Barriers and supports to traditional food access in Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia)


  • Amy Grann
  • Liesel Carlsson Acadia University
  • Kayla Mansfield-Brown



traditional food, access, community, nutrition


Canada is a signatory nation on international covenants, conventions, and declarations supporting the human right to food, but has not granted constitutional protection thereof. Failure to uphold the right to food contributes to unacceptably high levels of food insecurity that vary geographically and demographically, undermines health, and creates structural obstacles to food system sustainability. It is well recognized that Indigenous populations in Canada face disproportionately high rates of food insecurity compared to non-Indigenous people, and little attention is paid to the Indigenous conceptions of food security, including access to traditional food systems. The purpose of this research was to better understand the importance of, as well as barriers and supports that exist in accessing traditional food for Indigenous Peoples in Nova Scotia. Two focus groups were held with individuals who identify as Indigenous (n=16), one for those who live within a First Nations community and one for those who live outside of a First Nations community, in Nova Scotia. Focus groups were held in a talking circle format to facilitate discussion on traditional food access. Focus groups were transcribed and analyzed using the Medicine Wheel Evaluation Framework to understand in a culturally relevant way, how traditional foods impact Indigenous Nova Scotians’ health. Bronfenbrenner’s Social Ecological Model was used to locate barriers and supports to traditional food. Supports identified were community engagement, consultations and partnerships, and strength of cultural values. Barriers included knowledge transmission, lack of community, land access, cost, programs and policies, and identity loss. Nuances specific to each community are discussed. Both supports and challenges exist for traditional food access in Nova Scotia; however, barriers outweighed supports in both number and magnitude. Stronger community and political partnerships, as well as consultations with Indigenous Peoples by public and private sector developers are necessary to develop upstream solutions to traditional food access.




How to Cite

Grann, A., Carlsson, L., & Mansfield-Brown, K. (2023). Barriers and supports to traditional food access in Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia). Canadian Food Studies La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 10(1), 65–85.