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Food insecurity presents a serious and growing challenge in Canada’s northern and remote Aboriginal communities. This is also true of Alaska Native communities. Food insecurity includes contaminated foods and water, restricted access by law from food sources (subsistence restrictions), remote geography, and poor cash economies (for fuel).

We don’t have a comprehensive food assessment yet, although Sitka and a few other localities have completed food security assessments. Sun’aq is currently working on an assessment of fish consumption in the archipelago with aspects of food security included in the questionnaire.

However, a comprehensive food assessment and environmental health analysis is needed for the archipelago. There hasn’t been one. As we mark another anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil disaster, climate change, the 50th anniversary reminder of our integral part of the Pacific Basin, and 75+ years as a military frontier post, we need to know where we are in our home.

In 2011, off-reserve Aboriginal households in Canada were about twice as likely as other Canadian households to be food insecure. Finding lasting solutions will require the involvement not just of policy-makers but of those most affected by food insecurity: people living in the North….

The Expert Panel on the State of Knowledge of Food Security in Northern Canada found that food insecurity among northern Aboriginal peoples requires urgent attention in order to mitigate impacts on health and well-being. Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada: An Assessment of the State of Knowledge offers policy-makers a holistic starting-point for discussion and problem-solving. It also provides evidence and options to researchers and communities engaging in local responses.

Key findings

  • Food security is a complex issue with significant implications for health and wellness.
  • There is a nutrition transition taking place in the rapidly changing North.
  • The concepts of food security and food sovereignty are equally important in understanding the problem and finding effective, multi-sectoral solutions.
  • There is no single experience of food insecurity.
  • There exists a strong body of research and traditional knowledge with respect to food security and northern Aboriginal health, but several knowledge gaps persist.
  • The food security measurement methods used to date have been valuable, but their ability to respond to the complex issue of food security in the northern Canadian Aboriginal context is limited.

The Expert Panel on the State of Knowledge of Food Security in Northern Canada is chaired by Dr. Harriet Kuhnlein, Professor Emerita of Human Nutrition, Founding Director, Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE), McGill University.

Executive Summary (pdf)
What is the state of knowledge of the factors influencing food security in the Canadian North and of the health implications of food insecurity for Northern Aboriginal populations?

Council of Canadian Academies | CCA | Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada: An Assessment of the State of Knowledge -