Food Insecurity: Current Problems

Food Insecurity Strategies

October 21, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment Study

Assembly of First Nations – Built on collaborative research with 92 First Nations across the country – 7,000 participants over 10 years – the FNFNES highlights that traditional foods remain foundational to First Nations’ health and well-being, and that the quality of traditional food is superior to store bought food. However, due to environmental degradation, socioeconomic, systemic and regulatory barriers, many First Nations face three to five times the rate of food insecurity than the Canadian population overall. Families with children are affected to an even greater degree.

The FNFNES partners urge decision-makers to use the key findings and recommendations, being released the week after World Food Day, to inform policies and programs to address First Nations food insecurity and sovereignty.

The six primary recommendations are:

  1. Support initiatives promoting First Nations rights, sovereignty, self-determination, values and culture.
  2. Prioritize protecting the environment, First Nations lands, waters and territories.\
  3. Build capacity to eliminate barriers to proper nutrition, reducing food insecurity.
  4. Improve partnerships, collaboration and communication between First Nations and all levels of government, as well as partnerships between First Nations to support sharing information about food, nutrition and the environment.
  5. Support continuing research, education and public awareness.
  6. Create a First Nations-led joint national task force or committee to plan how to implement these recommendations.

“For First Nations, traditional food represents much more than nutrition, it plays important cultural, spiritual and ceremonial roles. There is an urgent need to address systemic problems and barriers relating to First Nations food systems, security and sovereignty in a way that honours First Nations knowledge, leadership and rights. New programs, policies and legislation must be created to protect the environment from further degradation and ensure that First Nations have access to a healthy diet, including traditional food,” says AFN Senior Director of Environment Lands and Water and FNFNES Principal Investigator Tonio Sadik.

Now complete, the FNFNES identified areas needing further study. Its core partners are collaborating on another multi-year research project called the Food, Environment, Health and Nutrition of First Nations Children and Youth (FEHNCY) study. Like the FNFNES, this study is being funded by Indigenous Services Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.

July 12, 2021


The Inuit Nunangat Food Security Strategy

Inuit Tapariit Kanatami – The “Inuit Nunangat Food Security Strategy” (INFSS) identifies drivers of food insecurity that are common to all regions of Inuit Nunangat. It sets out the coordinated actions required to address the interrelated drivers of food insecurity, such as:

  • Poverty
  • high living costs
  • climate change, and
  • contaminants.

The INFSS calls for actions to strengthen Inuit control over the governance of our food system through national policies, programs, and initiatives that provide direct supports for the local and regional Inuit-driven initiatives that are can make a difference. Furthermore, the Strategy identifies ways to support the development of an Inuit Nunangat food system that more closely reflects the realities and priorities of Inuit communities.

The Inuit Nunangat Food Security Strategy (INFSS) advances Inuit-driven solutions for improving food security and creating a sustainable food system in Inuit Nunangat. Our vision is to end hunger and support Inuit food sovereignty throughout Inuit Nunangat by helping to develop a sustainable food system that reflects our societal values, supports our well-being, and ensures our access to affordable, nutritious, safe, and culturally preferred foods.

The high prevalence of food insecurity among Inuit is among the longest lasting public health crises faced by a Canadian population. Moreover, Inuit face the highest documented prevalence of food insecurity of any Indigenous people living in a developed country. This crisis not only reflects the significant challenges experienced within our food system but also the gravity of compounding social and health inequities that persist among our people.

Multiple interrelated factors including poverty, high cost of living, climate change, inadequate infrastructure, intergenerational trauma, and systemic racism contribute to Inuit food insecurity.

  • Governments must take action to end this crisis by partnering with Inuit to improve food security in Inuit Nunangat. Action and investments are needed to support harvesting activities and Inuit wildlife management decision-making
  • subsidize and regulate food transportation
  • support regional food production through the development of local food markets
  • develop effective public policy initiatives, food security programs, and interventions

Partnerships between Inuit, governments, and research institutions are necessary to monitor the effectiveness and impacts of such measures, protect our health from contaminants, and support the development of new initiatives focused on the most vulnerable members of our society.

Ambitious and coordinated action within the following five priority areas is necessary to address the drivers of food insecurity:

  • research and advocacy;
  • food system and well-being;
  • legislation and policy;
  • programs and services; and
  • knowledge and skills.

The INFSS identifies objectives and actions within each priority area that must be advanced by Inuit in partnership with governments, academic institutions, and other partners.