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Community stories share local food successes in northern Manitoba

Food is the second biggest thing to language that makes us who we are. – Garden Hill First Nation Community Member

Brochet crew practicing ground development.

Brochet crew practicing ground development.

928 kilometres north of Winnipeg, Manitoba lies Barren Lands First Nation and Brochet. Facing high food costs, the community of just over 600 people expanded on an already existing interest in gardening by building a 14 x 20-foot greenhouse in 2013 in coordination with their local health centre and the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture, and Community Collaborative (NMFCCC). The project aims to grow good food, teach cooking skills, and create positive employment options and training for youth.

Malcolm, a youth garden participant, and his monster northern cabbage.

Malcolm Disbrowe, a youth garden participant, and his monster northern cabbage.

Four years on, the garden has doubled in size and includes five to seven youth and a few adults who help maintain the garden, as well as visit locals’ homes to help them build their own gardens. The yield is shared with elders and used in local food and cooking programs—further extending the positive impacts of the garden in the community.

This is only one of many inspiring examples from the NMFCCC 2016 Community Stories booklet, which shares stories and learnings from 18 communities. In 2016, NMFCCC supported 27 community projects with $566,500 in granting and other activities. From fishing co-ops to beekeeping projects, these stories illustrate the locally-created and driven initiatives that are helping northern Manitoba communities reclaim their culture, build youth skills and leadership, establish food sovereignty and economic opportunities, forge intergenerational and cross-community exchanges, and improve health and wellness.

Garden crew from left: Logan Mersaty, Josh Bighetty, Cassandra Bighetty, Rachelle Bighetty, Alanna Disbrowe, and Malcolm Disbrowe.

Garden crew from left: Logan Mersaty, Josh Bighetty, Cassandra Bighetty, Rachelle Bighetty, Alanna Disbrowe, and Malcolm Disbrowe.

Other 2016 highlights from NMFCCC are shared including a learning trip to Opaskwayak Cree Nation and Sherridon and learning exchanges in Leaf Rapids and O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation/South Indian Lake.

We thank the communities for sharing their stories, which are vital to the highly collaborative learning and processes of the NMFCCC.

NMFCCC’s vision is for healthier and stronger communities in northern Manitoba guided by mutually transformative partnerships. Tides Canada is proud to lead, host, and fund the Collaborative.