Nutritious and Delicious - James Qitsualik, Abel Tavalok, John Casselman, Bronte McPhedran, Kristy Moniz, Pranab Das, Peter van Coeverden de Groot, Iris Koch, Derek Muir, Stephan Schott & Virginia K. Walker
9:30 AM, Sunday 6 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
Sherbrooke Pavilion (SH) - SH-2580
Fish have been an important source of nutrition for generations of Inuit living along the shores of the lower Northwest Passage. Today, iqaluk, or Arctic char, not only represent part of a cultural integrity but offer the prospect of enhancing employment and food security. To this end community leaders, elders and youth are investigating the possibility of a commercial fishery for Gjoa Haven in collaboration with a large-scale Genome Canada-supported project, “Towards a Sustainable Fishery for Nunavummiut” (TSFN). Key to future marketing of this resource, either locally or across the territorial boundaries is the assurance that the fish are healthy as well as safe to eat. We have assayed Arctic char for contaminants including mercury and other metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and parasites, and in addition, have subjected pooled samples from different fishing sites for nutritional analysis. We are pleased to report that char from all examined traditional subsistence fishing sites have tested low for mercury and PCB contamination in every age class (8-33 years old). Overall, “Gjoa Haven char” is an excellent source of vitamin D, crucially important for strong bones in young children and at levels sufficient to prevent rickets, which is a concern because of its prevalence in Nunavut. The distribution of this country food within the community and more widely, based on a fair return for fishers, would thus be welcomed, both for the local economy and for community wellness.