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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 99, Issue 2, pp 95–97 | Cite as

Conceptualizing Food Security for Aboriginal People in Canada

  • Elaine M. PowerEmail author
Commentary
  • 4 Downloads

Abstract

Food insecurity is an urgent public health issue for Aboriginal people in Canada because of high rates of poverty; the effects of global climate change and environmental pollution on traditional food systems; and high rates of diet-related diseases. However, to date, public health has operated with conceptualizations of food security that were developed in non-Aboriginal contexts; they do not take full account of the traditional food practices of Aboriginal people or Aboriginal conceptualizations of food security. In this paper, I argue that there are unique food security considerations for Aboriginal people related to the harvesting, sharing and consumption of country or traditional foods, which impact the four pillars of food security: access, availability, supply and utilization. Thus food security conceptualizations, policies, and programs for Aboriginal people must consider both the market food system and traditional food system. Given the centrality of traditional food practices to cultural health and survival, I propose that cultural food security is an additional level of food security beyond individual, household and community levels. Conceptualizations of food security for Aboriginal people will be incomplete without qualitative research to understand Aboriginal perspectives; such research must take account of the diversity of Aboriginal people.

Key words

Native Americans food policy public health 

Résumé

L’insécurité alimentaire est un problème de santé publique urgent chez les Autochtones du Canada en raison de leur taux élevé de pauvreté, des effets du changement climatique mondial et de la pollution de l’environnement sur les circuits alimentaires traditionnels et des taux élevés de maladies liées au régime alimentaire. Jusqu’à maintenant toutefois, la santé publique a fonctionné à partir de concepts de la sécurité alimentaire élaborés dans des contextes non autochtones, qui ne tiennent pas vraiment compte des pratiques alimentaires traditionnelles des Autochtones, ni des concepts autochtones de la sécurité alimentaire. Dans cet article, je tente de démontrer qu’en matière de sécurité alimentaire, les Autochtones ont des considérations uniques, liées à la récolte, au partage et à la consommation d’aliments du terroir ou traditionnels, qui ont un effet sur les quatre piliers de la sécurité alimentaire: l’accès, la disponibilité, l’approvisionnement et l’utilisation. Ainsi, les concepts, les politiques et les programmes de sécurité alimentaire qui s’appliquent aux Autochtones doivent tenir compte à la fois du circuit alimentaire commercial et du circuit traditionnel. Comme les pratiques alimentaires traditionnelles sont au cœur de la santé et de la survie culturelle, j’avance que la sécurité alimentaire culturelle est une dimension de la sécurité alimentaire qui s’ajoute aux dimensions de l’individu, du ménage et de la collectivité. Les concepts de la sécurité alimentaire chez les Autochtones resteront incomplets si l’on ne fait pas de recherche qualitative pour comprendre la perspective autochtone; ce genre de recherche doit tenir compte de la diversité autochtone.

Mots clés

Amérindiens politique alimentaire santé publique 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Kinesiology & Health StudiesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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