From subsistence to commercial fishing in Northern Canada

Nicole Gombay (Centre for Society, Technology and Development (STANDD), McGill University, Montréal, Canada)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 1 July 2006



The purpose of this paper is to show that, until the 1960s, subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering were the mainstay of the economy for Inuit in the Eastern Canadian Arctic. This economy was sustained by the moral imperative that food should be shared with others whenever possible. The article explores the experience of one man in Nunavik (Northern Québec) who has started a business selling food.


The paper shows that regulatory challenges facing the industry are considered in relation to the moral dilemmas that need to be confronted in moving from an economy based on sharing food to an economy predicated on market exchange.

Practical implications

The paper concludes with a discussion about how this businessman has come to terms with his breaking of social norms about the sharing of food and his understanding of how, in doing so, he is representative of a new economic order amongst Inuit in Nunavik.


The paper shows that this is an original and novel subject for study.



Gombay, N. (2006), "From subsistence to commercial fishing in Northern Canada", British Food Journal, Vol. 108 No. 7, pp. 502-521.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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