Buying Social Justice: Social Procurement and Community Development in Indigenous Communities in Canada
Much has rightly been made in recent years about the intractable social, economic, and cultural issues facing Indigenous people (TRC 2015). However, media, academic and popular attention has largely remained on developing a general (often paternalistic) awareness of these problems rather than focusing on actually existing solutions. This is particularly true in terms of food. The astronomical cost of fresh and nutritious food and the negative results of the 'nutrition transition' to lower-cost industrial food in Indigenous communities have been identified in some quarters, but not the collective solutions community residents have devised to overcome these challenges.
This project focused on alternative food procurement in Canadian Indigenous communities, and how a networked web of neoliberal government policy, private-market profiteers and structural colonial oppression and racism has obstructed place-based, community-led sustainable food solutions offered by emerging and existing Indigenous social economy organizations and social enterprises. Such solutions have generally been avoided in Canada because they do not fit easily into the prevailing neoliberal conception of economics, contradict the dominant narrative of a just Canada, and raise questions about what the economy should look like in an ideal world.
The project researched and mapped sites of alternative food procurement in Indigenous communities. Research findings suggest several trends among these initiatives: they are place-based and respond directly to local problems; they are predominantly led by Indigenous communities and often supported by other organizations; most of them are food co-operatives; there is a surge in community and school gardens, some of which evolve into co-ops; and hospitals and universities are becoming involved with traditional foods. Overall, this research illustrated replicable, scalable social enterprises that are having a demonstrably positive impact on food procurement in Indigenous communities.
Publications & Conference Presentations
- Building sustainable local food solutions: How Canadian Indigenous communities are using the social and solidarity economy to implement zero hunger (by Jennifer Sumner, M. Derya Tarhan and J.J. McMurtry) at the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE) International Conference in Geneva in June 2019
- Eating in place: Mapping alternative food procurement in Canadian Indigenous communities (by Jennifer Sumner, M. Derya Tarhan and J.J. McMurtry) in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development in December 2019
This map shows projects through which Indigenous communities across Canada are procuring/growing/selling/preparing/eating in traditional and/or innovative ways.
To learn more about Buying Social Justice: Social Procurement and Community Development in Indigenous Communities in Canada, please email Jennifer Sumner at email@example.com.