Access and affordability of "healthy" foods in northern Manitoba? The need for Indigenous food sovereignty


  • Mengistu Assefa Wendimu University of Manitoba
  • Annette Aurélie Desmarais University of Manitoba
  • Tabitha Robin Martens University of Manitoba



Despite widespread concerns about household food insecurity experienced by Indigenous peoples, there is limited empirical evidence about the availability and prices of healthy foods in First Nations rural communities located in northern Manitoba, Canada. To fill this research gap, this study examines the availability and affordability of fresh milk, fruits, vegetables, and several other selected food items; investigates the determinants of food prices; and examines the implications of paying higher food prices for individuals and communities in northern Manitoba. The research findings are based on a survey of fifty-two food items conducted in twenty-two communities and six focus group discussions with mothers, service providers, and community leaders. Our research indicates that in addition to limited availability of healthy foods, food prices in First Nations communities were significantly higher than in Winnipeg or non-First Nations urban centers. We conclude by pointing to some policy implications emerging from this research while also signaling the need for a more substantial and profound transformation that includes decolonizing food systems and building Indigenous food sovereignty.

Author Biographies

Mengistu Assefa Wendimu, University of Manitoba

Post-doctoral Fellow, Natural Resource Institute

Annette Aurélie Desmarais, University of Manitoba

Canada Research Chair in Human Rights, Social Justice and Food Sovereignty

Tabitha Robin Martens, University of Manitoba

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Social Work




How to Cite

Wendimu, M. A., Desmarais, A. A., & Martens, T. R. (2018). Access and affordability of "healthy" foods in northern Manitoba? The need for Indigenous food sovereignty. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 5(2), 44–72.