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Results from the Reimaging Food Systems project in Prince Rupert, BC (2024)

Royal Roads University and the Public Health Association of BC (PHABC) collaborated with Ecotrust Canada on a Reimagining Food Systems project, focusing on decolonization and social justice. Throughout 2022 and 2023, we held workshops in Prince Rupert, BC, that explored innovative approaches to transforming our food future. The recommendations and findings from that project can be adapted to similar communities and regions. PHABC developed a Food Justice Community Planning Tool and Just Food System Evaluation Framework, which has been published on their site. The tool was developed from a process involving Prince George, Revelstoke, and Prince Rupert. 

Workshop Report – Equity Planning Tool for Community Food Systems Transformation, Prince Rupert, BC

Project background and purpose

The Equity Planning Tool for Community Food Systems workshop was held in Prince Rupert, British Columbia (BC), the unceded territories of Tsimshian First Nations (Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Metlakatla, Gitga’at, Kitasoo/Xaixais). Several environmental (e.g., flooding, wildfires) and socioeconomic (e.g., pandemic, inflation) shocks have impacted food supply chains with cascading impacts to local food access, security, and sovereignty, and these impacts are unequally distributed across communities. Marginalised groups are disproportionately impacted and experience inequities in food, health, income, labour, and representation in decision-making spaces (Horst et al., 2017). Local communities across BC have expressed interest in integrating and centring social justice and decolonial practices in food systems planning and (re)development but are unsure of how to get started, what gaps exist, and where to orient their time and effort(Topley, 2021). A community-engaged participatory research effort, the Reimagining Food Systemsproject, was conducted to address these food system inequities and capacity (skills, knowledge, resources) challenges. The project centred justice and decolonial practices in food systems planning and interventions (Dring et al., 2022). In May 2022, Royal Roads University (RRU) and the Public Health Association of BC (PHABC), in collaboration with Ecotrust Canada, launched the Reimagining Food Systems project (details can be found in Appendix A). The project used workshop methods that engaged stakeholder and community members in exploration of local food justice issues and the development and application of tools for supporting efforts to address these issues. This report focuses on a workshop held in the community of Prince Rupert in May 2023.

The Reimagining Food Systems project had two aims:

  1. Build community capacity to integrate justice into food system interventions and efforts in Prince Rupert, BC.
  2. Develop tools that can support local food systems planning and policy (e.g., food justice planning tool, food system evaluation framework).

Conclusions and Recommendations

Participants expressed great satisfaction with the workshop, with many sharing that they appreciated the opportunity to connect and network with others over these issues. The participants enjoyed having deep conversations with like-minded people and being able to engage with the subject matter in a humanising, inclusive, and intimate setting. This was described by one person in their workshop feedback: “[I loved] space to convene without judgement with a small intimate group using inclusive language.” Additionally, participants found the power mapping activity to be quite useful in laying out the actors and their relationships across the Prince Rupert food system. From our analysis, we outline the following recommendations for next steps building on the findings from this workshop:

  1. Establish a formal food system governance structure such as a food policy council or advisory committee. This would provide food system actors with a mandate and space to convene, coordinate, and address current and future issues in Prince Rupert and the surrounding region. There are many disparate food actors across the region with few formal and informal opportunities for knowledge exchange, coordination, and shared decision-making. This is particularly important given the demographic makeup of Prince Rupert and the need for food system governance that respects and honours Indigenous Food Sovereignty and the importance of traditional foodways. Efforts are needed that can bridge Settler and Indigenous communities to show up in respectful, reciprocal and accountable ways where shared protocols are developed to address legacies of dispossession and culture loss faced by Tsimshian and Nisga’a peoples living in Prince Rupert.
  2. Integrate food sovereignty principles into food planning and the development of food justice actions. Food sovereignty in the region is an ongoing challenge given the shift in reliance on global and distant supply chains, highly processed foods, and distribution based on a just-in-time supply. A key area of application from this workshop is its integration into food planning and the development of actions that lead to just and anticolonial food futures. Planning efforts are needed that can outline long-term visions and goals to build resilience in the face of impending climate change. This is particularly relevant as climate impacts will disproportionately impact coastal communities and food and water access will be of particular concern for those that do not have the privilege of migrating in the face of climate-related shocks.
  3. Engage in ongoing training and workshops to support food systems actors in their efforts to enact and implement food justice planning and interventions. Participants highlighted that they found the workshop structure hard to follow as there were many steps and directions. This is a common challenge when privileging cognitive or mental processes and activities. Informal and ongoing training and workshops are needed that can support people to enact the ideas presented in this workshop and the previous Justice, Equity, Decolonial Practices and Inclusion workshop. This could be further supplemented with opportunities for regular convening such as kitchen table talks, communities of practice, and/or coaching and mentorship. The next phase of the work will involve applying lessons learned in this workshop to further build the capacity of local food actors to integrate social justice into their activities. It will also entail exploration and application of a Just Food Evaluation Framework to support coordination and evaluation of food system activities.
Read the full report: Workshop Report – Equity Planning Tool for Community Food Systems Transformation in Prince Rupert (2024)


Justice, Equity, Decolonial Practices, and Inclusion in Food Systems Change Training Workshop


The first phase of this project aimed to contextualize and create a shared language across non-profit organizations, local government (e.g., municipal, regional, health authority, school district), and other food actors (e.g., farmers, food retailers). To this end, a Justice, Equity, Decolonial Practices, and Inclusion (JEDI) workshop and subsequent coaching sessions were delivered to community members and stakeholders. The project team (RRU, PHABC, Ecotrust Canada) designed this workshop with the goals of:

  1. Building a shared language and understanding of key terms found within social justice and decolonizing food systems knowledge systems.
  2. Establishing connections across Prince Rupert to begin the task of relational accountability.
  3. Building community capacity for staying with the difficulties, discomforts, complexities and uncertainties that inevitably emerge when doing JEDI work, without becoming overwhelmed or seeking quick solutions.
  4. Building a foundation that can dismantle and rebuild food systems (and beyond).

The JEDI workshop was held on January 18, 2023, from 9am to 12pm, at the Coastal Business Resource Centre in Prince Rupert, BC. There were a total of ten participants from non-profit organizations, provincial and local government staff, and educational organizations (college and school district) (see Appendix B for attendee organizations). The absence of stakeholders with insights into food production, distribution, processing, retail, and public health are noted and warrant follow-up engagement.


Advancing and making progress toward integrating justice and decolonial practices into food systems requires several steps and conditions. The first step is to acknowledge and recognize that we are colonial beings. The second involves decolonizing our own habits, thoughts and actions, which is incredibly challenging as these have been conditioned and reinforced for years. Doing so in isolation from others is particularly challenging, and collective approaches are needed (e.g., communities of practice, kitchen table talks, food policy councils, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour caucusing) that centre support, care, and reciprocity. Finally, interrupting patterns and years of conditioning is necessary and requires stamina, humility, playfulness, and seriousness. We emphatically emphasize the importance of care and of support in reciprocal ways. Meaning that people across this community give and receive care and are accountable to one another in ways that can continue over the long haul. Ultimately, doing just, equitable, decolonial, and inclusive work requires stamina but will rely on strong relationships between people in and beyond Prince Rupert, to the Land, and to other living beings.

Read the full report: JEDI in Food Systems Training Workshop – Prince Rupert (2024)


[Published April 23, 2024]