The Potential Role of Geographical Indications in Supporting Indigenous Food Systems in Canada.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Donna APPAVOO, Ryerson University, Canada
Monika KORZUN, University of Guelph, Canada
The European Union has encouraged the protection of agricultural products since the 1800s. Currently, the protection of agricultural products and foodstuffs is operated by a unified geographical indications (GIs) system that was implemented in 1992. GIs provide intellectual property protection and give permission to producers to use the registered name. Arguments in favour of GIs include the financial benefits to producers, viability of rural economies and the transparency about the products and their production. Others point to the protection of local and traditional knowledge required to produce cultural foods. Not only does this have the potential to empower rural communities, but help protect culture and traditional ways of life. As awareness of Indigenous peoples’ history and experiences continues to rise; the need to protect Indigenous knowledge and traditional ways of life, including Indigenous food systems is increasingly being recognized as a vital component of improving the complex circumstances of Indigenous populations in Canada. The Canadian market economy has largely expressed a critical view of GIs stating GIs are a form of protectionism and interfere with the free market. Nevertheless, the authors believe it is important to examine the potential role of GI schemes in Indigenous food systems in Canada. There is potential for GIs to not only protect traditional foods and culture, but to also empower communities, educate the public about Indigenous history and traditions and provide Indigenous producers with market protections. Issues arise when thinking about the geography and movement of Indigenous peoples, assigning agricultural products and foodstuffs to specific groups and the potential for exploiting Indigenous knowledge for profit. The paper will address these issues and aim to develop a concept map, outlining the potential actors required for implementation and the benefits and challenges of implementing GIs in Indigenous food systems in Canada.