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Indigenous communities, businesses get support to increase food security

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:49 PDT, Wed September 21, 2022

Indigenous communities and businesses in British Columbia wanting to increase food security will soon have opportunities to grow their farming and food-processing operations through the new Indigenous Food Systems and Agriculture Partnership Program.

"Supporting Indigenous communities to get the tools and help they need to be successful in the agricultural industry is a vital part of building community food security in B.C.," said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture and Food. "This program is helping build more resilient food systems in Indigenous communities and support growing Indigenous entrepreneurs, businesses, and economies around B.C."

As much as $80,000 per project will be provided through the new program for Indigenous-led projects that create benefits to the community, environment, or toward increasing food security within local food systems.

"We are honoured to have the opportunity to support Indigenous people increase their food security and sovereignty over their food systems with the Indigenous Food Systems and Agriculture Partnership Program," said Jack DeWit, chair, Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC. "Following extensive consultation with the Indigenous Advisory Council on Agriculture and Food, we hope this program and the projects that result will strengthen Indigenous people's success within the agriculture and agrifood sector."

The funding can be used for activities involved in agriculture, food processing and food systems planning, training and skills development, technological adoption, scaling up productivity and profitability, and climate-change adaptations. First Nations and Indigenous communities, businesses, and organizations are eligible to apply, and projects for both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations will be considered.

The Indigenous Food Systems and Agriculture Partnership Program was developed with the support of the B.C. Indigenous Advisory Council on Agriculture and Food (IACAF) to align with the council's mandate and support the Declaration Act Action Plan implementation to enhance the equitable participation of Indigenous people in the agriculture and food sector and support the realization of their food security, food sovereignty, and economic development objectives.

"The council is working in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to strengthen Indigenous food systems, increase Indigenous participation in the agriculture and food sector, and to ensure recognition of Indigenous food systems in providing for cultural, social, environmental, and economic well-being," said Patrick Michell, member, IACAF and former elected chief, Kanaka Bar Indian Band. "The IFSAP Program was developed with advice from council members in support of the council and ministry's shared priority to strengthen Indigenous food security, food sovereignty, and build Indigenous and regional food system resilience."

The program is funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Government of British Columbia, and is delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC. Applications for the program are being accepted from Sept. 26 until Oct. 31. To apply, visit: iafbc.ca/ifsap/

The B.C. Indigenous Advisory Council on Agriculture and Food (IACAF) was formed in July 2021 to work with the province to increase Indigenous participation in the agriculture and food sector and strengthen Indigenous food systems. In 2021, IACAF and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food co-developed a three-year strategic plan to guide the work of the council that includes three priority action areas to advance Indigenous people's priorities and address barriers in the agriculture and food sector. A progress report, summarizing the key completed activities and outcomes of the council’s first year of operation, is available.

To learn more about the Indigenous Food Systems and Agriculture Partnership Program, visit iafbc.ca/ifsap/

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