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Environmental and health benefits of hunting lifestyles and diets for the Innu of Labrador

Samson, Colin and Pretty, Jules (2006) 'Environmental and health benefits of hunting lifestyles and diets for the Innu of Labrador.' Food Policy, 31 (6). pp. 528-553. ISSN 0306-9192

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The Innu of northern Labrador, Canada have undergone profound transitions in recent decades with important implications for conservation, food and health policy. The change from permanent nomadic hunting, gathering and trapping in 'the country' (nutshimit) to sedentary village life (known as 'sedentarisation') has been associated with a marked decline in physical and mental health. The overarching response of the national government has been to emphasize village-based and institutional solutions. We show that changing the balance back to country-based activities would address both the primary causes of the crisis and improve the health and well-being of the Innu. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, interviews with Innu older people (Tshenut), empirical data on nutrition and activity, and comparative data from the experiences of other indigenous peoples, we identify pertinent biological and environmental transitions of significance to the current plight of the Innu. We show that nutrition and physical activity transitions have had major negative impacts on individual and community health. However, hunting and its associated social and cultural forms is still a viable option as part of a mixed livelihood and economy in the environmentally significant boreal forests and tundra of northern Labrador. Cultural continuity through Innu hunting activities is a means to decelerate, and possibly reverse, their decline. We suggest four new policy areas to help restore country-based activities: (i) a food policy for country food; (ii) an outpost programme; (iii) ecotourism; and (iv) an amended school calendar. Finally, we indicate the implications of our analysis for people in other countries. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: indigenous peoples; Innu; sedentarisation; hunting; conservation; health; nutrition; physical activity
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2015 12:39
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 00:51

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