Feeding the family during times of stress: experience and determinants of food insecurity in an Inuit community

Geogr J. 2011;177(1):44-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2010.00374.x.


This paper uses a mixed methods approach to characterise the experience of food insecurity among Inuit community members in Igloolik, Nunavut, and examine the conditions and processes that constrain access, availability, and quality of food. We conducted semi-structured interviews (n= 66) and focus groups (n= 10) with community members, and key informant interviews with local and territorial health professionals and policymakers (n= 19). The study indicates widespread experience of food insecurity. Even individuals and households who were food secure at the time of the research had experienced food insecurity in the recent past, with food insecurity largely transitory in nature. Multiple determinants of food insecurity operating over different spatial-temporal scales are identified, including food affordability and budgeting, food knowledge and preferences, food quality and availability, environmental stress, declining hunting activity, and the cost of harvesting. These determinants are operating in the context of changing livelihoods and climate change, which in many cases are exacerbating food insecurity, although high-order manifestations of food insecurity (that is, starvation) are no longer experienced.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Services / economics
  • Community Health Services / history
  • Community Health Services / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Community Networks* / economics
  • Community Networks* / history
  • Community Networks* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Family / ethnology
  • Family / history
  • Family / psychology
  • Family Health* / ethnology
  • Food Supply* / economics
  • Food Supply* / history
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Nunavut / ethnology
  • Population Groups* / education
  • Population Groups* / ethnology
  • Population Groups* / history
  • Population Groups* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Population Groups* / psychology
  • Starvation* / economics
  • Starvation* / ethnology
  • Starvation* / history
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Stress, Psychological / economics
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • Stress, Psychological / history