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State of the Northwest Territories Country Food Systems: Planning for Long Term Sustainability
Native plant species have the potential to be successful in the reclamation of northern habitats, because they are well adapted to local climatic conditions. This allows for better long-term survival, and fewer maintenance and fertilizer requirements. In the NWT, there has been a long recognized need for a source of native plant materials for reclamation purposes. Using native plant species for revegetation of disturbed habitats will help to maintain ecological integrity, natural successional processes, wildlife habitat, and environmental aesthetics.
The proposed project brings together researchers, policymakers and communities to undertake a baseline assessment of the state of wild food systems. The goal of the study is to include multiple knowledge perspectives (local, Indigenous, scientific, etc.) to support the development of evidence-based policies and programs that will help keep the wild foods of the NWT available for future generations.
The study kicked off with the NWT Country Foods Forum in Fort Smith, where Elders, land users, youth, and policy makers from each region gathered to discuss priorities and set the research direction. Data was collected through regional projects throughout the NWT, led by Indigenous governments in partnership with the research team.
The project was designed to be flexible so that each region could examine a country food priority that was relevant to their communities and that complimented the work already being done. Each Indigenous government determined a unique project, from fish monitoring, to building a local food security strategy, to a youth camp to collect land-based observations.
The research team conducted reviews of country food literature and policy. The findings of the regional projects will be analyzed to identify priorities, summarize base-line data, and make policy recommendations that will inform the development of GNWT-ENR’s Country food Strategy.
The study is funded by Polar Knowledge Canada with support from GNWT-ENR, Tides Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The study began in April 2017 and will conclude May 2019.
Jennifer Fresque-Baxter, Government of the Northwest Territories, Environment and Natural Resources
Steve Ellis, Tides Canada
Food, traditional food, food sustainability, community-based monitoring