Anisnabe Kekendazone Network Environment for Aboriginal Health Research

1 Stewart Street, Room 319
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Telephone: 1 613 562 5393
Fax: 1 613 562 5392


Foodways are the economic, social, and cultural practices around the production, distribution and consumption of food. They include people’s eating habits, how they gather, store, prepare and serve food, and their food sources.

Aboriginal communities each have their own traditional foodways that can incorporate: types of foods eaten; methods for hunting, harvesting and cooking; community feasts and cultural celebrations; and a spiritual connection to the land and the food they eat. In a short period of time, the food sources and practices in these communities have changed--often replaced by supermarkets and processed food. 

Changes in traditional foodways

Communities across Canada have experienced socio-cultural, environmental, and lifestyle changes in their traditional foodways. In many Aboriginal communities, traditional food has been replaced by processed food. Some foods, such as bannock, have lost their traditional roots and are made using modern methods with store-bought ingredients.

Communities also fear contamination of traditional on-reserve food sources, like hunting and fishing. Other traditional foods are no longer available due to loss of traditional knowledge, climate change and depletion of sources and land. Modern technologies and supermarkets have also reduced the amount of physical activity connected with growing and gathering food.

Foodways and diabetes

Communities see healthy diet and traditional foodways as key factors for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes--a common health problem in Aboriginal communities. If Aboriginal communities recovered and ate more traditional foods instead of processed food, how much diabetes risk might be avoided? In search of an answer, Aboriginal communities and AK researchers are building up research that looks at the role of traditional diet and foodways in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. The Mohawk of Akwesasne, Ontario/Quebec and the Miawpukek First Nation in Conne River, Newfoundland have already taken steps in this direction by documenting community views on the causes of diabetes. The Tlicho region in the Northwest Territories is working to increase community knowledge and skills related to diabetes in the Tlicho Government and the Tlicho Community Services Agency. To learn more about their initiative, you can watch the short film below. 

For more information and publications related to diabetes and foodways, visit our page on diabetes prevention research.



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