Artwork by Garth Laidlaw

Episode 2: The City

This episode takes a look at what life is like in the world outside of Haven. Without the means to produce enough fresh food, Outsiders pay a premium for the fruits and vegetables exported by Haven. Most people are living off of the processed, but affordable Real Meals. Desperate, two teens join a rebel group planning to steal food from the heavily guarded market where Haven is making a drop off.

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According to the 2020 PROOF report, drawing on data from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey conducted in 2017 and 2018, 12.7% of all Canadian households had experienced food insecurity in the previous 12 months. In comparison, the following proportions of northern populations experienced food insecurity during the same time period:

  • 57.0% of households in Nunavut;
  • 21.6% of households in the Northwest Territories; and
  • 16.9% of households in the Yukon.

This is partially due to higher food costs in these locations. High food prices in Canada's north are caused by a number of reasons, including higher costs of transportation, unreliability of food availability, and low puchasing power due to smaller populations and fewer grocery stores. A family in northern Canada would pay around double what a family in southern Canada would for the same amount and type of food!

Learn more:

Tarasuk, Valerie, and Andy Mitchell. Household food insecurity in Canada, 2017-18. Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF), 2020. Retrieved from Accessed on June 17, 2020.

Veeraraghavan, G., et. al. Paying for Nutrition: A Report on Food Costing in the North. Food Secure Canada, 2016. Retrieved from Accessed on June 17, 2020.


SOUND: The sounds of water lapping against a shoreline slowly fade in. The calls and sounds of birds follow. Wind starts to rustle through the trees. Footsteps approach the water. They enter the water. The sounds of the birds, the wind, and the water fade quickly. The soft sound of water going down a drain. It cuts out. 

Silence for a moment. 

The silence is broken by the return of water going down a drain. More and more water rushes toward the drain. The sounds of a car speeds past. The water draining is still clear, but fades under the increasing sounds of cars driving by, people footsteps on pavements, car horns, and indistinct conversations. The sounds of water draining disappears completely. 

Alanna and James stand on the sidewalk waiting for the streetcar. They speak at a slightly hushed volume. 

ALANNA: Okay, one more time. 

JAMES: Yup. We get off two blocks away. 

ALANNA:  We go around the back, down the side streets. We set up in the alley beside the old boarded up convenience store. 

JAMES: From there, we wait for the group to call and give us the go ahead. 

ALANNA: They call and we let the phone ring for six seconds then hang up. And that’s how we know to detonate the smoke bombs...Are you sure you and Katie put them in the right spots?

JAMES: Yes. I double checked. I swear.

ALANNA:  When they go off, we don't run. We stay in the alley and watch for the produce drop-off to happen and leave after that. If anyone approaches us, we're high. Didn't hear anything. If, somehow, we screw it all up-

JAMES: We won’t screw it up! 

ALANNA: If we screw it all up, we call Katie, who's on standby, and she'll meet us at the closest dock with the boat to get us out of there. 

SOUND: The bell of a streetcar breaks through the conversation. Alanna waits for it to stop and climbs on. The sound of Alanna putting her fare in the box. 

DRIVER: Fare prices went up since yesterday. 

ALANNA:  You're joking. 

DRIVER: Nope. Unless you got the difference, you can get lost. Walk. 

JAMES: I got it. 

SOUND: They deposit the extra change. Moving through crowed streetcar. 

 JAMES: Did you buy your ration card this morning? 

ALANNA: Yeah. My mom said she wasn't gonna let me pick at any more of her Real Meals. She had to walk me to the government office herself. 

JAMES: You know, you're probably the only person in the city on hunger strike. 

ALANNA:  It's not real food, why should I have to pay for it? 

JAMES: (laughing) What, you think you're entitled to apples and fruit?

ALANNA:  We should all be entitled to fresh food. 

JAMES:  (to himself) I like Real Meals. 

SOUND: A notification tone sounds from somewhere close. 

JAMES (CONT'D):  Is that you? 

ALANNA: No, different ring. Relax, it's way too early. 

JAMES: Maybe we're not ready to go solo—

ALANNA:  We're not solo, we have each other. 

JAMES: It’s just, we've never done this without supervision. 

ALANNA:  We're supervising ourselves. 

JAMES: That's what I'm worried about. We shouldn't be allowed to supervise anything, not even ourselves. 

ALANNA:  Speak for yourself. 

JAMES: This is our stop. 

SOUND: The streetcar slows to a stop and Alanna and James get out. 

JAMES: Let’s get moving. The alley’s this way. 

SOUND: Alanna and James are silent on the walk to the alley. The sounds and music of the city come into the foreground. Eventually, Alanna and James reach the alley. 

ALANNA: Here. Is anyone looking? 

JAMES: Nope, we're good. 

SOUND: They sneak into the alley beside the abandoned convenience store. 

JAMES (CONT'D):  See the top of the South wall there? That’s where we put a couple of smoke bombs. Just tucked under the roof ledge.

ALANNA: Yeah. Busy day. That's a long line of private cars waiting to get in. 

JAMES: Reg was telling me how the produce they have at the market, the stuff from the Old Vineyards, it doesn't even compare to the Haven Farm produce. He said he saw an onion bigger than his fist! 

ALANNA:  I bet a lot of the people lined up still think Haven doesn’t exist, don’t realize Haven produce is coming back to the city. (Beat) Where did you set the rest of the devices? 

JAMES: Two more along the West wall, one at the North entrance, and three at the East entrance. 

ALANNA:  That'll keep the cops busy for a while. How long is the hand off of the stuff from Haven supposed to take? Did your brother say? 

JAMES: He doesn't know. It's a new client. Reg said more and more people are catching on that better produce is being smuggled into the city, so they are moving more and more product at once. And why this job is on a larger scale than usual. 

ALANNA:  (Scoffs) “Larger scale?” What we’re doing this time is considered terrorism. 

JAMES: Reg doesn't want any chance of the cops making a surprise appearance when the hand off happens. 

ALANNA:  There will be zero chance of the cops showing up way over there. Every officer in the city will be coming down to protect the market. And even if they figure it out—there’s no way they’ll get across the city in time to stop it. 

JAMES: This is crazy. Crazy for a bunch of different reasons. (Beat) What's that old cookbook you have that's all about local food? You know, the one that talks about the importance of farmer's markets? 

ALANNA:  100 Recipes That Support Your Local Farmers? 

JAMES: Yeah, that one. I don't believe anything it says. 

ALANNA:  What specifically? 

JAMES:  The things about Farmer's Markets. I can't imagine the market being an actual place you could just waltz into, with no entry fee. 

ALANNA:  I find it hard to believe, too. The only fresh food I've ever eaten has been the vegetables as my tip for doing this. Before I didn’t even know what a pepper looked like. 

JAMES: But you believe that less than a hundred years ago, things were exactly like what it says in that book? 

ALANNA:  You see those big panels along the East wall there? 

JAMES: Yeah. Why?

ALANNA: The bricks in those panels are a different colour than the rest of the wall because they were added after the original market was built. Instead of the Market being one huge building with two guarded entrances, there were doorways everywhere, all long the perimeter. People could just walk in off the street. 

JAMES: You're making that up. 

ALANNA:  I’m not. It might seem strange now, where all we eat are those stupid Real Meals. And the people in Haven eat like that every day of their lives. Is it so impossible to believe that at one point, everyone ate like that? 

(Long pause.) 

JAMES: I met this guy when I was picking up my rations card a few months ago. He was older and was talking to me like we knew each other. He was going on and on about oranges. The way they tasted. 


But that guy doesn't know what he's talking about. The city works. Yeah, it's not perfect. But mostly everyone gets fed. Real Meals are cheap. And oranges cost thousands. And, for what? I can get a Real Meal with orange flavouring and still have enough rations for the rest of the month. 

ALANNA:  Have you ever had an orange? 

JAMES: Yeah, a long time ago. Reg saved me one. 

ALANNA:  And you're saying you prefer the orange flavoured Real Meals?

JAMES: I'm saying I wouldn't pay thousands of dollars for an orange. 

ALANNA:  You shouldn't have to. That's the point. 

SOUND: Phone ringing.

ALANNA (CONT'D):  That's the signal. 

JAMES: (laughing) Are you ready for this? 

ALANNA:  Hell yeah. 

JAMES: Okay. 

SOUND: Detonating the first smoke bomb positioned at the East entrance. There is a pause before a loud boom sounds. Faintly, people screaming. 

ALANNA:  Wow. 

SOUND: Sirens begin to sound. 

JAMES: Next one? 

ALANNA: Okay. 

SOUND: Another boom. Alanna and James take a long pause before speaking. They are scared and this moment shows how young they are. 

ALANNA (CONT'D): Wait. They're just smoke bombs, right? Harmless? 

JAMES: That's what Reg said. Yeah, yeah, see the smoke there?

ALANNA: Yeah. Okay, here we go. 

SOUND: James exhales. Another boom. 

(Another long pause.) 

ALANNA: Should...should we wait a minute before setting the next one? 

JAMES: (unraveling) Yes. No? I don't know. 

ALANNA:  We need to keep the cops here for as long as possible. What should we do? 

JAMES: We'll just set them off at intervals. One minute? 

ALANNA: No, too close together. Oh god. We've been doing them too close together! 

JAMES: Let's go. Alanna, let's go. Let's just set them all off and bail. We just won't tell anyone. It'll be fine, let's go. 

ALANNA:  Why are we freaking out over this?!

JAMES: I'm not freaking out!

POLICE OFFICER: Hey! What are you doing?

JAMES: Oh crap... Uh, just getting high, officer!

ALANNA: (Whispering) James!

POLICE OFFICER: Put your hands up now! Face the wall! No sudden movements-

SOUND: The Police Officer is cut off as James whips around and punches him in the stomach. The air is knocked out of his lungs. Alanna and James book it out of the alley. 

ALANNA: Screw you! 

POLICE OFFICER: Get back here!

JAMES: Call Katie!

SOUND: The sounds of running on pavement as Alanna drags James away from the Police Officer. They sprint down the street. The Police Officer follows, running as well.

ALANNA:  (on the phone with Katie) Katie! Get the boat! We're running! ETA right now! 

KATIE: (muffled, distorted through the phone) I'm there now! 

SOUND: The sounds of Police sirens get louder and the voices of officers jeering after James and Alanna are clear. 

ALANNA: (panting) We're never doing this again! When this is over we're going back to being petty criminals! 

JAMES: Katie!! 

SOUND: The sound of a motorboat and waves sloshing against a concrete wall grow louder. Katie yells over the noise. 

KATIE: They're right behind you! 

JAMES:  Jump! 

SOUND: James and Alanna jump from the dock into the boat. As they fall through the air all the background sound of the boat, the police and their breathing cut away. All that remains is the sound of the water. Alanna and James fall into the boat and all the sounds returns suddenly. 

KATIE: Hold on!

SOUND: The boat rips away. James and Alanna can be heard panting, then laughing in disbelief. 

All the sounds slowly fade out until there is complete silence. 

Water starts to go down the drain again, then cuts out.