Sustaining a Local-food Security Initiative in a Remote Subarctic Community: Engaging Canadian First Nation Youth in Agroforestry-Community Gardens

By Andrea D. Isogai, Erin Alexiuk, Holly Gardner, Daniel McCarthy, Vicky Edwards, Leonard J. S. Tsuji and Nicole Spiegelaar.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Fort Albany First Nation of sub-Arctic Ontario, Canada, in collaboration with the University of Waterloo, has begun implementing an agroforestry community gardens (AFCGs) initiative as an alternative to the existing, non-sustainable, expensive import-based food system. In addition, community members have recognized the potential importance of this initiative in contributing to the food security of future generations. Thus, adults have inquired as to how the youth may be included in the AFCGs initiative.
This study engaged the youth of Fort Albany in the AFCGs initiative to gain insight into their perspectives on local food security. An environmental outreach camp has been run in the community for approximately eight years and was used as the vehicle for the engagement project. The overall goal was to engage the youth in local food issues, current import substitution efforts, and food security. Fifteen students participated in the camp. The outreach followed place-based teaching methods, as they are complementary to traditional pedagogies which emphasize activities that are hands-on and experiential. A web-based collaborative geomatics informatics tool developed in partnership with the community was used to directly involve youth in the AFCGs initiative. Each student was provided with a global positioning system and asked to take geo-referenced photographs related to local food security and import substitution. The photographs taken by the youth were used to elicit their perspectives on food security and import substitution and stored on the informatics tool where other community members could view them. The results of the outreach program will be used to develop a camp model for the community to help sustain youth involvement in local food security.

Keywords: First Nations, Food Security, Youth, Local-Import Substitution, Agroforestry, Sustainability

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 10, Issue 3-4, July 2015, pp.1-17. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 934.628KB).

Andrea D. Isogai

Master Degree Student, Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Erin Alexiuk

Master Degree Student, Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Holly Gardner

PhD Candidate, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Daniel McCarthy

Assistant Professor, Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Vicky Edwards

Research Associate, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Leonard J. S. Tsuji

Professor, Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Nicole Spiegelaar

Research Assistant, Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada