Sustainability and Vulnerability : Aboriginal Arctic food security in a toxic world

  • Thompson S
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This chapter focuses on the factors compromising sustainability and food security of Inuit in Nunavut. "Toxic" impacts in the Arctic that undermine sustainable livelihoods go beyond merely mercury and presistent organic pollutants (POPs) contamination and include climate change and Eurocentric autocratic government policy that has included relocating Aboriginal peoples. Hofrichter (2000, 1) applies the term "toxic culture" to show how social arrangements encourage and excuse the deterioration of the environment, culture, and human health. Atmospheric pollution, over which northerners have little control, debases the sustainable lifestyles of Aboriginal peoples, as does depleting resources (e.g., Peary Caribou are endangered in the High Arctic and in Banks Island and threatened in low Arctic), restricting hunting and gathering (e.g., harvesting limits exist for polar bears, Beluga whales, etc.) and government policies that disregard place-based knowledge (e.g., mandatory schooling focussed on Euro-Canadian culture, and relocation) (Marcus 1995). ... Today's global food system is dependent on mechanization, large inputs of fertilizer and pesticides, mono-cropping, green revolution-and bio-technologies, processing or refrigeration, as well as vast transportation, marketing, and supermarket networks (Gottlieb 2002). In contrast, Inuit hunting and gathering derives food from local sources in the natural, unmanipulated environment. ... This chapter first looks at the importance and vulnerability of food security and subsistence activities before looking at the impact of environmental change on food security in Nunavut's Inuit communities due to: 1) poverty undermining food security; 2) contamination causing toxic impacts; and 3) government policies restricting access to land and resources.

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  • Shirley Thompson

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