Ottawa business donates 3,000 menstrual cups to Nunavut

Nunavummiut will soon have better access to reusable menstrual products, thanks to a donation from a southern business. 

Northern Shopper, an online store based in Ottawa that ships goods to Nunavut, has donated 3,000 menstrual cups to the territory’s Department of Health. 

The silicone cups are a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to pads and tampons. 

“Of course it makes me proud,” said Patrick Watson, general manager of Northern Shopper. “This is just one of many efforts that we’re making to show Nunavut that we’re there with them even though we’re down in Ottawa.” 

He said Kit MacKinnon, founder of Northern Shopper, spearheaded the donation after learning that some people in Nunavut have had to go without menstrual products due to high costs or lack of access. 

The more we talk about these kinds of more taboo subjects, the more people are open to discussing them further. –  Sarah MacRury, public health nurse consultant, Government of Nunavut

“We know that this isn’t the solution but we hope that it’s one of many solutions for really a complicated problem in addressing women’s equality and levelling the playing field in sports, careers and school for women living and working in Nunavut.” 

Sarah MacRury, a public health nurse consultant for the territory, said she’s never seen menstrual cups for sale in Nunavut, but they can cost between $30 to $40 in the South. While that’s a big cost up front, she said the cups can last for three years if cared for properly. 

“We were super excited about it,” she said of the donation.

“These are a really good option for many people in our population, anybody struggling with access to menstrual health products.”

Department rolling out distribution

MacRury said Nunavut’s health department is planning on distributing the menstrual cups to community health representatives through a phased approach. Instructions on how to use them have been translated in four languages. 

“We wanted to make it as accessible as possible,” she said. “We want to make sure the people who are really interested in them will be the ones accessing them.” 

Menstrual cups will be distributed to health centres and schools in Nunavut in 2020. (Nick Murray/CBC )

Health representatives in the Kitikmeot region have already been trained on how to use and care for the cups. There are plans to train representatives and distribute the products to health centres in the Kivalliq and Qikiqtaaluk regions in the new year. MacRury said some schools have also requested the products. 

“They can be a bit stigmatized at times but it’s something that the more we talk about menstrual health, the more we talk about these kinds of more taboo subjects, the more people are open to discussing them further.”

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