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Stories of communities leading change in Northern Manitoba

Mabel and grandchild NMFCCC

In 2014, the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture, and Community Collaborative was established to work with communities to address the region’s serious food security challenges. In the remote communities in Northern Manitoba people struggle with very high rates of poverty, food insecurity, and related health issues. It was not always this way though, and community members have responded by launching an increasing number of innovative local solutions. Fishing cooperatives, gardens, wild food programs, bee apiaries, and greenhouses—these are just some of the ways northerners are using food to build community, improve health, strengthen local economies, provide opportunity for youth, and reclaim culture.

The Collaborative is a community-led funding model that believes positive change at a systems level starts at the local level and solutions are best understood and led by the people who are closest to the challenge. It is an active collaboration between funders, local northern advisors, and communities in the region. The shared goal is to revitalize cultural traditions, improve access to healthy foods, and develop resilient local economies.

Since its inception in 2014, the Collaborative has supported 54 diverse projects in 26 Northern Manitoba communities with more than $750,000 in grants. In 2015 alone the Collaborative supported 19 projects with grants totaling over $245,000.

Each year, the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture, and Community Collaborative shares a report of these inspiring communities leading change. In the recently released 2015 report, projects ranged from encouraging cultural practices through nature walks, medicine picking, and sweat lodges to building community infrastructure such as processing facilities, composters, and smokehouses. All initiatives increased local capacity, encouraged community development, supported the transfer of traditional food skills from Elders to youth, provided paid and unpaid local employment opportunities, mitigated the challenges of a cold, wet growing season in Northern Manitoba, and enhanced community resources and knowledge.

You can read about all the projects and their community-led work here.

As part of our focus on building strong local food systems for healthy people, healthy communities, and healthy environments across Canada, Tides Canada is proud to be able to work with Northern people and communities to host, fund and be the lead in the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture, and Community Collaborative. When produced sustainably and shared equitably, food builds community, improves health and local economies, and protects land and water.

Support and learn more about the work of the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture, and Community Collaborative.

Interview with Tara Marsden, Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Office

Gitanyow is a community nestled along the Kitwanga River in Northwestern BC. They are represented by the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs to establish modern treaties and implement First Nations conservation practices and land use planning for their territory. We interviewed Wilp Sustainability Director for the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Tara Marsden and learned more about the Gitanyow model of long-term conservation planning, the significance of observing and adopting First Nations values and methods in conservation, and the importance of flexible, multi-year granting.