labour justice and a different way of funding

“What does Indigenous sustenance sovereignty mean? How is this different from food security or food sovereignty?”


Food security was introduced at the first World Food Conference in 1974, and it has been reconceptualized each decade since by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and various authors. Initial understandings targeted market fluctuations and food supply, while modifications to the definition since then have been amended to focus on food access as well as social factors.1, 2

A key concern many Indigenous earth and seed workers in so-called Canada have voiced is the grant model. Numerous Indigenous communities and grassroots groups develop impactful programs and initiatives that nurture sustenance sovereignty but experience challenges with project sustainability beyond the limited grant lifecycle, which are often only between one and four years. A shift from donor perspectives away from the “new” and towards investment in life models and life projects if one avenue of change, but more sustainable and attainable paths include fostering peer-to-peer supports by connecting emerging or established Indigenous sustenance sovereignty initiatives with one another as well as offering connections to established non-Indigenous and multi-party programs and organizations that offer sustained collaborative potential. Collaborative, partnered, and peer-support opportunities and networks support the continuation and expansion of Indigenous seed initiatives’ and leaders’ efforts beyond and between funding cycles. 

Anishinaabe Indigenous food system actionist and community-based researcher Dr. Joseph LeBlanc:

“Funders are always looking for the next new project. Our efforts just start to take off, to thrive, and funding is cut or isn’t renewed so that the next new appealing thing can be funded instead. Funding projects are currently designed as temporary projects. Funding is provided for a few years based on a criteria and once it’s over our resiliency decreases. We need life projects, where funders support us in collaborating as families and communities to maintain our resurgent work as a way of life, not as a program or initiative.” – Joseph LeBlanc