As the world’s population increases, as global markets become more interconnected, and as the effects of climate change become clearer, the issue of food insecurity is gaining traction at local, national, and international levels. The recent global economic crisis and increased food prices have drawn attention to the urgent situation of the world’s 870 million chronically undernourished people who face the number one worldwide risk to health: hunger and malnutrition. Although about 75% of the world’s undernourished people live in low-income, rural regions of developing countries, hunger is also an issue in Canada. In 2011, 1.6 million Canadian households, or slightly more than 12%, experienced some level of food insecurity. About one in eight households are affected, including 3.9 million individuals. Of these, 1.1 million are children. Food insecurity presents a particularly serious and growing challenge in Canada’s northern and remote Aboriginal communities (see Figure 1). Evidence from a variety of sources concludes that food insecurity among northern Aboriginal peoples is a problem that requires urgent attention to address and mitigate the serious impacts it has on health and well-being. Results from the 2007–2008 International Polar Year Inuit Health Survey indicate that Nunavut has the highest documented rate of food insecurity for any Indigenous population living in a developed country. According to estimates from the 2011 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), off-reserve Aboriginal households across Canada experience food insecurity at a rate that is more than double that of all Canadian households (27%). Recent data indicate that Canadian households with children have a higher prevalence of food insecurity than households without children, and preliminary evidence indicates that more women than men are affected.
Expert Panel on the State of Knowledge of Food Security in Northern Canada, Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada: An Assessment of the State of Knowledge (Ottawa: Council of Canadian Academies, 2014) (Chair: Harriet V Kuhnlein).