Cultivating Food Sovereignty and Sustainable Food Systems in the North: A Review and Recommendations

Cultivating Food Sovereignty and Sustainable Food Systems in the North: A Review and Recommendations
Friday, July 19, 2019 - 1:42pm


In 2018, Indigenous and Northern Affairs (now Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada), on behalf of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, posted a call for a study on the current state of Northern Food Systems. The purpose of the study was to review existing literature on Northern Food Systems and to develop a series of recommendations for how the federal government could better support the development of sustainable and resilient food systems in the North. Responding to the call, Food Secure Canada put together a team of academic and community partners to undertake the research and produce a final report. 

Following the completion of the project, the authors produced a Summary Report which synthesizes the key findings and recommendations from the study: Cultivating Food Sovereignty and Sustainable Food Systems in the North: A Review and Recommendations. The Summary Report provides an overview of the key challenges and opportunities facing Northern food systems, and outlines strategies to better position federal policies and programs to support the cultivation of more robust and sustainable food systems in the North.  

The report argues that any attempts to strengthen Northern food systems and address food insecurity must be rooted in community, enabled by Indigenous knowledge, and paired with Northern-focused economic development strategies. Every region has its own unique context and there is no “one size fits all” approach. 




Suggested citation

Wilson, A., Levkoe, C.Z., Andree, P., Blay-Palmer, A., Boulet, A., Brockington, M., Ferguson, R., Galloway, T., Martin, D., Martorell, H., Robidoux, M., Skinner, K., Spring, A., Wesche, S. 2019. Cultivating Food Sovereignty and Sustainable Food Systems in the North: A Review and Recommendations. Montreal, Quebec: Food Secure Canada. Pp. 16.


What do we mean by the North?

For the purposes of this study, the focus was on the three territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) and the negotiated land claim regions of Inuit Nunangat (Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut). This geographical delineation was based on the terms of reference from the funder, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. We recognize that the North can also be defined to include the Northern regions of provinces – many of whom experience similar challenges to those identified in this report. It is also important to note that Indigenous Food Systems are not exclusive to the North (however defined), as Indigenous communities exist across Turtle Island in both Southern and Northern regions. 


There are many individuals and organizations who contributed to this research.  We would like to thank the following organizations who assisted in the data collection and provided valuable input into the policy recommendations and overall analysis: the Arctic Institute of Community Based Research (AICBR), Ecology North, Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI) and Econometrics Research Limited. We are also grateful to the input provided by members of National Indigenous Economic Development Board on a draft version of the policy recommendations. Finally, we would also like to thank all the Northerners who participated in the research and shared their valuable insights and expertise drawn from their lived experience in building, strengthening and re-imagining Northern sustainable food systems. 


This document is the result of a collaborative research project, produced under tight time constraints (less than 6 months). While the writing and research teams and community partners have had an opportunity to review and correct the various drafts, the entire text is not necessarily endorsed by all the contributors, nor all the members of Food Secure Canada.  We trust it is nonetheless a valuable contribution to the knowledge on opportunities and challenges in Northern food systems. 

A copy of the full study and associated peer reviewed articles are available upon request. 


For more information, please contact the study’s corresponding authors:

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