Nutrition North Canada: Failure and Facade within the Northern Strategy

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Madeleine Chin-Yee
Benjamin Hull Chin-Yee


Food Security, Nutrition North Canada, Indigenous Health, Northern Strategy, Social Determinants of Health, Public Health


Food security is a universal human right and key determinant of health that remains elusive for many Canadians, particularly northern Indigenous peoples [1,2]. The Nutrition North Canada (NNC) program was implemented by the Conservative government in 2011 with the aim of making perishable foods more affordable and accessible in remote northern communities [3]. However, to date, this program has failed to meaningfully address the issue of northern food security. This article examines the reasons for NNCs failure, revealing flaws in the program that stem from its retail subsidy model, restrictive eligibility requirements, and lack of oversight and community consultation. In addition to these policy shortcomings, NNCs failure results from the federal government's threefold refusal to invest the needed finances for the health of Indigenous communities, to create the conditions for Aboriginal self-determination, and to respect and support First peoples' traditions and culture. NNC is ultimately ineffective because of its place within a "Northern Strategy" that is necessarily opposed to Indigenous wellness. NNCs failings underscore the need for new initiatives dedicated to tackling the issue of northern food insecurity to protect the health and flourishing of Indigenous peoples.