Food Security and Health in Remote Northern Communities

When and Where

Monday, October 05, 2020 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm


Prof. Tracey Galloway, Anthropology, University of Toronto Mississauga


A large number of communities in Canada are located at considerable distance from urban centers. However Canada’s particular history has produced a landscape in which many essential services - such as health, education and retail - are organized around major metropolitan hubs. From a service delivery perspective, the federal government defines as “remote” communities that lack year-round surface transportation. Nearly all of the 118 communities with this “remote” designation are comprised of populations that are predominantly Indigenous. This presentation describes the landscape of service provision in Canada’s remote, northern communities, using retail food sales as a lens to examine how factors such as history and governance converge in the everyday realities of Indigenous people living in northern communities. High food costs are ubiquitous, and community-led efforts to solve the crisis of food insecurity are hampered by existing policy structures. The urgency of northern food insecurity is underscored by its health impacts, among them escalating rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Novel, Indigenous-led solutions are needed, among them a re-conception of how “remoteness” is operationalized in federal policy and service provision.

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This is a School of Cities Seminar Series "Building Resilience in Food and Health Supply Chains"

Supply chains are the primary societal infrastructure for the production, delivery, and recycling of goods and services. Though sometimes invisible, supply chains are the systems that ensure that flour is available in your grocery store, that hospitals have sufficient personal protective equipment, and that there are enough trained staff to administer medical tests, deliver babies, and check-out your groceries. While much of the effort in supply chains over the past 50 years has been to make them agile, fast, and cheap, there is a growing realization that supply chains must be able to adapt to disruptions from local events such as the inability for a plane to land due to weather to global changes such as the closing of the US-Canada border due to COVID-19.

This seminar series seeks to develop a multi-disciplinary understanding of resilient supply chains by examining two which are of critical importance to everyday life: food and health supply chains. The talks in this series look at these supply chains, both independently and together, through the inclusion of diverse speakers representing at least the following perspectives:

  • Supply Chain Optimization
  • Northern and Remote Food and Health Security
  • Urban Food Systems
  • Systems of Food Production
  • Healthcare Systems