This episode of Unikkaat / Circumpolar Waves is about Inuit Food sovereignty and Self-Governance. For thousands of years, Inuit have thrived in the Arctic relying on our knowledge and values. Core to our culture is hunting, fishing, gathering, and preparing foods. Today, many of our people face food insecurity.
Our food security requires accessibility, availability, culture, health and wellness, stability, and decision-making power and management. It also is distinctly tied to food sovereignty. Without food sovereignty, Inuit cannot achieve food security. This was a primary finding of ICC Alaska’s 2015 report, How to Assess Food Security from an Inuit Perspective.
The authors of the report stress that a lack of decision-making power and management authority to be the greatest threat to Inuit food security. One of the key recommendations of the 2015 report led to the Food Sovereignty and Self Governance project.
It led to a process to dig deeper into what supports or impedes Inuit food sovereignty. ICC Alaska teamed up with the Inuvialuit Game Council and the Fisheries Joint Management Committee in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region; in Alaska we worked with the Eskimo Walrus Commission, the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the Association of Village Council Presidents, and the Environmental Law Institute; ICC Canada played an advisory role throughout for this work.
You can get an idea of how large in scope this project was. It produced a comprehensive report called “Food Sovereignty and Self-Governance: Inuit Role in Managing Arctic Marine Resources”, published by ICC Alaska in 2020, which we refer to as the “FSSG” Report. The report uplifts Inuit voices to bring forward the roles and perspectives of Inuit to support equity and food sovereignty. It combines legal analysis with the lived experience of Inuit. It lays out very important connections to food sovereignty, such as language, biodiversity, climate change, research, monitoring, and over all that a holistic view and approach includes our food sovereignty. While also providing transformative recommendations.
There were about 90 Inuit contributing authors throughout this work. In this podcast, hosts Herb Nakimayak, ICC Canada Vice-President (International), and Carolina Behe, the Indigenous Knowledge and Science Advisor for ICC Alaska, speak with four of the contributing authors to the FSSG Report:
Vera Metcalf was born and raised in Savoonga (Sivungaq) on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska.
Lawrence Ruben from Paulatuk, Canada.
John Noksana from Tuktoyaktuk, Canada.
Robert Lekander is an Elder from Bethel, Alaska.
The Food Sovereignty and Self Governance (FSSG) Report is available online here in an English language PDF: https://bit.ly/3PxrkCs
For more in-depth background, including summary reports leading up to the FSSG Report, please visit the page on “Food Security and Food Sovereignty” on the ICC Alaska website here: https://bit.ly/3CnqTHQ
The drumming on this podcast is by the Barrow Dancers, from Utqiaġvik, Alaska.
For more information about ICC, check out the ICC websites. You can also go directly to iccalaska.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1732373. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.