Tajigoltieg – We are Healthy: Enhancing food security and mental wellbeing programs to manage COVID‑19 pandemic stressors in a remote Mi’kmaq community
Pandemic related stressors have presented an opportunity to address and mitigate the risks associated with food security and wellbeing programs in remote Indigenous communities. However, a significant gap remains regarding the development, evaluation, and updating of food security programs therein. Moreover, food security programs often lack in addressing Indigenous context within their plan guidelines. This program of research will evaluate and expand emergency food security and mental wellbeing programs in Miawpukek First Nation (MFN), under the guidance of the Health Director, Ada John. Our program of research has three objectives. First, to accelerate the development of wellbeing programming that connects food security, Indigenous Knowledge and wellbeing. Second, to evaluate the stress levels of residents in real-time to determine how impactful food asset initiatives and wellbeing interventions are while enduring a pandemic, and third, to assess how these recently acquired food assets contributed to food security, food sovereignty, and wellbeing during a pandemic and their potential as a long-term strategy within a remote First Nation community. The research program will implement traditional Indigenous food security practices and expand the existing MFN food asset initiatives to include health and wellbeing interventions to mitigate long and short-term pandemic-related stress. This would be achieved by accelerating the development of social programming that connects food security, co-designing the program using Two-Eyed Seeing practices, and evaluating the wellbeing (stress levels) of residents to determine the impact of food asset initiatives and wellbeing interventions while enduring a pandemic. Furthermore, we will also assess how these food assets contribute to long-term food security, food sovereignty, and wellbeing within a remote First Nation community by developing a best-practices framework for expansion to other communities.