Indigenous Food Systems, Environment and Health

Course Number
5500 (Indigenous Health)

course description

This course introduces students to Indigenous peoples’ food, nutrition, and health issues. Using the concept of food security as a framework, food availability, accessibility, adequacy, and acceptability will be discussed in the context of historical and current Indigenous food systems. Indigenous peoples’ traditional territories are being transformed by settlers and by global economic, social and environmental influences.  This course will provide an overview of food systems and health issues by focusing on traditional and local food systems of Indigenous peoples, how these are changing with global influence, and the links to nutrition and health disparities.

course objectives

Traditional food systems are comprised by foods which are produced from the local environment using traditional Indigenous knowledge and reinforced by Indigenous cultural identity and sovereignty. Students will explore traditional and local food systems and the forces that are shaping the food choices and patterns in Indigenous communities, as well as examining cultural identity and self-determination.  Students will explore the shifting dietary intakes and their impact on Indigenous populations (i.e., obesity and Type 2 diabetes). Critical analysis of how nutrition issues fit into public health policy and healthy public policy are necessary.  Students will be able to characterize cultural, social, environmental, political and economic factors that have and continue to have influence on Indigenous food systems.

methods of assessment

Food System Intervention Critique: 20%
Student Presentation: 40%
Research Paper: 40%

Class Outline:

Week Topics
Week 1 Introduction and Review of Syllabus
Week 2 Introduction to food policy development in Canada
Week 3 Traditional Food Systems
Week 4 Sustainable Agriculture & Indigenous Environments
Week 5 Food Security
Week 6 Food, Culture and Market Foods
Week 7 Healthy Food Environments
Week 8 Student Presentations
Week 9 Economies, place and Indigenous food systems
Week 10 Climate Change & Human Rights
Week 11 Environmental Factors affecting food systems
Week 12 Indigenous health, food and environment

General Requirements

CHL5520H Indigenous Health should be taken concurrently or before this course.