Food Security, Environment and Community Health: Integrating Participatory Methods, Tools and Knowledge to Promote Food Security in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Area of Research: 


To examine quantitatively, the role of country foods in the contemporary Inuit diet, including their nutritional and economic importance, and the dynamics between the country and market food dimensions of the diet; and, to better understand market food price variations across the region and seasonal fluctuations, and examine the role of food prices in dietary quality.



In 2008, 362 Inuvialuit beneficiaries completed a series of questionnaires about their health as part of the Inuit Health Survey. A key finding was that 46% of Inuvialuit Households were Food Insecure. In other words, 46% of Inuvialuit who participated in the study were either stressed that they would not have enough food to eat or had to skip meals. In response to this finding, the IRC teamed up with University of Ottawa researchers to conduct regional workshops in Inuvik in 2012 and 2014 to begin to determine and prioritize actions to address on-going food insecurity in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Workshop participants highlighted the importance of speaking with members of each community in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to determine local priorities. As a result, we conducted a regional food security engagement process in Winter 2018. This engagement builds on a series of collaborative food security research projects since 2014.

Development of the Inuvialuit Food Security Strategy, Phase 1

Between February and March 2018, focus groups on Community Food Security were conducted in all 6 communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (two focus groups per community = 12 total) by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation in partnership with researchers at the University of Ottawa. Each focus group brought together a small gathering of community members to discuss different goals for a food security strategy, existing programs and resources that support food security in their community, actions or programs that are currently missing in the community, and possible solutions and resources needed to achieve food security goals.  Additionally, more than a dozen interviews were conducted with community leaders and store managers about ways to improve food security in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

What happens next?

In Phase 2 of the Inuvialuit Food Security Strategy development process, during Spring and Summer 2018, we will prepare a comprehensive report to summarize the findings of the Winter 2018 community engagement. Additionally, select follow-up interviews will be conducted to fill information gaps and refine the content of the report. In Phase 3 (Fall 2018), the report will be presented to each community in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to verify its information and ensure that it effectively represents the perspectives and priorities of each community about how to improve food security.


  • Kenny, T.-A., X.F. Hu, H.V. Kuhnlein, S.D. Wesche, & H.M. Chan. (2018). Dietary sources of energy and nutrients in the contemporary diet of Inuit adults: Results from the Inuit Health Survey. Public Health Nutrition, 21(7), 1-13. Retrieved from
  • Kenny, J. MacLean, P. Gale, S. Keats, H.M. Chan, & S.D. Wesche. (2018). Linking health and the environment through education - A Traditional Food Program in Inuvik, Western Canadian Arctic. Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. DOI: 10.1080/19320248.2017.1420330. Retrieved from:
  • Medeiros A.S., Wood P., Wesche S.D., Bakaic M., & Peters J.F. (2017). Water Security for Northern Peoples: Review of threats to Arctic freshwater systems in Nunavut, Canada. Regional Environmental Change, 17, 635-647. Retrieved from
  • Wesche, S., O'Hare-Gordon, M., Robidoux, M., & Mason, C. (2016). Land-Based programs in the Northwest Territories: Building Indigenous food security and well-being from the ground up. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des Études Sur L'alimentation, 3(2), 23-48. Retrieved from
  • Wesche, S. D., & Armitage, D. R. (2014). Using qualitative scenarios to understand regional environmental change in the Canadian North. Regional Environmental Change, 14(3), 1095-1108. Retrieved from
  • Douglas, V., Chan, H. M., Wesche, S., Dickson, C., Kassi, N., Netro, L., & Williams, M. (2014). Reconciling traditional knowledge, food security, and climate change: experience from Old Crow, YT, Canada. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 8(1), 21-27. Retrieved from
  • Wesche, S., Schuster, R. C., Tobin, P., Dickson, C., Matthiessen, D., Graupe, S., & Chan, H. M. (2011). Community-based health research led by the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 70(4), 396-406. Retrieved from
  • Wolfe, B. B., Humphries, M. M., Pisaric, M. F., Balasubramaniam, A. M., Burn, C. R., Chan, L., ... & Lantz, T. (2011). Environmental change and traditional use of the Old Crow Flats in northern Canada: an IPY opportunity to meet the challenges of the new northern research paradigm. Arctic, 64(1), 127-135. Retrieved from
  • Wesche, S. D., & Chan, H. M. (2010). Adapting to the impacts of climate change on food security among Inuit in the Western Canadian Arctic. EcoHealth, 7(3), 361-373. Retrieved from
  • Wesche, S., & Armitage, D. R. (2010). ‘As Long as the Sun Shines, the Rivers Flow and Grass Grows’: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Environmental Change in Deninu Kue Traditional Territory, Northwest Territories. In Community adaptation and vulnerability in arctic regions (pp. 163-189). Springer Netherlands. Abstract available at:

View on the Aurora Research Institute Database