Inuksiutit: Food Sovereignty in Nunavut and the co-production of country food knowledge

The Inuksiutit project (IFSNu) directly addresses food sovereignty issues in Inuit Nunangat communities. Inuksiuit – an Inuktut term for country food – can be translated as ‘that which makes us human’. Food sovereignty, as described by Inuit, is the right to healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food, and associated knowledge, language and cultural practices.

IFSNu is founded on the shared understanding that food connects us to each other, to our cultural heritage, and our environment. Community-based, collaborative, qualitative research, focused on the digital documentation of Inuit country food knowledge is a novel and integrated method to support health and wellbeing, climate resilience, intergenerational sharing, and creative expression. For Inuit, achieving food sovereignty requires a far reaching and holistic approach and is key to understanding the complex nature of colonization and identifying steps towards decolonization. IFSNu responds directly to challenges identified in the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) Food Security Strategy, the ITK Climate Change Strategy, and the National Inuit Strategy on Research, and aligns itself directly with calls for the creation of climate-resistant infrastructure to support the harvesting economy by (i) ensuring the intergenerational transmission of knowledge-practices about country food systems;(ii) fostering community wellbeing through capacity-building in younger generations of Inuit; and (iii) advancing local, regional, national and international understanding of the drivers of food insecurity among Inuit and their connections to climate change. Our research will define and implement pathways to food sovereignty applicable to Inuit Nunangat through close collaboration with community-based partners in two communities (Arviat and Mittimatalik) and UK partners. To meet our project goals, IFSNu brings together an interdisciplinary team of Inuit and non-Inuit academics, community-based researchers, Inuit knowledge holders, Elders and young people with expertise in: country food and Inuit nutrition, public health and epidemiology, social anthropology, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, participatory/Indigenous methodologies, curatorial practice, and Inuit visual and performing arts. The majority of the collaborative team is Inuit, and resident in Nunavut.Together, our research team will address the critical questions which matter in the context of climate change resilience and adaptation, circumpolar health and well-being, and social and environmental justice: In what ways do Inuit food stories renew social bonds with ancestors, uphold community customs, and foster healthy eating practices to support community health? How are Inuit food choices and possible food futures being affected by climate change? How can Inuit knowledge and food stories contribute to a fuller societal understanding of equity, justice and sustainability in Inuit Nunangat?

Grant reference
Natural Environment Research Council
Total awarded
£553,238 GBP
Start date
5 May 2022
2 years 10 months 30 days
End date
4 Apr 2025