Food Security in Northern Manitoba

Indigenous people in northern Manitoba’s First Nation communities have 10 times the food insecurity rate of others in Canada. Food insecurity is a critical issue in northern Manitoba’s Indigenous communities. To maintain basic human rights Canada to remedy this unjust situation.  The right to food should be adopted by Canada.

Harvesting Hope: In Northern Manitoba Communities

Pulling in the indigenous fishery cooperative net: Fishing for sustainable livelihoods and food security in Garden Hill First Nation, Manitoba, Canada

Garden Hill First Nation’s Community Members Who Have Food Handling Certificates Fillet Fish at the ILOC Fish Processing and Packaging Facility.

It is widely understood that cooperatives have been successful in fighting poverty (Bharadwaj 2012; Bibby & Shaw, 2005; Birchall, 2003; Prasad & Satsangi, 2013; Wanyama, Develtere, & Pollet, 2009). Birchall (2004) touts cooperatives’ positive impact on poverty reduction, saying, “Their track record over 150 years in lifting whole groups of people out of poverty in the now developed world is substantial” (p. 45). Cooperatives around the world have improved the sustainability of rural livelihoods, in particular in Africa (Wanyama et al., 2008), India (Prasad & Satsangi, 2013), Nepal (Bharadwaj, 2012), and Bangladesh and Bolivia (Bibby & Shaw, 2005). Cooperative approaches have successfully addressed socio-economic issues (Wanyama et al, 2008); built capacity, enabled effective supervision, and fostered sustainable livelihoods (Prasad & Satsangi, 2013); and increased ethical consideration among members, empowered women, and created democratic institutions (Bhradwaj, 2012). The Amul Dairy Cooperative in India, for example, transformed members’ social and economic lives by developing participative, yet professional, management. These dairy farmers improved their livelihoods by cutting out the middlemen and creating a variety of new value-added products (Prasad & Satsangi, 2013). Another dairy farmer cooperative, Milk Vita Cooperative in Bangladesh, enhanced social equity by engaging and empowering women. Additionally, by increasing their earnings tenfold milk producers were able to rise above the poverty line (Bibby & Shaw, 2005).

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Community Development to Feed the Family in Northern Manitoba Communities: Evaluating Food Activities Based on Their Food Sovereignty, Food Security, and Sustainable Livelihood Outcomes

Household food security status of households in Northern Manitoba Aboriginal communities (n=533 households) in 14 communities

What can be done to sustain and feed communities in Northern Manitoba, where families are poor and retail food prices are extremely high? Problems associated with food access in remote fly-in communities in Manitoba include limited selection of perishable foods, high food prices, escalating transportation costs, uncertainty of travel on winter ice roads, high poverty rates, and a declining use of local country foods (Northern Food Prices Project Steering Committee [NFPSC], 2003; Thompson et al., 2011a, 2011b). The re-invigoration of local food production is considered key to food access (NFPSC, 2003). Community-based food action is one possible response to tackle food insecurity, alongside business activities, government programs, and social policy (Power, 1999; Power & Tarasuk, 2006).

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Sustainability and Vulnerability: Aboriginal Arctic Food Security in a Toxic World

Ice fishing through one-metre-thick ice in March. Lake near the Hudson Bay coast, north of Chisasibi, Quebec.

Environmental change impacts food security in Aboriginal communities in Canadas Arctic. Northern Aboriginal communities are widely recognized as having mixed, subsistence-based economies in which the harvesting of country food for primarily domestic consumption plays a significant role in their food security and culture (Usher et al. 2003). Since time immemorial, Canadas Aboriginal peoples were self-sufficient, through subsistence-based activities, in the harsh Arctic climate without causing degradation to their environment (Usher et al. 2003). However, colonization and modernization makes their food supply and subsistence activities vulnerable.

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Garden Hill Fresh Fish – Catching with Care

Enhancing farmers’ capacity for botanical pesticide innovation through video-mediated learning in Bangladesh

Phases to combine FPR with video-mediated learning sessions (modified from Van Mele, 2006).

In many low-income countries, sustainable agriculture is caught between escalating demands for crop yields and ensuring ecological sustainability (IAASTD, 2009; Mengistie, Mol, Oosterveer, & Simane, 2014; Pretty, 2005; UNEP, 2011). Yet, the last decade of the post-green revolution period of 1990–2002 observed an exponential increase (175%) in synthetic pesticides without a corresponding gain in rice production (25%) in Bangladesh (Datta & Kar, 2006). Although Ban- gladesh’s national agricultural policy (NAEP, 1997) has long upheld ecological and environment- friendly farming practices, a number of studies show similar trends of growing synthetic pesticide use for major crop production, such as rice and vegetables (Mohiuddin, Hossain, Rahman, & Palash, 2009; Rahman, 2003). In some South Asian countries, the average frequency of synthetic pesticide application for vegetables ranges from 10 to 20 times per season, with up to 80 applications per season for some crops (e.g. eggplant) (Gallagher et al., 2005). This is also the case for Bangladesh where it is now well known that the excessive use of synthetic pesticides has negative effects on the environment and human health (FPMU, 2012; Robbani, Siddique, Zaman, & Nakamura, 2007).

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Tackling food security issues in indigenous communities in Canada: The Manitoba experience

Health is largely determined by social, economic, political and environmental circumstances. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that ‘The social conditions in which people live powerfully influence their chances to be healthy. Indeed, factors such as poverty, food insecurity, social exclusion and discrimination, poor housing, unhealthy early childhood conditions and low occupational status are important determinants of most of disease, death and health inequalities between and within countries’.

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Community Economic Development with Neechi Foods: Impact on Aboriginal Fishers in Northern Manitoba, Canada

Russ Rothney (Right), Neechi Foods Co-op Treasurer and Neechi Commons Project Manager with Chris Taylor (Left), a commercial fisherman and fish plant operator from Garden Hill, First Nation in Winnipeg on 9th May, 2011. Russ is discussing fish buying opportunities from First Nation fishers.

Neechi Foods Co-op located in the north end of Winnipeg, Canada is an ideal example of an Aboriginal community economic development initiative. This grocery store has been operating for over 21 years and is an associate member of the Federated Co-operatives Ltd. Neechi Foods is committed to providing quality products and services to ensure a high degree of customer satisfaction and retention, building a strong cooperative, and promoting community economic development and opportunities for Aboriginal peoples. Neechi Foods Co-op sells freshly prepared bannock, wild rice, wild blueberries, freshwater fish, and other Indigenous specialty foods, ‘home-made’ deli products, conventional grocery items and Aboriginal crafts, books and music. The co-op has been commercially self-reliant and profitable despite severe economic crises in its surrounding neighbourhood. In 2009-2010 financial year, annual sales of Neechi Foods Co-op reached over $600,000. Neechi Foods Co-op is expanding its business and building the Neechi Commons Co-operative business complex which will start operation in 2012.

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Growing Hope In Northern Manitoba Communities

Food Insecurity in Northern Manitoba: The Research Journey.

Although Health Canada conducted a standardized survey on food security across Canada it neglected to survey First Nation communities. Dr. Shirley Thompson’s (Natural Resources Institute) SSHRC and CIHR funded research is the first to research food insecurity in First Nation communities in Canada, finding food insecurity rates of 75% in a survey of 534 households in 14 Northern Manitoba communities. This rate is eight times the Canadian average and shows that there is a food security crisis in these communities due to the high cost of food, reduced use of country foods due to regulation, and low income. In Nelson House First Nation, which is close to Thompson, food insecurity rates are much lower. People in the community attribute these lower levels of food insecurity with their country foods program. This country food program is paying traditional hunters and fishers to fill freezers with traditional foods, including fish, so that this food is available to those in need and elders without charge.

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Harvesting Hope in Northern Manitoba: Can Participatory Video Help Rebuild Aboriginal Food Sovereignty?

Community member in northern Manitoba collaborated with researchers on a participatory video to tell their story of the challenges to, and the possibilities for, food sovereignty. The story became richer and more accurate after repeated community showings. The iterative process ensured the participatory video valued local knowledge of traditional food harvesting, providing a rich history of food sovereignty in Manitoba. Feedback from community members was very positive – people loved sharing their stories and seeing northerners represented in media. They pushed to have it distributed to all schools. The result is a video that explores the challenges and solutions from grassroots experts and a video that teaches and inspires.

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Is Community Economic Development Putting Healthy Food on the Table? Food Sovereignty in Northern Manitoba’s Aboriginal Communities

Could food based community economic development (CED) help feed families in northern Manitoba where many families lack economic access to nutritious foods? Problems associated with food access in remote communities include limited selection of perishable foods, expensive food prices, escalating transport costs, uncertainty of travel with winter roads not freezing over, high poverty rates, and a decline in use of country foods (NFPSC, 2003). Many people have stated that to live a healthy life in a northern Manitoba community, individuals need to practice sustainable local food cultivation and harvesting practices. Community members recognize the need to improve food access and have requested the re-invigoration of local food production as a first priority (NFPSC, 2003). This request is a call for food related community economic development (CED) towards food sovereignty.

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A Return to Roots: Faced with a growing epidemic, Canada’s Aboriginal communities look to lessons of the past in their fight against diabetes

Keith Anderson turned his entire backyard into a garden

The teens seemed safe enough. They hung out in the gravel parking lot outside the community’s only store, snacking on pop and chips, flirting, teasing. With young love and adventure stirring the air, they hashed out plans to fill another long summer evening in South Indian Lake, a remote First Nations community in Northern Manitoba. Then they jumped on ATVs and roared off through the reservation, oblivious to the disease stalking them. As she watched them, Jennifer Linklater squeezed back angry tears. The young Aboriginal diabetes worker, barely older than the teens, estimated that 50 to 80 percent of the adults in this community of 900 have type 2 diabetes, many undiagnosed. And the age of onset has been dropping. A 12-year-old was recently diagnosed. Linklater admits she’s often overwhelmed by her work, and feels alone in her efforts to slow the onslaught.

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Pathways to Healthy Living: The Northern Journey for Burntwood Chronic Disease Prevention

Is Healthy Food on the Table in Northern Manitoba? Evaluating Northern Healthy Foods Initiative for Sustainability and Food Access

The Northern Healthy Foods Initiative (NHFI) is a community-based intervention funded by the provincial government of Manitoba designed to increase access to affordable nutritious food in Northern Manitoba communities. At present, northern Manitoba communities suffer from a food security crisis. At 75% food insecurity, households in the 14 communities studied have eight times the food insecurity rate as the Canada food insecurity rate. This situation is largely due to limited selection of healthy foods in stores, expensive food prices, escalating transport costs, uncertainty of travel with winter roads not freezing over, high poverty rates, structural unemployment, environmental change reducing the capacity to live off the land and a decline in the use of country foods due to regulations limiting use and cultural change. Approximately one third of households report experiencing severe food insecurity manifested as reduced food intake and disrupted food patterns, while a further 42% report moderate food insecurity as measured by compromised food quality and quantity. The food insecurity rates are even higher in fly-in communities. Clearly, NHFI is needed.

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A Recipe for Change: Reclamation of Indigenous Food Sovereignty in O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation for Decolonization, Resource Sharing, and Cultural Restoration

Hydroelectric projects in northern Manitoba, Canada, have undermined environmental, economic, and social welfare of Indigenous communities for decades (Kamal, Thompson, Linklater, & Ithinto Mechisowin Committee, 2014; Liénafa & Martin, 2010; Martin & Hoffman, 2008; Waldram, 1988). In 1976, one such project, Manitoba Hydro’s Churchill River Diversion (CRD), flooded many northern Manitoba Indigenous communities (Waldram, 1988). CRD damaged Indigenous food and medicine, leading to food insecurity, negative health impacts and a legacy of poverty among the affected populations (Kamal et al., 2014). The community of O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation (OPCN), a small First Nation reserve located on the shore of Southern Indian Lake (SIL), was one of the most negatively impacted of all the communities affected (Waldram, 1988). Despite OPCN’s appeal for cultural and livelihood rights, community concern was purposely undermined by Manitoba Hydro and the province (Waldram, 1984, 236).

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Youth Community Gardening Programming as Community Development: The Youth for EcoAction Program in Winnipeg, Canada

Timeline of Youth EcoAction in Winnipeg from 2004 to 2012

Can a community garden provide more than just vegetables? The Youth for EcoAction (YEA) program, an after- school gardening program, endeavours to grow not just food but also cultivate youth and communities through its work. This article analyzes the YEA program for its role in community development, considering the impacts on the participants and the broader community. The YEA program is an example of a “participatory, bottom-up approach to development” (Markey, Pierce, Vodden & Roseland, 2005, p. 2) with an emphasis on the capacity building of at-risk youth and community enhancement focused on community gardens in low-income communities.

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Ricky’s Story

Bright ideas: Linking students from around the world to make big impact here at home

They are the best and the brightest from around the world, and an initiative to link them with the leading minds of academia can produce real-world results right here in Manitoba. A total of 565 interns through Mitacs Globalink program have been connected with university professors across Canada, with 35 of those students lending their efforts here in Manitoba. Shirley Thompson, an associate professor at U of M’s Natural Resources Institute, has focused on sustainability in two northern Manitoba First Nations, addressing food and housing concerns in Garden Hill and Wasagamack First Nations. Santiago Martinez, a student from Mexico, assisted Thompson in community development discussions about the barriers that exist in housing and food security in remote communities.

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 Sustainable Livelihood Approach to Achieve Food Sovereignty in O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation

In the era of “contemporary colonialism” (Corntassel, 2012), food sovereignty for Aboriginal peoples is a necessary struggle for cultural survival. In Canada, colonial and neoliberal policies have been detrimental to First Nation (FN) peoples’ livelihoods, as their traditional lands were taken over by settlers in the name of development (Ballard, 2012). These policies deprive and isolate them from land, culture, community, traditional food and medicinal resources (Anderson & Bone, 2009; Nue & Therrien, 2003). Access to natural resources and other assets are required for achieving food and livelihoods security but FN peoples are still being deprived access.

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Food and healing: an urban community food security assessment for the North End of Winnipeg

At the nexus of the nutritional state and emotional well-being is a nexus providing insights for education, programming and development towards CFS. The integrative and holistic understanding of the issues informs this nexus, in turn informing community programming working towards more food secure communities.

Winnipeg North End is an urban Canadian community which has a history of poverty and segregation from the rest of Winnipeg going back to the late 1800s. The first settler populations into the North End were Eastern European, German and Jewish immigrant industrial workers (Levin et al. 2007). Following the Second World War, the North End went through two major socio-economic shifts. Many of the residents and established cultural organizations started leaving for different parts of the city, and in the 1960s and 1970s Aboriginal people, namely Ojibwe and Cree started leaving the reservations and establishing themselves in the North End of the city, which had the most affordable housing to accommodate limited budgets (Silver 2010). Today, the North End of Winnipeg continues to have socio-economic problems, which are dynamic, interrelated and often not easily determined in terms of cause and effect. The community is affected by poverty and food insecurity, especially among women and Aboriginal populations (Miko and Thompson 2004). The North End is characterized by several of the aforementioned urban issues. Poverty and crime rates are among the highest of any Western Canadian community and the social determinants for such issues are complex. This complexity in turn creates a problematic situation for the development of community betterment programming and often misalignments between programme dollars and community needs. There is an increasing need in the North End, as well as in other urban communities, to take on more integrative and holistic approaches to issues related to social factors and food-related health issues.

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Environmental Economics Reality Check: A Case Study of the Abanico Medicinal Plant and Organic Agriculture Microenterprise Project

After the Earth Summit every international project was required to have two components: sustainable development and gender in development. Sustainable development emphasized the need for continued economic growth to save the planet (WCED, 1987). Women in development criticizes the failure of economic development to recognize the productive role of women (Boserup, 1970). Women in development recast rural women into organized food producers for a growing number of international consumers. Micro-enterprises became the gender equity solution. During the 1980s, micro-enterprise discourse had the goals of improving the quality of life of their participants: credit was provided at rates lower than commercial bank rates, and education, training, support and commercialization were supported through donations. Since the early 1990s, as a result of monetarist policies, loans to microenterprises have been provided at high interest rates, often above that of commercial banks, to cover the operational costs of these loans and guarantee capital return.

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