The Martin Family Initiative (MFI) is keenly aware of the challenges Indigenous People in Canada face with regards to food security. Food in northern communities is in short supply, expensive, and often of lower-quality.
The Food Sustainability Program (FSP) supports Indigenous communities in addressing food insecurity through hands-on learning approaches and engaging elementary and high school students.
Through its programming, FSP acknowledges the rich history and relationship Indigenous People have with the land. MFI works with each community to identify actions that will provide greater food sovereignty. Engaging elementary and high school students is critical for the prosperity of a community. MFI recognizes the importance of Elders and traditional knowledge keepers to guide community action and sharing traditional ways with youth.
Although COVID-19 has interrupted regular transport services bringing food to remote areas, one community in FSP was able to share produce grown in their greenhouse with five other neighboring communities. Nevertheless, since the beginning of the pandemic, MFI has been approached by several Indigenous communities negatively affected by the irregular food supply.
As part of our collaboration, MFI:
- Provides a platform for educators and community members to access information, including resources that could support classroom learning, share their successes, and seek support from other participating communities and Indigenous leaders.
- Supports the community vision of food sovereignty.
- Nurtures relationships with designated community representatives through regular and consistent contact.
- Supports the development of a growth system.
- Visits and meets with community members and stakeholders.
- Connects communities with experts in a wide variety of fields, acting as a liaison when it is helpful to do so.
- To increase access to affordable, fresh food.
- To provide a hands-on educational experience regarding food and growing practices.
- To facilitate conversations around traditional Indigenous food and gathering practices.
- To participate in community engagement with the question of food production, specific to their context.
- To engage at a community level with the question of food sovereignty specific to their context.
- Elementary school garden club
- Community composting
- Community cold cellar
- Expanding the stakeholders to include the health authority
- Both the elementary school and the high school started to offer a fresh buffet at no cost to students.
- Students are learning about traditional food practices such as hunting, fishing, wild rice collecting, and berry picking. A cultural camp has been set-up to support these activities.
- Between April 2020 and July 2020,, teachers and community members prepared and distributed 150 Good Food Boxes every Saturday to Elders, students’ families, and anyone else in need.