Towards a collective vision for advancing food sovereignty in Canada

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In April 2011, Inter Pares helped launch Resetting the Table: A People’s Food Policy for Canada. The report was the culmination of a massive civic inquiry into the food system. In all, over 3,500 people from across the country took part, generating the most comprehensive analysis of the Canadian food system thus far, and outlining clear policies for fostering a more just and ecological society. Food Secure Canada, an increasingly strong and influential voice for the food movement, is committed to turning the People’s Food Policy into reality.

At the heart of the People’s Food Policy is the wisdom of Indigenous community leaders from across Canada. Throughout the three-year process, these leaders – along with activists from different regions, sectors, and cultures – worked to find common ground and to iron out a collective vision for advancing food sovereignty in Canada. Overcoming differences and working in common cause was essential, as the reality is stark and there is urgency to act.

In urban areas, food bank use is at an all-time high. At the same time, in Canada’s North, the exorbitant price for nutritious food, combined with cheap junk food, is contributing to malnutrition with epidemic proportions of childhood obesity and diabetes. While we speak of “food deserts” in urban centres, oil and mineral development in the North are leading to “wildlife deserts” that threaten the ability of communities to feed themselves through fishing, hunting and harvesting – an essential part of life and culture for Northern Canadians.

A paradigm shift is needed. For Indigenous peoples, food is part of a web of relationships with the natural world that nurtures cultures and communities. As an elder from the Anishinaabe community states in the People’s Food Policy: “The recovery of the people is tied to the recovery of food, since food itself is medicine; not only for the body, but for the soul, for the spiritual connection to history, ancestors, and the land.” The values and knowledge of Indigenous peoples are key to helping humanity overcome the challenges we face today and plan for tomorrow.

In January 2012, Inter Pares staff member Eric Chaurette was elected Chair of Food Secure Canada. Inter Pares is lending significant support to Food Secure Canada, an organization that is leading the way in creating the space for collective learning and action among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to bring about food sovereignty.

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Ensuring food sovereignty in Canada by transforming our food system from the ground up and by advocating for a national progressive food policy with our allies.

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