Cultural Meaning of Food and Food Security

Area of Research: 
Health promotion
Traditional knowledge


To study the meaning and experience of food and food security in Ulukhaktok.


The purpose of the research is to study the meaning and experience of food and food security in Ulukhaktok. The main objectives are to: 1) document how Inuit define the concepts of "food", "food insecurity" and "health"; 2) examine patterns of country food consumption and sharing; and, 3) identify local knowledge of new species of wildlife important for subsistence.

Sharing network interviews (approximately 20 minutes): will be conducted with the heads of households. Questions will involve the exchange of country food, the exchange of food from the store, sharing a meal, the exchange of money, and the exchange of labour assistance.

Beluga knowledge interviews (approximately 20 minutes): will be conducted with active hunters and food preparers to identify knowledge related to beluga, including beluga biology, hunting, and meat preparation. 

Community partners will be involved throughout the entire research process including, project design, data collection and interpretation, report writing and sharing findings back in the community. Two community members will assist as researchers to help with data collection and analysis, and language interpretation. The research aims to develop a culturally appropriate assessment of food security, which can be communicated to decision-makers so that food and wildlife management policies reflect the needs of Ulukhaktomuit. 

Research findings will be communicated in Ulukhaktok and elsewhere in the NWT. University researchers will work together with local researchers to develop appropriate and effective methods for communicating research results. This may include presentations to the community and school, a plain-language report with photos and key findings, and translated in Inuinnaqtun and English, updates on the local radio, and household visits to discuss the results. 

The fieldwork for this study was conducted from July 29, 2016, to December 31, 2016.


Research findings for this project have been communicated in Ulukhaktok and elsewhere in the NWT through presentations at the local level to the Hunters and Trappers committee and Ulukhaktok Community Corporation, regionally to the Inuvialuit Game Council and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, and through household visits with community members who were a part of the project. Research findings have also been published in peer-reviewed publications and included in other documents (e.g. NCE reports), and have been leveraged into funding through Health Canada (Nunamin Illihakvia) and CIRNAC (Tooniktoyak) for community-led projects in Ulukhaktok that focus on cultural programming related to country food and food security.