Return to the land: COVID-19 lockdown shows importance of food traditions in northwest Saskatchewan

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Editor’s note: The COVID-19 outbreak in northwest Saskatchewan has exposed weaknesses in the region’s fragile food system. In this three-part series, Global News will share what some local leaders, businesses and residents have said about how a month in lockdown without access to southern stores has changed how they think about feeding their communities and their families. This is part 3. Read parts 1 and 2 here.

Knowing it was just a matter of time before the novel coronavirus presented in northwest Saskatchewan, a group of Dene hunters and trappers from English River First Nation began gathering wild meat in March.

Although there were no COVID-19 cases being reported in the region, “we got on it right away,” said band member Lisa Janvier, who was also working on the regional pandemic response plan. “We were prepped for what was going to happen.”

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The entire community was involved in the harvest, she said. There were three moose and caribou as well as muskrats and fish. Most of the meat was divvied up among the nation’s 200-plus households, with elders the priority.

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