs here are hard to come by and we have a high unemployment rate, so that all adds up.”

Taloyoak’s hamlet office. Panigayak said the community aims to serve a hot meal at the soup kitchen seven days a week. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

Supplies for the soup kitchen were finally shipped up in 2023, with the hamlet council favorable towards approving additional funding required to complete the project, Panigayak said.

Panigayak says everyone is aware of the great need and has rallied behind the project’s completion.

“The Hamlet Council is definitely in favour of the project,” he said. “There’s a big need in the our community so it’s good to see everyone on the same page.”

Renovations continuing on location 

The opening of the soup kitchen, originally scheduled for this month, has been delayed, but Panigayak said their goal now is to have it up and running later on this year. 

Staffing requirements are still being determined.

The soup kitchen will be located in the old hamlet chambers of the community, which are currently undergoing renovation for the project.

Panigayak says they anticipate serving around 20 people at a time, but will offer additional services if the demand warrants it. 

Comments, tips or story ideas? Contact Eilís at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Nunavut organization calls for more country food and more money to support school food program, CBC News

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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