Resurgence, refusal, and reconciliation through food movement organizations

A case study of Food Secure Canada’s 2018 Assembly

  • Heather L. Elliott Concordia University
  • Monica E. Mulrennan Concordia University
  • Alain Cuerrier Université de Montréal
Keywords: Food Movements, Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Social Movement Organizations, Reconciliation, Resurgence, Refusal, Settler Colonialism, Ethical Space, Organizational Development

Abstract

Indigenous food systems have been sites of deliberate and sustained disruption in the service of the settler colonial project on Turtle Island. The revitalization of traditional foodways is a powerful and popular means through which Indigenous Peoples are practicing cultural and political resurgence. We are at a crucial moment of societal reckoning reinforced by recent anti-racist uprisings and Indigenous Land Back actions. In this context, food movements have an important role to play in addressing ongoing colonial impacts on Indigenous food systems by supporting Indigenous Food Sovereignty as a way to advance reconciliation between settlers and Indigenous Peoples. Since its founding in 2005, Food Secure Canada (FSC) has become a national leader in food movements in Canada and its biennial Assembly is arguably the largest food movement event in the country. Despite its sustained engagement with Indigenous Peoples and significant efforts toward inclusion, its 2018 Assembly saw Indigenous people, Black people, and other people of color expressing important concerns, culminating in a walk-out on the last day. To understand how these events might guide transformative reconciliation in and through food movements, we analyzed 124 post-Assembly qualitative questionnaires, held 10 interviews, and analyzed organizational archives, in addition to conducting participant observation throughout the following year. This research portrays the actions taken at the Assembly to be a refusal of settler structures and processes, and the creation of a caucus space for Indigenous people, Black people, and other people of color as an act of resurgence. Engagement with FSC by a number of those involved with the protests throughout the year that followed, and the resultant commitment to center decolonization in FSC’s work, reveal the intimate connection between resurgence and reconciliation. These acts of generative refusal and resurgence are an essential part of efforts toward reconciliation without assimilation, aligned in a shared struggle toward the decolonized futures at the heart of food sovereignty for all.

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Author Biographies

Heather L. Elliott , Concordia University

M.Sc.; Department of Geography, Planning and Environment

Monica E. Mulrennan, Concordia University

Professor, Department of Geography, Planning and Environment

Alain Cuerrier, Université de Montréal

Botanist and researcher, Jardin botanique de Montréal, Institut de recherche en biologie végétale; Adjunct Professor, Université de Montréal

Published
2021-06-08
How to Cite
Elliott , H., Mulrennan, M., & Cuerrier, A. (2021). Resurgence, refusal, and reconciliation through food movement organizations: A case study of Food Secure Canada’s 2018 Assembly. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(3), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2021.103.009