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 aims to provide an overview of additional surveys on household food insecurity among Indigenous communities.

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 First Nations people living on-reserve, who represent nearly half of status First Nations peoples in Canada.

Our 2021 estimates do not include data from the territories because they were not available at the publication. As a result, off-reserve Indigenous Peoples are underrepresented in our latest report due to the lack of data on those living in the territories.

Food insecurity in the territories, as previously documented through the CCHS, has always been extraordinarily high, especially in Nunavut. The most recently available CIS data were collected in 2020 and do not include marginal food insecurity, but continue to show similarly high rates of moderate and severe food insecurity in the territories (see page 15 of Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2021).

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.

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.

Statistics Canada Aboriginal Peoples Survey (2017)

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

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

Statistics Canada Aboriginal Peoples Survey (2012)

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

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

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

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

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).

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).

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.