Sustainable and resilient country food systems for future generations of Nunavimmiut - promoting food security while adapting to changing northern environments
Marianne Falardeau-Côté (Université Laval), Carie Hoover (Dalhousie University), Chris Furgal (Trent University), Matthew Little (University of Victoria), Jean-Éric Tremblay (Université Laval), Philippe Archambault (Université Laval), William Cheung (University of BC), Megan Bailey (Dalhousie University)
Country foods are at the core of Inuit culture and well-being, and anchor Inuit in their traditions and territory. Yet, a recent and rapid diet transition from country foods to costly and processed market foods contributed to put Inuit among the most food insecure in Canada. Environmental changes may exacerbate food insecurity by further constraining country food availability and access. Changes in seasonal patterns have already affected the abundance, distribution and condition of culturally valued species like Arctic char, beluga and caribou. This at a time when the Inuit population is growing three times faster than non-Indigenous Canadians. However, the actual links between the dynamics of Arctic social-ecological systems and Inuit food security remain poorly understood. In this context, Nunavik communities are wondering whether there will be enough nutritious country food for future Nunavimmiut generations under a rapidly shifting environment.
Through existing collaborations valorizing environmental, socio-economic, human diet, food security and health data from previous and ongoing projects in Nunavik, we are uniquely positioned to rigorously examine the impact of environmental change on northern ecosystems and related environment-health interactions. In collaboration with Nunavik partners and within the three coastal regions of Nunavik (Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay), we propose to:
- Assess the environmental and human-driven mechanisms controlling the availability (how much food?) and quality (how nutritious is it?) of key aquatic species (e.g. Arctic char, beluga, etc.) through ecosystem modelling;
- Link (both conceptually and empirically) biophysical and human subsystems with interacting ecological, economic, social and cultural components of food security (how accessible is the food?);
- Work with community partners to co-construct scenarios of possible impacts of ongoing changes (will there be enough food?), as well as adaptation strategies to foster sustainable harvests of country foods (aquatic and caribou), food security and health (how can we adapt?).