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Food Insecurity in Aboriginal Urban Households

Policy relevance

Many factors threaten the fight against household food insecurity, hunger, and poverty; this is particularly true for Aboriginal Canadians. Stakeholders, decision-makers, evaluators, and academics need to know about the unique experiences, challenges, traditions, knowledge, and beliefs of Aboriginal people when making strategic decisions or recommendations or when implementing new policies and programs. While much funding is currently directed at the health needs and concerns of First Nations people in on- and off-reserve areas, lack of government support for Inuit and M├ętis people is a serious problem. Federal and provincial governments need to collaborate on and implement a more strategic plan that addresses affordable housing, social and disability assistance and minimum wage.. A continuous assessment of community needs is required to bring meaningful and adequate services, programs, and initiatives in disadvantaged areas. By strengthening partnerships between researchers, policy-makers, evaluators, and representatives of the Aboriginal community, we can strengthen and empower communities, households, and families. By building upon existing projects and initiatives and including Aboriginal knowledge and values in policies, research, and community initiatives, it is possible to bring appropriate modifications that address gaps in social and community assistance while restoring human dignity and health to the most vulnerable and most neglected.

Rates of poverty, ill health, and social exclusion are higher among Aboriginal Canadians than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Understanding social determinants of health in an Aboriginal framework helps explain their unique challenges. This report comprises two studies and examines food insecurity in marginalized, off-reserve Aboriginal households. Study 1 included 10 self-identified food insecure Aboriginal women and study 2 included 15 Aboriginal families from Ottawa, Canada. Participants shared their experiences in a semi-structured interview. Qualitative responses are discussed using a phenomenological approach while quantitative results are analysed with descriptive statistics. Participants reported difficulties in sustaining a diet conducive to Aboriginal health and accounted geographic, economic and cultural barriers to food security. Participants placed no particular importance on the presence of Aboriginal staff at community food organizations. Emotional and physical consequences are discussed and recommendations are provided.

Keywords: Aboriginal, Food insecurity, Community Health, Barriers, Strategies

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