Indigenous Food Sovereignty

CALL FOR BOOK CHAPTERS. Indigenous Food Sovereignty: Concept, Cases and Conversations

Indigenous food sovereignty is more relevant in the era of reconciliation for First Nations/Metis and Inuit peoples in Canada and North America.  The alarmingly high rate of food insecurity among Indigenous peoples in Canada and resulting poor health and well-being outcomes compares very poorly to the rest of the Canadian population. According to recent available estimates, and 55% of First Nations households as compared to 7.7% of average Canadian households experienced moderate to severe food insecurity (Health Canada, 2012).  There are multiple and complex factors for such disparaging rates of First Nations Food insecurity in Canada. At the same time, the cultural values and Indigenous perspectives on food security has been recognized as an essential pre-requisite for conceptualizing and designing food security issues among Indigenous communities in Canada ((Power, 2008). Food sovereignty, and in particular Indigenous Food Sovereignty challenged the dominant perception and intentions of food security, that emerged as a ‘big-tent’ and multi-faceted concept (Patel, 2009). The semantics and ideological debates between food security and food sovereignty by scholars and practitioners still persists (See a dedicated issue by ‘Dialogues of Human Geography’, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2014). Indigenous food sovereignty, adds another layer of complexity, evolved in Canada (Morrison, 2012) to position and support Indigenous self-determination and reclamation of traditional food systems and cultural identify of Indigenous communities from Canada (Morrison, 2012). A traditional food system is defined as “all food within a particular culture available from local natural resources and culturally accepted. It also includes the socio-cultural meanings, acquisition, processing techniques, use, composition and nutritional consequences for the people using the food” (Kuhnlein & Receveur 1996, p. 418). Largely as a result of Indigenous efforts, Indigenous or traditional foods and associated knowledge systems have been rediscovered by scholars (Kuhnlein 2014), governments (Council of Canadian Academics 2014) and international agencies such as United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO 2013) as a viable strategy to improve well-being and mitigate complex challenges of achieving food and nutritional security for Indigenous communities in Canada and elsewhere.  In this period of reconciliation, therefore, it is imperative to acknowledge and celebrate the role of Indigenous food systems in preserving, nurturing and protecting health and food security of Canadian communities and beyond.

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