Indigenous Food Sovereignty at the heart of Food Secure Canada’s 9th Assembly

Press Release - For immediate release.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty at the heart of Food Secure Canada’s 9th Assembly

TORONTO, 11th October 2016 --  Indigenous and Northern food issues  will be at the heart of Food Secure Canada’s (FSC) 9th Assembly: Resetting the Table which convenes from 13th-16th October in Toronto. More than fifty First Nations, Metis and Inuit  participants from diverse geographies and areas of focus, will be among the hundreds of farmers, business people, non-profit organizations, activists, policy makers and academics gathering to unite for policy change grounded in the diverse realities and practices that exist within the rapidly expanding food security movement in Canada. The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Hon Carolyn Bennett, will join the Assembly on World Food Day, October 16th at 11am (location to be announced).

The Trudeau government has committed to both a new national food policy and to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. These commitments can only be kept if the rights of Indigenous peoples to respond to their own needs for adequate amounts of healthy, culturally appropriate foods in the forests, fields and waterways, are fully addressed. This Assembly will work to shape how food systems can be transformed from coast to coast to coast, learning from values like respect, reciprocity, and working in harmony with nature that underlie Indigenous food systems in all of their biological and cultural diversity.

Decolonizing the Table: An evening on Indigenous Food Sovereignty” is the public launch event of the Assembly at 7pm on October 13th.  One of the speakers, Dawn Morrison, Secwepemc from BC, explains “The opening plenary will bring together Indigenous knowledge holders and strategists to  share the ways in which Indigenous nations and communities are working to achieve food sovereignty in the 4th world reality in which we live in a 1st world country like Canada". Anishinaabe writer and comedian Ryan Mahon will MC the event at Ryerson Theatre.

Over the following three days Northern and Indigenous Food Sovereignty issues are woven through the Assembly’s thematic streams. What are the best ways to promote and share Indigenous food related knowledge between generations and cultures? How is climate change worsening food insecurity in the North and how are communities responding? What policy reforms are needed to diminish the gap between the high cost of food in remote and urban communities where Indigenous peoples are over-represented  in some of Canada’s most poverty stricken neighbourhoods.

Following the shocking evidence of high food prices revealed in FSC’s latest research Paying for Nutrition: A Report on Food Costing in the North, the Assembly will explore strategies to address the disparity. According to the report the average cost of healthy groceries for a month in Attawapiskat, James Bay in June 2015 was $1909 compared to $847 in Toronto. Further research from Vancouver’s downtown eastside will bring in the experience of poverty-stricken neighborhoods where Indigenous people are over-represented.

On World Food Day, 16th October, Gwitchin Norma Kassi will be presented with The Cathleen Kneen Award 2016, which recognizes vision, leadership and grassroots activism. Norma Kassi says “It is time indigenous peoples voices were heard and that policy be informed by the realities that communities are living with every day”. Her co-winner is Abra Brynne from rural BC.

Joseph LeBlanc, FSC Board member sums up the challenge “At this time in Canada’s history, we cannot try to fix our food system without tackling the legacy of colonialism and residential schools, and acknowledging the urgency of Indigenous food sovereignty.  Alarming levels of food insecurity, exacerbated by diet-related health issues and the destruction of traditional food sources and indigenous knowledge cannot be repaired by charity. We are here to work with our allies on solutions that will build a more fair and sustainable food system. ”

Food Secure Canada’s 9th Assembly has placed the recognition of dignity and the human rights of Indigenous peoples including, Metis and Inuit,  within the lens of Indigenous food sovereignty at the centre of its deliberations.

Food Secure Canada is offering free media passes to accredited media organizations.

Food Secure Canada would like to thank our partners and our many sponsors, without whom this event would not be possible. 

For more information or for interviews, please contact:

Francois Zeller:

438-401-1733 (cell)

Joseph Leblanc, Food Secure Canada Board member,

705-690-0136 (cell)

Diana Bronson :

514-629-9236 (cell)


Join Resetting the Table, Food Secure Canada’s 9th Assembly (Toronto - October 13-16, 2016).

Affirming Indigenous Food, Land and Culture - Holistic Health and Community Development

Kelly Gordon, Six Nations Health Services; Daniel Kanu, Food Matters Manitoba; Kaylia Marquis, Ieiénthos Akotióhkwa Planting Group – Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project; Nour Attalah, University of Ottawa

This session will highlight projects and programs that are engaging communities in Indigenous food related activities that build on and promote traditional knowledge, wisdom, values, strategies and relationships to the land, plants, and animals. As the most some of the most sustainable adaptation strategies of humanity, the presenters will discuss how Indigenous food, land and cultural heritage can address epidemic proportions of diabetes and other food and lifestyle related illnesses.

Building an Indigenous Food Sovereignty Movement - Past, Present and Future Generations

Tabitha Martens, University of Manitoba; Byron Beardy, Four Arrows Health Authority; Melanie Kurrein, BC Provincial Health Services Authority; Karen Isaac, BC Aboriginal Childcare Society

This session will highlight some strategic research, economic activities, and policy proposals that are increasing the capacity of present and future generations in Indigenous communities to respond to their own needs for healthy, culturally appropriate Indigenous foods. The session explores how the food related research, action and policy proposals are being developed as a means to empower communities to adapt to the present day economic reality, while at the same time as addressing epidemic proportions of food and lifestyle related illnesses.

Intergenerational and Intercultural Exchange of Knowledge to Transform the Food System: Co-Creating Visual Tools Through the Legacies Project

Dianne and Dan Kretschmar, Ryan DeCaire, Fernando Garcia, Grenville Farms; Dawn Morrison, Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty of the British Columbia Food Systems Network;Fulvio Gioanetto, Mexican Agroecology Networks; Deborah Barndt, Lauren Baker, Alexandra Gelis, Legacy Project

The Legacies Project supports the food sovereignty movement by creating intergenerational and intercultural dialogues, in particular between Indigenous and settler communities aiming to decolonize and restore food systems and movements. Join presenters from Ontario, BC and Mexico working on documenting intergenerational projects and relationships, conserving bio-cultural heritage through Indigenous food practices, and reclaiming and reinventing traditional food practices. This workshop will share videos from participating projects and the exchanges among them, to foster broader discussion among workshop participants.

Advancing Food Security in Canada's North

Lauren Goodman, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Gioia Montevecchi, Food First NL; Abel, Juliana Flowers, Regina Dicker, Martha Winters; Norma Kassi, Mary Jane Johnson, Jody Butler Walker, Arctic Institute for Community-based Research

In the north, families face significant challenges accessing healthy and culturally-appropriate food. The issue of northern food insecurity is complicated, with multifaceted dimensions related to climate change, declining traditional food species, high cost of living, geographic isolation, and reliance on market foods. Just as the issue is multidimensional, so too are the strategies to address it. This session will highlight innovative, community-based solutions to advancing food security across Canada's North, while showcasing stories of resilience and strength.

Strategies for Protection, Conservation and Restoration of Indigenous Land, Food and Bio-cultural Heritage

Julian Napoleon, Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty; Martha Stiegman, York University; Sherry Pictou, Bear River First Nation; Tirso Gonzales, Social Policy, Consultant; Larry McDermott, Plenty Canada

This session will feature three presentations on what Indigenous food sovereignty looks like in western Canada. A number of projects and processes will be highlighted with regards to land-based food systems, Indigenous research approaches, and mobilization of knowledge-keepers and Elders to establish more opportunities for sharing ideas and knowledge around Indigenous food sovereignty.

Decolonizing Food Movements: Building Relationships of Solidarity Through Food Sovereignty in Canada 

Dawn Morrison, Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty; Charles Levkoe, Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement; Abra Brynne, British Columbia Food Systems Network; Lauren Kepkiewicz, Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement

What does it mean to decolonize food movements in Canada? Join us as we explore aspects of Indigenous and settler relations in our collective efforts to build just and sustainable land and food systems. Drawing on a collaboration between the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty (WGIFS), the British Columbia Food Systems Network (BCFSN) and the Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement’s Food Sovereignty Hub (CFICE), this session will highlight experiences of decolonizing research and relationships. Participants will be invited to join our discussion about the tensions, challenges, possibilities and strategies for solidarity-based work. Through conversation, we aim to better understand what decolonization looks like, to learn from those currently doing this and to (re)imagine food movements and food systems transformation.

Paying for Nutrition, Poverty, and Indigenous Food Sovereignty in a 4th World Reality

Gigi Veeraraghavan, Fort Albany First Nation; Kristin Burnett, Lakehead University; Joseph LeBlanc, Anishnaabe; Wilson Mendes, Oka Community Planning and Visual Communication/UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems

Many people in northern and Indigenous communities live in 3rd world conditions within a 1st world country of Canada. An overview of the FSC report Paying for Nutrition: Food Costing in the North will be followed by a presentation on the lack of access to healthy food in the poverty stricken neighbourhoods where Indigenous peoples are over-represented. The session will also explore strategies to address the underlying disparities in northern and urban Indigenous communities along the James Bay Coast and Vancouver’s downtown eastside.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the Americas 

Sherry Pictou, Bear River First Nation; Filiberto Penados, Mayan scholar; Michael Sacco, founder of ChocoSol Traders; and students from the New College Belize Program. Moderator: Lori Stahlbrand, University of Toronto

Indigenous peoples across the Americas are struggling with many of the same issues around food sovereignty, heritage foods and spiritual food traditions. They also share many farming, fishing and foraging practices. This panel presents perspectives from Mexico, Central America, and the East Coast of Canada.

Streams to Rivers: Indigenous Inland Fisheries Struggles and the Canadian Food Sovereignty Movement

Presenters: Arthur Bull, The Bay of Fundy Marine Resource Centre; Sherry Pictou, World Forum on Fisher Peoples

How can we connect Indigenous inland fisheries' struggles with the Canadian food sovereignty movement? This session will be a sharing circle aimed at exploring how we can draw upon our past experience to create a space for sharing stories and strategies, and building solidarity between Indigenous inland fishing communities while building alliances with the wider food sovereignty movement. This session will also look at how connecting with international movements, such as the small scale fisheries movement, can help to make this a reality.