Tuesday 6
Resilience at the margin 1
G. Kofinas
› 11:35 - 12:30 (55min)
› JOFFRE 1-2
Food Security in the Canadian North
Fikret Berkes  1@  
1 : University of Manitoba
Natural Resources Institute 70 Dysart Road Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2 -  Canada





Food security is one of the areas in which indigenous peoples are at the margin. According to FAO definitions, populations are considered food-insecure when there is limited availability of, or ability to acquire, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate and safe foods on a sustained basis. Paradoxically, for many indigenous groups, food insecurity is manifested not in starvation but in increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases related to poor nutrition. Many indigenous groups around the world share similar problems (Kuhnlein et al. Indigenous Peoples' Food Systems and Well-being, FAO, 2013). Studies of food security in northern Canada provide a case. Indigenous households in Canada experience food insecurity at a rate of about three times higher than non-indigenous households, alongside an increase in nutrition-related diseases. For example, diabetes which was rare among indigenous people until 1940, has now reached epidemic levels in some areas. The apparent drivers of food insecurity are poverty, isolation of northern communities and high cost of store food. However, attempts to subsidize food to northern communities have been ineffectual. Why? Because the underlying drivers of food insecurity are related to the difficulty of access to traditional foods and environmental impacts of pollution, large-scale development projects such as hydroelectric dams, and (more recently) climate change which creates access problems. These impacts have eroded the resilience of traditional food systems without providing alternatives. If the problem is loss of resilience, then solutions are likely to involve ways of building resilience: policies to support re-vitalization of culture, indigenous knowledge and skills, and traditional food systems, along with policies to support the import and use of nutritious non-traditional foods. Given the importance of traditional food systems in the food security and cultural identity of indigenous peoples globally, and the ability to access and control lands and resources that provide these foods, the issue is ultimately political. In Canada and elsewhere, the solutions are not about merely providing cheap food but re-building the resilience of food systems to give indigenous peoples the choice and control over the means of food production.


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