A qualitative examination of barriers and opportunities faced by a Northern community in obtaining culturally specific food sovereignty.

Regions: Dehcho Region

Tags: health, food security, food

Principal Investigator: O'Hare, Meagan Ann (1)
Licence Number: 15528
Organization: University of Ottawa
Licenced Year(s): 2014
Issued: Aug 11, 2014
Project Team: Research Assistant (recruitment, translation, interpretation), Meagan Ann O'Hare (University of Ottawa student, University of Ottawa), Michael Robidoux (Supervisor , University of Ottawa)

Objective(s): To understand the challenges that a small, Northern community in the NWT faces with food sovereignty and programs implemented to address the issues; to understand the challenges and opportunities that program facilitators and leaders have faced in regards to implementing a cultural programs and how they have dealt with these challenges.

Project Description: This project seeks to understand the challenges that a small, Northern community in the NWT faces with food sovereignty and programs implemented to address the issues. It also seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities that program facilitators and leaders have faced in regards to implementing a cultural programs and how they have dealt with these challenges. This proposed research employs a post-colonial perspective to determine whether the program is culturally appropriate. A culturally safe program demonstrates respect for Aboriginal peoples' history and the impact of colonization and addresses Aboriginal populations’ needs through the inclusion of Aboriginal peoples in the program’s development. The program will look at different aspects of Fort Providence's food strategy and how it affects the overall goal of health and community well-being.

Specifically, the first objective is to explore the potential impacts of increasing youth’s exposure to land-based food procurement practices in relation to gaining and implementing traditional knowledge. Secondly, food-sharing practices will be examined to determine if they promote or hinder food security in communities largely dependent on market foods.

The main methods which will be utilized to gain data and an understanding of the research question will be participant observation and semi-structured interviews. An ethnographic approach is extremely naturalistic, therefore its leading methods involve examining subjects in their natural habitat as they interact and evolve without external influence. Through participant observation and interviewing, the researcher will be able to gain a comprehensive understanding of the perspective of the subject’s daily life without impeding on the experience, allowing it to play out as it would in the natural world. This holistic picture of the life in a small community in Northern Canada will bring an essential contextual understanding to access of land-based food and knowledge transition between generations. Combining participant observation with semi-structured interviewing will combine active observation with the opportunity for one-on-one conversion in a natural setting. It will attempt to examine the issues related to food sovereignty and how people describe and structure their social surroundings holistically. Participants of the study will be informed families, community resource providers, leaders and local elders. Special action will be taken to inform parents of the involvement of their children at camp and permission will be sought. Examples of activities which will be of particular interest to the researcher will be youth’s involvement with their parents and elders in the land-based food procurement process. The researcher will obtain data in the level of knowledge the youth possess about traditional methods, such as filleting fish and skinning beaver, and evaluate the impacts of increasing their time spent with elders in intense cultural camps. The researcher will analyze the stated feelings about land-based food practices from various generations of local people and examine the difference in attitudes.

While in the community, the Principal Investigator would like to volunteer to help support the programs and to build relationships with community members. The community will be involved to determine what other goals they have with participation in the research. The proposed study uses a qualitative approach in Fort Providence, NWT, which will focus on working with people to collect data from a Wild Food Procurement program that runs out of Deh Gah Elementary and Secondary School. Local community members will have the opportunity to influence the research and will be given the final results.

To ensure that the results are communicated to NWT residents, the final research results will be presented back to the participating community, which will likely be in the Summer 2015. The participants will also receive copies of the research outcomes. The principle investigator hopes that the community of Fort Providence will use the findings from the research to strengthen its program and create a resource for other communities with suggestions on how to implement or strengthen an existing foods program. The results will also be used by the Indigenous Health Research Group that works in collaboration with Northern communities to secure sustainable food systems.

In order to further include NWT residents into this research opportunity, the principle investigator will collaborate with a student from the Aurora College, by hiring them as a research assistant. Having a resident from the NWT as a research assistant will be a great benefit to this research project and will help contribute to the development of research capacity in the NWT.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 11, 2014 to October 4, 2014.