Skip to main content

Food Security; More Than Just An Economic Issue

February 11, 2016



Task Force students from JSIS 495C: The Arctic – A New Player in International Relations, traveled to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, from January 23rd to 30th, 2016 to engage in on-the-ground research with organizations and specialists in the field and learn about climate change and the current issues facing the Arctic region. Below are student articles of their trip and learning experience.

The Arctic Task Force met with Inuk artist and photographer Barry Pottle to discuss Indigenous food security, mental wellness, and education. Originally from Nunatsiavut in Labrador, Pottle now lives in Ottawa, where he works as a public servant and advocates for Inuit through his artwork. Pottle’s latest published photo series, “Foodland Security”, speaks to the difficulties Inuit face in accessing country foods, how damaging these difficulties are to Inuit culture and community, and how important country foods and the right and ability to access them are to Inuit. Pottle emphasized the importance of understanding Indigenous hunting practices and what that looks like (i.e., the culture, life, and beauty that surround hunting country food) if one desires to understand the depth of the issue, and even more so the impact of the issue on Inuit life. With melting ice, traditional hunting grounds have become harder to reach and dangerous to traverse, forcing Inuit to rely more on transported foods from the South, products that are normal in a western grocery store but very unnatural for a traditional Inuit diet. Additionally, with one barge delivering food once per year to the northern territories, exorbitant food costs have become another form of food insecurity, as Barry mentioned that a small bag of grapes can cost $28 and a turkey can be as much as $200.

Towards the end of his visit, Barry performed a traditional Inuit drumming demonstration using his qilaut (drum) and qatuk (beater) to beat the drum. Drumming, he explained, is for men in Inuit culture and is meant to be very expressive of the mood one wishes to convey or release. The practice of drumming is essential in releasing and relaxing one’s mind from daily stresses.

Author: Allison Rutz


This publication was made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.