FSC launches initiative to advance Indigenous and Black food sovereignties

Planning for food sovereignty: Co-creating a path forward

The Canadian Food Movement is at a crossroads. Activism around food system issues has traditionally been white-led, underrepresenting the priorities and leadership of Indigenous, Black, and racialized communities who continue to be on the frontlines of systemic inequities in our food system. This has resulted in a lack of access to important self-determined resources, infrastructure, and support systems that can bolster food sovereignty and resilience for these communities.

In August 2022, in response to guidance from Food Secure Canada’s (FSC) Black and Indigenous Board members, FSC decided to partner with the People’s Food Institute (PFI) to secure funding from the Walmart Foundation to launch the Indigenous and Black Peoples’ Food Sovereignty Planning Initiative (IBPFS). This one-year planning-focused initiative seeks to move away from funder-driven, project-based outcomes to build and strengthen relationships among Black and Indigenous leaders in order to:

  1. Inform and strengthen established and emerging community-led plans and actions to advance food sovereignty;
  2. Build relationships across communities and contexts to shore up networks and identify core challenges and actionable opportunities to advance food sovereignty; 
  3. Harness and share cross-cultural knowledge and strategies to facilitate capacity and increase access to resources for the most disenfranchised communities in our food systems. 

FSC is working to convene Indigenous and Black food sovereignty leaders from across Turtle Island, virtually and in-person, to initiate community-defined planning processes. 

Activities that will take place over the coming year include:

  • Producing a network map of the food movement, focusing on the “hidden” work of Indigenous peoples, Black, and racialized communities. 
  • The co-creation of Indigenous food sovereignty (IFS) plans to enable Indigenous colleagues to work on a process to gather various perspectives from coast to coast to coast to enhance their collective food sovereignty work. 
  • The co-creation of Black food sovereignty (BFS) plans to enable Black colleagues to work on a process to gather various perspectives from coast to coast to coast to enhance their collective work on Black food sovereignty. 
  • Gatherings to share and develop strategies to strengthen BFS and IFS through social innovation, including bi-lingual events and the translation of results. 
  • Regional consultations with Black and Indigenous members of the food movement in Canada to share and potentially scale their respective community-led and place-based works and, where appropriate, to explore regional and national work together. 
  • Support, via honoraria, contracts or regrants, for organizations and leaders of the respective Black food sovereignty and Indigenous food sovereignty movements to lead engagement and networking, including ceremony, gifting, and other culturally appropriate practices that should be respected and resourced.
  • Engagement of Black and Indigenous organizations and funders and philanthropic organizations to better understand barriers and challenges with existing funding structures; and best practice approaches to improve direct access to funding for Black, Indigenous, and racialized movement leaders and initiatives. 
  • Cross-cultural learning opportunities to continue to understand, embed and enhance capacity to work in “ethical space” across all FSC and PFI work.

As an organization we recognize that part of the struggle toward food sovereignty for Indigenous and Black communities is the autonomy to choose where and how resources are allocated for work that affects them. To advance this goal, this project will be governed by a steering committee of Black and Indigenous leaders who will develop guiding principles for ongoing Indigenous and Black food sovereignty work, such as organizational co-governance, self-determination, prioritizing relationship building, flexibility and creativity. Co-created governance models, which embody the approaches of ethical space, and “nothing about us without us”, will also guide the two streams of work on Indigenous food sovereignty and Black food sovereignty.

This initiative hopes to contribute to shifting power dynamics and learning on how to address structural and systemic barriers that undermine and prevent Black and Indigenous communities from realizing improved health, well-being and food sovereignty; while also supporting actions to build toward these outcomes.

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to be involved with this initiative, please contact Project Lead, Communities Convenor, Afua Asantewaa at communitiesconvenor@foodsecurecanada.org.