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Ottawa earmarks $2.1M for Indigenous ag and food projects


October 13, 2020
By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (edited)

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Ottawa announced funding worth almost $2.1 million under the Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative to support three new community-led Indigenous agriculture and food initiatives, including a year-round greenhouse project.

The Indian Agricultural Program of Ontario (IAPO), based in Stirling, Ont., will receive up to $999,900 to provide comprehensive, culturally-relevant agricultural extension and business advisory services in Ontario and three Western provinces (Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta).

“Our government greatly appreciates the Indigenous farmers and food entrepreneurs who are stepping up to support their communities during the current pandemic crisis. In the spirit of respect and partnership, we will continue to make investments and help create equal opportunities for Indigenous Peoples in the agriculture sector,” says Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food

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The project aims to engage and to develop skills among First Nations communities in primary agriculture through Agricultural extension and business advisory services, to support awareness of and engagement in programs offered through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) will receive just over $1 million for a three year pilot project, growing traditional Indigenous plants and foods in a community garden as well as in a year-round winterized greenhouse, located on the rooftop of NWAC’s new head offices in Gatineau, Que.

“Through this ground-breaking greenhouse project, Indigenous women and gender-diverse people will share their traditional knowledge about foods and medicines. Our ultimate goal is for Indigenous communities across the country to grow their own foods and once again have access to affordable, nutritious, and safe food. NWAC is grateful for the support by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for our ground-breaking Indigenous Greenhouse Project,” says Lynne Groulx, CEO, NWAC.

The greenhouse will ensure a supply of medicines, herbs, fruits and vegetables year round for NWAC’s commercial kitchen, which caters NWAC training and workshops, offers training to Indigenous women in the culinary field, and supplies NWAC’s café where profits generated from sales go back in to supporting NWAC’s operations.

The Wikwemikong Development Commission was provided with $49,500 to plan and design a physical space in Wikwemikong that will support Indigenous agri-tourism. This includes promoting and enhancing local products, fostering knowledge transfer of Indigenous agricultural and culinary practices and, increasing support for Indigenous farmers, harvesters and producers in Manitoulin Island.

As part of the federal Strategic Partnerships Initiative, the objective of the Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative is to increase economic development opportunities of Indigenous Peoples and communities in Canada. This initiative will support Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs who are ready to launch agriculture and food systems projects and others who want to build their capacity to participate in the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector.

In 2016, 15,765 people in Canada’s agricultural population identified as Indigenous (2.7% of the agricultural population). Indigenous agricultural operators represented 5,160 (1.9%) of the 270,720 agricultural operators in Canada, and were especially numerous in Western Canada. (Statistics Canada)

IAFSI is a five-year (2018-2023) joint initiative with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs under the Strategic Partnerships Initiative (SPI), an innovative, horizontal initiative to boost Indigenous participation in economic growth. Funding under the IAFSI will support Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs who are ready to launch agriculture and food systems projects and others who want to build their capacity to participate in the sector.