Moving to the City from the Reserve: Perceived Changes in Food Choices






The purpose of the pilot study was twofold: 1) to develop a community / university partnership, and 2) to explore the eating experiences and use of traditional foods of Aboriginal adults who had moved to an urban centre from a reserve community.


A total of 13 females and 3 males, ranging in age from 21–48 years, who had moved into Winnipeg, Manitoba from First Nations communities in Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan filled out detailed questionnaires, participated in 1 of 2 focus groups, and generated 72 different responses to the question: How has moving to the city affected your eating? Another meeting was held during which 11 participants returned to group together the responses into themes.


The questionnaire data indicate that participants did not identify their diet, after moving to the city, as highly nutritious, but adequate. A significant change was reported in their consumption of traditional foods. The focus group data was analyzed using multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis, which resulted in seven distinct themes. These themes included:
1) changes related to access and use of fresh meat,
2) hunting and gathering activities,
3) presence of fast food,
4) the cultural value of sharing,
5) cooking facilities,
6) convenience of groceries, and
7) produce and dairy products.


There were some differences between the experiences of those in our study and the available literature in terms of diversity of experience among Aboriginal peoples, perceived positive aspects of dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as cultural aspects of food use, such as sharing.

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