Framing Food Fights: Considerations for enacting solidarity with Indigenous food sovereignty movements using an Environmental Justice lens

Authors: Monika Krzywania*, University of Northern British Columbia, Sarah De Leeuw*, University of Northern British Columbia
Topics: Food Systems, Indigenous Peoples, Social Geography
Keywords: Indigenous food sovereignty, Environmental Justice, settler-colonialism, capitalism, radical praxis
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 10
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The relevance of Environmental Justice (EJ) frameworks for conceptualizing Indigenous food sovereignty has been noted in academic literature. Limited research, however, exists about implementation of an EJ framework for Indigenous food sovereignty. This paper extends current thinking about EJ and food sovereignty, articulating unique considerations for applying EJ analysis in the study of Indigenous food sovereignty movements specifically. While Indigenous food sovereignty movements are pluralistic in nature, they are often united in overarching goals of promoting resurgence and reclamation of Indigenous food knowledges and practices. Indigenous food sovereignty movements document ways Indigenous food knowledges were (and, in many cases, continue to be) marginalized and delegitimated under (neo)colonial governance. Indigenous food sovereignty is enacted in everyday practices of honouring and nurturing relationships to land and water, which sustain human and non-human kin. While classic EJ analysis characterized stratification of environmental benefits and burdens by race and class, contemporary scholarship has moved beyond distributional justice to contextualize the exacerbation of existing structural inequities by neoliberal policies in settler-colonial societies. This paper leverages emergent applications in EJ scholarship to offer three recommendations for applying research supporting Indigenous food sovereignty. Firstly, analyses of environmental injustices in Indigenous food systems must examine the extractive violence of ongoing settler-colonial interference in addition to capitalist dispossession brought about by industrial agriculture. Secondly, these analyses must also honour the ontological positioning of land as kin. Lastly, actions for redress must respect and engage the sovereignty of Indigenous legal orders as a mechanism for transformative change.

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