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Ontario’s Indigenous communities receive funding for ag economic development plan


October 4, 2021
By Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

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The Ontario government is investing up to $550,335 to help the Anishinabek Nation establish an Agricultural Economic Blueprint to increase agri-food sector development opportunities for 39 First Nation communities across the province. The strategic plan will strengthen Indigenous communities, create jobs, and boost local economies by encouraging more Indigenous communities to participate in and benefit from Ontario’s dynamic agri-food sector.

“Ontario’s agri-food industry is growing and this project is a great way to encourage Indigenous people from across the province to embrace the importance of this sector to develop new economic opportunities in First Nation communities,” said Lisa Thompson, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs. “This pandemic has impacted us in so many ways, and by investing in initiatives that help increase agricultural awareness for Anishinabek Nation communities, our government is encouraging local agri-food economic development and improving access to healthy, local and nutritious food in Ontario.”

This three-year investment supports the creation of an agricultural economic development plan to help identify key priorities for Anishinabek Nation member communities’ participation in the agri-food sector, while supporting targeted activities to grow agri-food capacity and strengthen economic development opportunities in First Nation communities.

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As part of the activities under this project, the Anishinabek Nation will develop resources, tools and agricultural training for member First Nation communities, businesses and entrepreneurs located in the Southwest, Southeast, Lake Huron, and Northern Superior regions, facilitating their involvement in the agri-food sector, while building partnerships with the larger agricultural community. In addition, the project will secure greater participation of Anishinabek Nation youth to foster the skills they need to succeed in the agri-food industry.

With the high demand for food both domestically and globally, revitalizing Indigenous-led agriculture is key to supporting the competitiveness of the province’s agri-food sector. By expanding the knowledge of  areas such as agronomy, food production, greenhouse management, and business development, Ontario is providing strategic opportunities that will boost agri-food economic development in Indigenous communities.

“As Ontario’s agri-food sector continues to grow, it’s critical that all Ontarians can reap the benefits,” said Greg Rickford, minister of Indigenous affairs, and minister of northern development, mines, natural resources and forestry. “By encouraging more active involvement in Anishinabek Nation communities, we can build better job opportunities and careers, promote health and agri-food awareness, and create long-term economic growth throughout those communities and the province as a whole.”

“The Anishinabek Nation is pleased to be building on our relationship with the Ontario government to be able to provide our citizens with the resources, tools and training opportunities needed to enhance our participation in the agriculture and agri-food sector,” said Grand Council Chief, Reg Niganobe, Anishinabek Nation.

“The outcome of this agreement will allow us to build a strong foundation, which will create opportunities and economic growth to help our rural citizens prepare for the future. Traditionally, our communities have contributed to the food-based economy through fishing, the collection of wild rice, maple syrup, aquaculture and food services. This agreement opens the door to new agricultural technologies and techniques, which will allow us to enhance our knowledge and attract new industry while continuing to protect the environment in the face of climate change.”