Indigenous Food Insecurity

National data from Statistics Canada’s surveys show high rates of food insecurity among off-reserve Indigenous peoples. The situation is likely even worse given the underrepresentation of Indigenous communities in these surveys. This page describes efforts by others to better understand and report Indigenous food insecurity.

Measuring Indigenous food insecurity through CCHS and CIS

Indigenous Peoples refer to the original inhabitants of Canada and include Inuit, Métis, and First Nations living on- and off-reserve. National data on Indigenous Peoples and household food insecurity in Canada primarily come from the cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and now, the Canadian Income Survey (CIS). However, the CCHS and CIS exclude individuals living on-reserve, and thus data from these surveys do not represent the experience of on-reserve Indigenous Peoples, who represent nearly a half of the Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Household food insecurity data for the territories from the CIS have not been made available yet. As a result, off-reserve Indigenous Peoples are underrepresented due to the lack of data on those living in the territories. CCHS has long documented very high rates of household food insecurity in the territories, particularly Nunavut.

Household food insecurity in the North

Surveys of remote Northern communities, such as those in Nunatsiavut and Nunavik, reveal exceeding high rates of household food insecurity. People living in these communities are likely underrepresented in CCHS and CIS data due to limited survey coverage and sampling. Although the food insecurity statistics from these surveys are not easily comparable due to methodological differences, food insecurity among Indigenous People is likely even worse than it appears in national estimates from CCHS or CIS data given the underrepresentation.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national representative organization for Inuit in Canada, has launched “Qanuippitaa? National Inuit Health Survey”, a permanent Inuit-led survey that would reach all communities in Inuit Nunangat and support their Inuit Nunangat Food Security Strategy.

The following are links to results and reports from surveys of food insecurity among Indigenous Peoples in different regions at different times and for different subgroups. The statistics on food insecurity may not be comparable to that from CCHS or with each other due to differences in methodology or measurement tool used.

First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment Study (FNFNES) (2008–2018)

First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment Study. (2021) Summary of Findings and Recommendations for eight Assembly of First Nations regions 2008-2018.

Link to publication

Batal, M., Chan, H.M., Fediuk, K. et al. (2021) First Nations households living on-reserve experience food insecurity: prevalence and predictors among ninety-two First Nations communities across Canada. Can J Public Health. 112, 52–63.

Link to publication

Statistics Canada Aboriginal Peoples Survey (2017)

Custom tabulations in: Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. (2021) Inuit Nunangat Food Security Strategy.

Link to publication

Arriagada P., Hahmann T., O’Donnell V. (2020). Indigenous people in urban areas: vulnerabilities to the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19. Statistics Canada

Link to publication

Statistics Canada Aboriginal Peoples Survey (2012)

Wallace, S. Inuit Health: Selected findings from the 2012 Aboriginal People’s Survey. Statistics Canada. 2014.

Link to publication

Arriagada, P. Food insecurity among Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat. Insights on Canadian Society. Statistics Canada. 2017.

Link to publication

Statistics Canada. Food security by Aboriginal Identity (Table: 41-10-0009-01 ). 2015.

Link to table

Statistics Canada. Food security, Inuit population, by Inuit region of residence (Table: 41-10-0010-01). 2015.

Link to table

Nunavik Inuit Health Survey 2017, Qanuilirpitaa? How are we now? (2017)

Furgal, C., Pirkle C., Lemire, M., Lucas, M., Martin R. (2021). Food Security. Nunavik Inuit Health Survey 2017 Qanuilirpitaa? How are we now? Quebec: Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) & Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ).

Link to publication

Nunavik Inuit Health Survey 2004, Qanuippitaa? How are we? (2004)

Blanchet, C. & Rochette, L. (2008). Nutrition and Food Consumption among the Inuit of Nunavik. Nunavik Inuit Health Survey 2004, Qanuippitaa? How are we? Quebec: Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) & Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS).

Link to publication

First Nations Regional Health Survey (2015/2016)

Deaton, B. J., Scholz, A., & Lipka, B. (2020). An empirical assessment of food security on First Nations in Canada. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d’agroeconomie, 68(1), 5-19.

Link to publication

First Nations Information Governance Centre, National Report of the First Nations Regional Health Survey Phase 3: Volume Two, (Ottawa: 2018). Published in July 2018.

Link to publication

First Nations Regional Health Survey (2008/2010)

First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) (2012). First Nations Regional Health Survey (RHS) 2008/10: National report on adults, youth and children living in First Nations communities. Ottawa: FNIGC.

Link to publication

Inuit Food Security in Nunatsiavut Survey (2014)

McTavish, K., Furgal, C., Martin, R., Willson, E. &I HACC Team. (2017) Inuit Food Security in Nunatsiavut: The community-specific nature of a widespread public health issue. Poster presented at ArcticNet Arctic Change conference 2017.

Link to poster

Qanuippitali? International Polar Year Inuit Health Survey (2007-2008)

Rosol, R., Huet, C., Wood, M., Lennie, C., Osborne, G., & Egeland, G. M. (2011). Prevalence of affirmative responses to questions of food insecurity: International Polar Year Inuit Health Survey, 2007–2008. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 70(5), 488-497.

Link to publication

Centre For Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition And Environment. (2010). Inuit Health Survey 2007–2008.

Link to site

Egeland, G. M., Pacey, A., Cao, Z., & Sobol, I. (2010). Food insecurity among Inuit preschoolers: Nunavut Inuit child health survey, 2007–2008. CMAJ, 182(3), 243-248.

Link to publication

Huet, C., Rosol, R., & Egeland, G. M. (2012). The prevalence of food insecurity is high and the diet quality poor in Inuit communities. The Journal of Nutrition, 142(3), 541–547.

Link to publication

Nunavik Child Development Study (2005-2010)

Bradette-Laplante, M., Courtemanche, Y., Desrochers-Couture, M., Forget-Dubois, N., Bélanger, R. E., Ayotte, P., … & Muckle, G. (2020). Food insecurity and psychological distress in Inuit adolescents of Nunavik. Public Health Nutrition, 23(14), 2615-2625.

Link to publication

Ruiz-Castell, M., Muckle, G., Dewailly, É., Jacobson, J. L., Jacobson, S. W., Ayotte, P., & Riva, M. (2015). Household crowding and food insecurity among Inuit families with school-aged children in the Canadian Arctic. American journal of public health, 105(3), e122-e132.

Link to publication

Boucher, O., Jacobson, S. W., Plusquellec, P., Dewailly, É., Ayotte, P., Forget-Dubois, N., … & Muckle, G. (2012). Prenatal methylmercury, postnatal lead exposure, and evidence of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder among Inuit children in Arctic Quebec. Environmental health perspectives, 120(10), 1456-1461.

Link to publication

Nunavik Child Development Study (2005-2010)

Lawn, J., & Harvey, D. (2003). Nutrition and food security in Kugaaruk, Nunavut. Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa, Ont.

Link to publication