Old Crow residents left without a grocery store

The construction of a new co-operative retail store in Old Crow is months behind schedule, leaving residents with few options when it comes to food and supplies.

The construction of a new co-operative retail store in Old Crow is months behind schedule, leaving residents with few options when it comes to food and supplies.

When plans for the store were originally announced in November 2013, the goal was to have it open by July this year.

But one of the eight founding directors now says the opening won’t be for another couple of months.

“The building is under construction and will be completed in the New Year, possibly by March,” said Tracy Rispin in an email.

The Northern store closed recently, anticipating the opening of the co-op.

Now residents of the fly-in community are forced to rely a lot more on food shipped from Whitehorse.

Roger Kyikavichik, recently elected chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, said a local non-profit started selling staples to residents.

“There is some food being sold here, like bread, eggs, sugar and milk,” he said.

“For me it’s been alright but I know that for most people who have children, they find it hard. More people are getting their food from Whitehorse.”

There might be plans for the people behind the co-op to start selling food out of the old Northern store, but that remains to be confirmed, he said.

The idea for the store came about when residents spoke out against the high cost of food in the community.

“The reason we want a co-op store is to decrease the high prices of good food in our community,” said Rispin at the time.

“As you know, we’re an isolated community and we have all our produce and groceries flown in.”

The Northern store used to benefit from the federal Nutrition North program, which subsidizes shipping prices for retailers on healthy foods, but residents said they preferred the older Food Mail program.

That program allowed them to buy their own groceries in Whitehorse and ship them at subsidized rates.

Old Crow residents lobbied to keep the personal shipping subsidy, but it is greatly reduced under the new system.

Under the Nutrition North Canada program, residents pay $0.83 per kilogram in shipping on most nutritious perishable foods, such as fresh fruit, vegetables and meat.

A less subsidized rate – $2.63 per kilogram – applies to other eligible foods, such as flour, crackers and ice cream.

The co-op is being built next to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s maintenance compound.

Contact Myles Dolphin at


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