Government of Canada works with communities and organizations to support food security for Indigenous Peoples during COVID-19

News release

May 26, 2021 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada / Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened food security concerns for Indigenous Peoples and communities. Indigenous Services Canada has been working with Indigenous partners and will continue to provide support and services to address the socioeconomic inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic.

Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, highlighted that the approximately $30 million in funding announced in December 2020 for food security has been allocated to increase Indigenous Peoples’ access to nutritious and traditional foods. This funding is in addition to other food security initiatives supported by the Indigenous Community Support Fund. Indigenous communities and organizations have used this funding to provide healthy meals and help put food on the table for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

Funding for food security was distributed to recipients across the country to support initiatives that help struggling families, for example:

  • Cowessess First Nation received $198,500 in funding to provide support to First Nations families in their community. This made it possible for Cowessess to purchase enough food for approximately 200 households on a monthly basis. Funding also went toward the delivery of food packages to assist community members in staying home and protecting themselves from being exposed to COVID-19 with unnecessary travel. 
  • Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada received $464,241 in funding and partnered with seven urban Inuit organizations to provide temporary food support to Inuit struggling with food insecurity because of the pandemic. This support included food vouchers, which were distributed to Inuit women and their families living outside of Inuit Nunangat.
  • Métis Nation British Columbia received $185,000 in funding to provide support to Métis individuals and families in British Columbia. Those in need received food hampers, grocery gift cards and grocery delivery service. A community fridge was also filled with fresh nutritious foods. Furthermore, Métis Nation British Columbia also launched its Home Garden Pilot Project to create more self-sufficiency in food security, where families were given seed starter packs and funds to purchase soil and gardening tools.
  • The National Association of Friendship Centres received $6 million in funding to provide support to urban Indigenous communities. In addition to addressing basic food and supply issues, Friendship Centres were able to fill gaps in culturally relevant programs and services, including in-person deliveries of food hampers, and elder and family check-ins. In Manitoba, one Friendship Centre saw a six fold increase in their food bank needs, including a drastic increase from an initial 50 hampers to over 300 hampers per month. In British Columbia, a Friendship Centre saw an increase of 70% in their food service operations.

These are just a few of the many partner organizations that benefited from this important funding for food security. With the added stress of living through a pandemic, Indigenous Peoples and communities should not have to worry about the basic necessities of life, such as access to healthy and nutritious foods.

The Government of Canada will continue to work with Indigenous partners and organizations to identify and respond to the unique needs that Indigenous Peoples face as the pandemic continues to unfold. 


“Ensuring the health and well-being of Indigenous Peoples remains a top priority for the Government of Canada. No person should have to worry about where they will get their next meal from. Over the course of the pandemic, the Indigenous Community Support Fund has helped improve access to food and increase food supply for Indigenous Peoples. Our government will continue to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples as the pandemic continues to unfold.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

“Access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food is critical for everyone and we recognize the pandemic has magnified food security challenges for Indigenous Peoples and Northerners. That is why, in addition to new investments in Nutrition North Canada and the introduction of the Harvesters Support Grant, our government is providing this needed support to partners to address food insecurity. We will continue to work together in collaboration with partners to support Indigenous-led and locally led solutions, ensuring that communities have the help they need to get through the pandemic and beyond.”

The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs

“Cowessess First Nation remains a low risk community, with over 60% of on-reserve members and staff vaccinated with at least one vaccine. The past 14 months have been exhausting and, with the Government of Canada’s quick responses to our requests and being a true ally, we will get through this pandemic.”

Chief Cadmus Delorme
Cowessess First Nation 

“We know many Inuit women living across Canada are struggling to feed their children nutritious food during the pandemic. This funding allowed Pauktuutit to partner with frontline urban Inuit organizations across Canada to quickly provide temporary food relief to families hit hard by the negative economic impact of COVID-19.”

Rebecca Kudloo, President

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the real and long-standing issue of food security in our society. The ability to create new initiatives that help make communities more self-sufficient, like the launch of Métis Nation British Columbia’s new Home Gardening Pilot Project, is the first step in addressing some of the gaps that exist. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, we must not lose sight of the importance of these investments, and how critical they are for creating healthy and self-sufficient communities.”

Lissa Dawn Smith, Acting President
Métis Nation British Columbia 

“The food security funds provided by the federal government are a welcomed addition to the wraparound supports that Friendship Centres have been providing during and prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic. These supports are not limited to just food and supplies, but also include several other factors, including hand-picked traditional medicine delivery, homemade meals, cultural grounding and in-person community delivery to combat pandemic loneliness, provide family check-in supports and more.”

Jocelyn Formsma, Executive Director
National Association of Friendship Centres 

Quick facts

  • On December 18, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that $30 million of the $100 million Emergency Food Security Fund was being transferred to ISC from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to help ensure access to food for Indigenous communities. 

  • Canada has invested approximately $1.1 billion in the Indigenous Community Support Fund to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and organizations prepare, prevent and respond to the pandemic.

  • Budget 2021 is investing an additional $760.8 million for the Indigenous Community Support Fund to help First Nations, Inuit, Métis Nation communities, and urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations serving Indigenous peoples meet the unique needs of their populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will provide funding to prevent the spread of COVID-19, support elders and vulnerable community members, provide mental health assistance and emergency response services, address food insecurity, and support children.

  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis also have access to other support measures available to Canadian individuals, businesses and industries through the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

  • Nutrition North Canada is an additional Government of Canada program that helps make nutritious food and some essential items more affordable and more accessible to residents in 116 isolated northern communities located in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Labrador. The program works directly with Indigenous and northern partners to understand and address their food security priorities.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Adrienne Vaupshas
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Angie Yellowbird
Executive Director
Cowessess First Nation

Catherine Whittaker
Communications and Media Relations
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

Nick Hosseinzadeh
Associate Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Métis Nation British Columbia
Mobile: 778-996-6425

Mike Bleskie
Communications Officer
National Association of Friendship Centres

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