Niriqatiginnga:A Framework for Northern Food Systems Innovation

Introducing one of our latest projects: Niriqatiginnga: Enhancing A Framework for Northern Indigenous Food Systems Innovation. This proposed, new pilot program is being designed to tackle food insecurity in northern communities through creative arts, cultural entrepreneurship, and technology-driven solutions.

This project’s main purpose is to incubate technology and data-driven research and innovation, capacity building, collaborative partnerships, and advocacy for policy initiatives.

Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba,the project seeks to provide guidance, training, and tools to help Inuit, First Nations, and Metis social entrepreneurs, Nutrition North Canada suppliers, and stakeholders to collectively implement more accountable, efficient, and cost-effective processes and systems.

In partnership with the Arctic Buying Company, these proposed technology and framework enhancements, are intended to reduce northern hunger by providing accessible information on healthy food options, cooking methods, and food preservation techniques. With the empowerment of northern communities and peoples to make informed decisions, we aim to improve overall well-being.

One unique aspect of this project is its focus on grassroots and community-driven approaches to address the challenges faced by urban and newly-urban Indigenous emerging artists and cultural entrepreneurs during the Covid-19 pandemic. The project also seeks to develop sector-wide and cross-sector collaborations, partnerships, and networks.

Through exploring creative methods and sectoral approaches aimed at increasing digital and data literacy, our goal is that this project will also support ongoing digital transformation for emerging food systems innovation and the development of new talent for the agri-food and agriculture sectors.

Proposed skills development and training will cover various aspects, including technical skills development on how to operate and maintain the digital platform, data collection and analysis, and creatively communicating best practices for food production, storage, and distribution.

This new program will build on previous research such as the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy established by the ArcticNet Network Centre of Excellence in 2020-2021. Elements of this program have been piloted and tested over the course of three years supported by the United States National Science Foundation (2018-2021, Award #1758814), Canada Council for the ArtsDigital Greenhouse(2022, Award #7015-21-0023) and Manitoba Arts CouncilIndigenous 360 Program (2023, Award #2022-1810).

“We’re blending together an innovative fusion of traditional and technological approaches to accessing food processing, storage, transportation, and distribution systems that are adapted to the unique cultural, geographic, and economic conditions of our Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions,”said Arctic Buying Company Kivalliq CEO Tara Tootoo Fotheringham. “We want to build up what we’ve prototyped as a way to boost the efficiency, sustainability, and resilience of northern food supply chains.”Engaging in collaborative and relationship-building practices with Inuit and Indigenous businesses, communities, and knowledge holders, she said, will ensure the framework is developed and implemented in ways that are respectful of all stakeholder perspectives and needs.