Indigenous Food Sovereignty
The food sovereignty movement is building around the world and while there is no universal definition, it can be described as the newest and most innovative approach to achieving the end goal of long term food security. Indigenous food sovereignty is a specific policy approach to addressing the underlying issues impacting Indigenous peoples and our ability to respond to our own needs for healthy, culturally adapted Indigenous foods. Community mobilization and the maintenance of multi-millennial cultural harvesting strategies and practices provide a basis for forming and influencing "policy driven by practice".
While the language and concept of food sovereignty has only recently been introduced in Indigenous communities, the living reality is not a new one. Indigenous food related knowledge, values and wisdom built up over thousands of years provides a basis for identifying four key principles that guide the present day food sovereignty movement in Indigenous communities.
- Sacred or divine sovereignty – Food is a gift from the Creator; in this respect the right to food is sacred and cannot be constrained or recalled by colonial laws, policies and institutions. Indigenous food sovereignty is fundamentally achieved by upholding our sacred responsibility to nurture healthy, interdependent relationships with the land, plants and animals that provide us with our food.
- Participatory – IFS is fundamentally based on “action”, or the day to day practice of maintaining cultural harvesting strategies. To maintain Indigenous food sovereignty as a living reality for both present and future generations, continued participation in cultural harvesting strategies at all of the individual, family, community and regional levels is key.
- Self-determination- The ability to respond to our own needs for healthy, culturally adapted Indigenous foods. The ability to make decisions over the amount and quality of food we hunt, fish, gather, grow and eat. Freedom from dependence on grocery stores or corporately controlled food production, distribution and consumption in industrialized economies.
- Policy - IFS attempts to reconcile Indigenous food and cultural values with colonial laws and policies and mainstream economic activities. IFS thereby provides a restorative framework for policy reform in forestry, fisheries, rangeland, environmental conservation, health, agriculture, and rural and community development.