Nimíciwinán, nipimátisiwinán – “Our food is our way of life”: On-Reserve First Nation perspectives on community food security and sovereignty through oral history in Fisher River Cree Nation, Manitoba
Food insecurity in Indigenous communities in Canada continue to gain increasing attention among scholars, community practitioners, and policy makers. Meanwhile, the role and importance of Indigenous foods, associated knowledges, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples (Council of Canadian Academies, 2014) that highlight community voices in food security still remain under-represented and under-studied in this discourse. University of Winnipeg (UW) researchers and Fisher River Cree Nation (FRCN) representatives began an action research partnership to explore Indigenous knowledges associated with food cultivation, production, and consumption practices within the community since 2012. The participatory, place-based, and collaborative case study involved 17 oral history interviews with knowledge keepers of FRCN. The goal was to understand their perspectives of and challenges to community food security, and to explore the potential role of Indigenous food knowledges in meeting community food security needs. In particular, the role of land-based Indigenous foods in meeting community food security through restoration of health, cultural values, identity, and self-determination were emphasized by the knowledge keepers—a vision that supports Indigenous food sovereignty. The restorative potential of Indigenous food sovereignty in empowering individuals and communities is well-acknowledged. It can nurture sacred relationships and actions to renew and strengthen relationships to the community’s own Indigenous land-based foods, previously weakened by colonialism, globalization, and neoliberal policies.