Research Activities

Environmental and cultural changes have an impact on traditional food systems and nutrition of Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Global similarities and significance include:

  • Attempts to conserve traditional subsistence within sensitive environments.
  • Increasing contaminant levels in traditional food due to pollution, e.g. from pesticide use.
  • Nutrient deficiencies resulting from discontinued use of traditional food resources altered by degradation of the environment.
  • Increasing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease when people move away from traditional diet and activity patterns.
  • Social, economic and political forces, for example land treaties or titles, that affect traditional lifestyle and access to traditional food resources.
  • Emphasis on biodiversity.

CINE is developing links with international organizations that focus on traditional food systems, nutrition and environmental issues. The CINE Governing Board promotes CINE’s activities at the international level as part of our long-term plan.

The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) is represented on CINE’s Governing Board, and their members are in Alaska, Russia, Greenland, and the Scandinavian countries as well as Canada.


Overview of Research at CINE

CINE has three primary areas of interest and activities:

Social sciences: determination of traditional and market food selection in relation to environment and culture. The various social forces contributing to changing dietary patterns and nutritional health are also examined.

Laboratory sciences: determination of nutrient and contaminant content in traditional food systems, wildlife, humans, and ecosystems.

Data analyses: determination of extent of food use in relation to nutrient and contaminant levels to address questions of holistic human nutrition and health, and benefit/risk evaluations.

CINE works in partnership with a community to:

  • Incorporate traditional knowledge
  • Provide community members with training and employment in projects
  • Ensure that methods are suitable and desired by the participating community
  • Ensure that results are reported back in a useful and useable manner through reports, workshops, presentations, posters, and newsletters.

Template for a Community Research Agreement with CINE Template for a Collaboration Understanding with CINE Researchers

CINE's research activities take place in communities of Indigenous Peoples and at the university:

With guidance of the CINE Governing Board over the last few years, CINE has worked in approximately 40 communities on issues related to traditional food systems, nutrition and the environment. In addition to community activities, research takes place at the university where the laboratory and computer facilities provide the tools required.

CINE's building at McGill has approximately 6000 square feet of space with an analytical laboratory, modern offices and a meeting room. The analytical laboratory is equipped to measure organic contaminants and heavy metals as well as micronutrients, minerals and vitamins.

CINE's data management lab has several PCs and access to mainframe computing facilities making it well able to handle the cumbersome data sets of large studies of food use and food composition. Our traditional food data base consists of nutrient values (minerals, vitamin A, macronutrients and fatty acids) for many of the mammals, birds and fish regularly consumed by Arctic Indigenous Peoples. There are many food species and their edible parts, for which no data yet exists, and sampling and analysis of these is an important contribution to new knowledge. A contaminant data base for traditional food is also in preparation.

Training and employment for community members:

An important part of CINE research activities is the training of community residents in good research technique, which is often done in a workshop setting. Several training workshops have been given by CINE staff for community members who then work as research assistants in sample collection and interview data gathering. An ultimate goal of this training is to provide expertise so that communities can learn how to conduct their own research projects.

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