We recently released a food sovereignty and harvesting report to help guide the discussions on food security in our region and our Territory. This report outlines a forward looking, solution oriented approach to Nunavut’s food problems. Our report calls for the need to shift the thinking from food security to food sovereignty. This means renewing policy frameworks and funding models to empower Inuit to feed our communities.
When Inuit provide country food, they also reinvigorate Inuit cultural practices, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, language and self-sufficiency. Supporting food sovereignty shows a commitment towards reconciliation and stimulates local economies.
QIA prefers using the term food sovereignty rather than food security because food sovereignty allows for a culturally and community-minded approach to food management. Making food sovereignty possible in the Qikiqtani Region would revitalize Inuit culture and be a significant step towards reconciliation between Inuit and the Government of Canada.
Country food and harvesting are central to Inuit culture, community and well-being. Colonization has disconnected us from harvesting, the very cultural practice that reinvigorates our sense of identity, feeds our communities and stimulates our local economy. Major investments in infrastructure, particularly small craft harbours are needed, as well as resources to train and employ Inuit for jobs in the harvesting industry.
Harvesters’ catch will fill the community freezer and feed Nunavut. Their catch will also provide animal products that stimulate the local economy. Hides, furs, skins, bones, antlers, and tusks become essential material for making clothing, art and craft items.
QIA envisions a Nunavut where country food is a readily available choice for families and harvesting is a viable livelihood. Our goal is for every Inuk in the Qikiqtani Region to have stable and long-term access to locally harvested country food. QIA considers this as one key indicator of achieving food sovereignty and reconciliation in the Arctic. One way to ensure access to country food is to support harvesters and help them transfer skills to the next generations.