Return to the land: Northwest Saskatchewan food insecurity highlighted by coronavirus crisis

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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 1.

Knowing the spread of the novel coronavirus was forcing the communities of northwest Saskatchewan into lockdown, Rick Laliberte sent his son south on a grocery run.

With the Beauval General Store — the only store in the region of about 15,000 people that has a bakery and butcher department — closed for cleaning because an employee had COVID-19, its local competitor, the Beauval Northern Store, was selling out of essentials fast.

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“The bread and milk disappeared off those shelves immediately,” Laliberte said.

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He didn’t expect to see his son return home shortly after leaving on the errand on May 1.

What’s more, he didn’t expect him to have a $2,800 ticket for trying to pass one of the provincially-manned checkpoints that,

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