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Government announces support for three new community-led Indigenous agriculture projects

The three initiatives will work to increase extension services for Indigenous farmers, grow traditional plants, and promote agritourism in Wikwemikong.

October 9, 2020  By Fruit and Vegetable

Under the Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative, the federal government will allocate $2.1 million in funding to support three new community-led Indigenous agriculture and food projects.

The funding was announced on October 9 by Neil Ellis, parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture and agri-food (AAFC), and Member of Parliament for Bay of Quinte.

Developing extension and business services

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). 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 Indian Agricultural Program of Ontario, is a First Nation, not-for-profit corporation that provides First Nation communities with financial support and training for Indigenous farmers and agri-businesses.

“Through the Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative, AAFC has taken an important step forward to support First Nation communities and producers in the Canadian agriculture sector,” said Amanda Ioannou, chairman of the Indian Agriculture Program of Ontario. “Working with our western counterparts, SIEF, IBC and FNAA, the funding will provide for the delivery of agriculture extension and business advisory services, as well as, CAP related initiatives, critical components to increasing First Nations agriculture opportunities and participation.”

In 2016, according to Statistics Canada, 15,765 people in Canada’s agricultural population identified as Indigenous, which represents 2.7 per cent of the agricultural population. Indigenous agricultural operators represented 1.9 per cent of the 270,720 agricultural operators in Canada, and were especially numerous in Western Canada.

Growing traditional plants

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. 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.

“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,” added Lynne Groulx, CEO of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Incorporated in 1974, the NWAC is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations, Métis and Inuit women. NWAC is an aggregate of thirteen Native women’s organizations from across Canada.

Supporting Indigenous agritourism

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.

Located on the eastern peninsula of Manitoulin Island, Wikwemikong Unceded Territory is home to the largest Anishnaabek community on the Island.

“Enaadmaagehjik is grateful for contribution to support Wikwemikong Tourisms goal to develop quality indigenous culinary tourism experiences in the Manitoulin island and Killarney region,” said Luke Wassegijig, tourism Manager for Wikwemikong Tourism.

“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,” said Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau.

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