Strengthening Indigenous food security and sovereignty

Every year on June 21, for National Indigenous Peoples Day, we honour the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nation, Inuit and Métis Peoples across Turtle Island.

This is a day to celebrate the strength, stewardship and resilience of Indigenous Peoples and their enduring presence on this land since time immemorial.

At Food Banks Canada, we join Indigenous Peoples today in celebrating their stories and achievements.

Through various grants and funding opportunities, Food Banks Canada has helped Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast to undertake special projects and grow their capacity to advance food security initiatives that promote prosperity.

The 2023 Northern Capacity Fund was made possible through Food Banks Canada to support sustainable capacity investments in underserved northern communities. The fund was open to food banks and other food security organizations in the North, including Indigenous groups, Indigenous government organizations and band councils.

Forty-two grants totalling nearly $2.8 million were awarded to organizations in the North with the ultimate goal of building sustainable food security initiatives that will provide ongoing support, food industry partnerships, and systems for those in need.

This past winter, the Sirivik Food Centre in Inukjuak, Que. received funding for the construction of a new storage warehouse, plus a canoe as well as two snowmobiles that are significantly improving the food centre’s capacity to contribute to food sovereignty in the Nunavik region through education, community building and skill development.

Since acquiring the two snowmobiles, Sirivik has conducted over a dozen trips on the land through their Ulluriat program, which is their youth country food program working to increase youth involvement in the traditional Inuit food system.

These outings have supported the harvesting of geese, ptarmigan, caribou, musk ox, and fish that were either taken home by participating students, redistributed to community elders, or used by Sirivik for its community kitchen activities.

For each of these outings, Sirivik hired experienced local guides, providing employment opportunities and creating a safe space where traditional skills and knowledge could be shared.

According to Sirivik General Manager Charles Coté Lalonde, the two new snowmobiles have made the organization more autonomous in accessing the land, enhancing the availability of traditional food, and providing staff with more experience in guiding youth on the land, sharing their knowledge and skills.

“These outings are crucial for enabling young individuals who do not have the opportunity to experience the land. Furthermore, this initiative increases the availability of country food within the community and creates jobs for numerous experienced hunters who pass on their knowledge to the younger generation empowering everyone involved,” Lalonde reported. “The increased availability of country food enables our organization to prepare more traditional dishes for the community, provide more traditional meals to the community’s elders, and support the overall supply of traditional food for the community.”