Supporting Inuit food security: A synthesis of initiatives in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Northwest Territories
Food insecurity among Indigenous Peoples of northern Canada is a significant public health issue that is exacerbated by changing social and environmental conditions. While a patchwork of programs, strategies and polices exist, the extent to which they address all “pillars” of food security (food availability, access, quality, and utilization) remains under-assessed. We respond to this gap by providing a framework for synthesizing and assessing information about food security initiatives, using a case study of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR), the westernmost Inuit region of Canada. Our objectives are: (1) to identify existing initiatives in the ISR; (2) to assess the breadth and diversity of these initiatives in addressing the four key food security “pillars”; and (3) to present an analytical framework that will facilitate ongoing data updating and sharing in the ISR and elsewhere. Through a scoping review and direct consultation with 12 key informants, we identified 30 initiatives that support food security in the ISR. These are funded and implemented at a range of national, territorial, regional, and local levels, and include both governmental and non-governmental programs, strategic frameworks, and research and monitoring initiatives. Seven key themes emerged from the cross-scale analysis of these initiatives, including: orientation with respect to food security pillars, scope and scale, demographic targeting, funding, monitoring and evaluation, and implications for food security strategies. While our framework provides a useful tool for data synthesis and analysis, its outputs can help in identifying gaps and opportunities for both resource allocation and program and policy development for under-served communities. Significantly, this study highlights the importance of engaging local perspectives in the development of coordinated approaches to address Inuit food insecurity.