Sharing country food: connecting health, food security and cultural continuity in Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut
Food security is a complex topic defined not just by having enough nutritious food to eat but also by cost, safety and cultural considerations. In Arctic Inuit communities, food security is intimately connected to culture through traditional methods of harvesting country food. In Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut, community-based research was conducted in collaboration with Chesterfield Inlet community members using interviews and community engagement. Community members were consulted about the design of the interview guide, recruitment of participants, analysis and validation of results. This study aims to develop a theoretical framework of how food security, cultural continuity and community health and well-being are interconnected to allow for a richer understanding of how increased shipping, climate change and social changes are impacting community members. In Chesterfield Inlet, harvesting and consuming country food (e.g., seal) is perceived as the mechanism that connects food, culture and community health. Sharing of freshly harvested country food supports the food security of community members without hunters in their families, aligns with hunters’ cultural beliefs and promotes community health and well-being. Changes that reduce a hunter’s success in harvesting country food limit her or his ability to share country food, which negatively impacts community health and well-being. The results of this study support existing community efforts to adapt to changes that impact harvesting success.
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