What Does Food Sovereignty Mean to the Homalco Community?

Author/s: Caitlyn Harrison

Creation date: 2019

Senior supervisor: Karen Ferguson

Keywords: Indigenous food sovereignty,  Indigenous food systems, Homalco First Nation, traditional foods, Indigenous self-determination,  decolonization

Geographic focus: Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada

Research question/s: How is the idea of food sovereignty conceptualized by the people of the Homalco First Nation in the city of Campbell River and what opportunities and barriers exist to realizing this model of food sovereignty?


Colonization and urbanization have had devastating impacts on Indigenous food systems in Canada. However, research shows that food sovereignty has the potential to strengthen Indigenous communities and improve health outcomes. This thesis explores how food sovereignty is conceptualized by the Homalco Nation in Campbell River, and the opportunities and barriers to realizing this model. This research contributes to a larger body of literature on urban Indigenous food sovereignty by providing insight into what this idea looks like in a specific community. While this information may not be generalizable to other Indigenous communities, it can improve understanding of Indigenous food sovereignty from a community perspective to help develop food initiatives and policies that address the needs of Indigenous peoples.



Harrison engaged in open-ended conversations with nine individuals, eight of whom were Homalco community members living on the reserve, to hear their food stories. Participants’ stories demonstrated the significance of land, specific foods, customs and values for Homalco food sovereignty. Participants highlighted the challenges that have arisen due to the community’s displacement from their traditional territory, as well as barriers including widespread poverty, food insecurity and negative health outcomes. There were opportunities among these barriers, such as community members being brought together through the band’s land in Campbell River, a renewed connection to their traditional territory and food sovereignty initiatives among the community. Harrison noted that while the Homalco community must be able to strive for food sovereignty on their own terms, that actions and commitments by various levels of government could better support food sovereignty in the community.