AFN welcomes UN recommendations on food
Last updated 9/23/2012 at 2:08pm
OTTAWA, ON--On May 16, 2012, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo expressed gratitude to Dr. Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, for engaging with First Nations leaders and communities in gathering information regarding food security particularly in northern communities.
"With the environmental impacts of climate change and the challenges of access to nutritious foods in northern and remote communities, First Nations must be fully involved and supported in formulating solutions to protect our traditional foods and secure affordable access to nutritious foods," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, issued a statement which concluded that "...the situation of Aboriginal peoples raises specific concerns". De Schutter called for a reform of the Nutrition North Canada program that subsidizes retailers to serve remote communities. He also called for a structural approach to tackling the socio-economic and cultural barriers to opportunities for those living on reserves that result in their not enjoying fully their right to adequate food. Finally, he regretted that neither the Federal Government nor the provinces consider that they have a responsibility to support off-reserve Aboriginal peoples in overcoming the structural discrimination they face.
The Special Rapporteur notes that on-going land claims across the country have implications for the right to food among Indigenous peoples.
"The Special Rapporteur believes that continued and concerted measures are needed to develop new initiatives and reform existing ones, in consultation and in real partnership with indigenous peoples with the goal of strengthening indigenous peoples' own self-determination and decision-making over their affairs at all levels."
AFN provided a submission to the Special Rapporteur, offering an overview of the current state of food security and advocating for right to food priorities for First Nations in Canada, including the need to develop and implement a National Food Policy reflective of First Nation traditions and values; improved access to affordable and nutritious foods, including addressing rising costs in the North by implementing price regulations for staple foods such as milk and bread; the development and implementation of a national school nutrition program; and protection of the environment to ensure the safety of traditional food sources.
Food security, an important determinant of health, addresses one's ability to access adequate amounts of nutritious foods. The First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS 2008/10) indicates that 17.8% of First Nation adults aged 25-39 and 16.1% of First Nations adults aged 40-54 reported being hungry but did not eat due to lack of money for food. Comparably, only 7.7% of Canadian households were considered food insecure during 2007-2008.
Lack of access to nutritious foods contributes to growing rates of diabetes and other chronic diseases among First Nations.