Indigenous food production

2021 Census 5405 indigenous farmers.    FCC report says more support could add 1.5 Billion $ to primary ag GDP..  FCC part of the National Circle for Indigenous Agriculture and Food.

Indigenous peoples have farmed for years, but post European settlement, government put in place many restrictions on indigenous farming, including no homesteading,  restrictions on grain or produce selling without permits, and controls over food movements on and off reserves. Credit was nearly impossible. One of the consequences is that there have been significantly  fewer indigenous farmers that there would have been and alot of reserve land has been rented to non-indigenous farmer (Duncan, 2021; see also Robin et al., 2021).


Cowessess First Nations, SK has about 70,000 acres of agricultural land.  Rebuilding Angus beef herd since 2008. Farming grain on 5000 acres. Many challenges because of the historical state dispossessions related to agriculture.  Pushed out of the industry in the 1950s after farming since the 1880s. Their land is technically owned by the federal government although registered to them so some revenues (such as land rents) return to the feds and it's harder to get loans (can't use land as collateral, Indian Act supercedes the Bank Act).  Challenges getting equipment for grain production. Want to partner with beef and grain producers in the area, create nutrient exchange symmetries between pasture and grain operations (Briere, K. 2022. First Nations hope for return to beef industry. WP FEb. 24, p. 36.

3-4 million acres in SK of farmed land on reserves, mostly leased. SK ag department committed?

CAP funding NB

Spiritual / ecological connection to the earth; Land is living, food vs land sovereignty

Whitewashed Hope ,, A message from 10+ Indigenous leaders and organizations, Regenerative Agriculture & Permaculture offer narrow solutions to the climate crisis

"Indigenous peoples speak of our role AS Nature. (Actually, Indigenous languages often don't have a word for Nature, only a name for Earth and our Universe.) As cells and organs of Earth, we strive to fulfill our roles as her caregivers and caretakers. We often describe ourselves as "weavers", strengthening the bonds between all beings......

Indigenous cultures view the Earth as a communion of beings and not objects: All matter and energy is alive and conscious. Mountains, stones, water, and air are relatives and ancestors. Earth is a living being whose body we are all a part of. Life does not only occur when these elements are brought together; Life always is. No “thing” is ever dead; Life forms and transforms.

Indigenous cultures often share the view that there is no good, bad, or ideal—it is not our role to judge. Our role is to tend, care, and weave to maintain relationships of balance. We give ourselves to the land: Our breath and hands uplift her gardens, binding our life force together. No one is tainted by our touch, and we have the ability to heal as much as any other lifeform.

Among Indigenous cultures, people belong to land rather than land belonging to people. Healing of land MUST include healing of people and vice versa. Recognizing and processing the emotional traumas held in our bodies as descendants of assaulted, enslaved, and displaced peoples is necessary to the healing of land. Returning our rights to care for, harvest from, and relate to the land that birthed us is part of this recognition."

Historical - 3 sisters etc. the Haudenosaunee farmed long before European arrival, particularly corn, beans, and squash  (Monture, R. (2014). We share our matters: Two centuries of writing and resistance at Six Nations of the Grand River. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.4)

Assinniboine Community College Brandon training for indigenous ag equipment operators.


Aquaculture - 50 communities (

Large scale farming on the Prairies

NorthStar Agriculture have been retained by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun to help develop and manage their 320 acre farm

Urban agriculture

Personal and community gardens, containers, aquaponics and greenhouses are emerging in the territories.  Challenges include lack of funding, agricultural expertise, and physical spaces for production, and for aquaponics specifically,  regulations that take time to navigate, issues with heating, and delays with transporting key equipment north. Ross, P., & Mason, C. (2020). Examining Local Food Procurement, Adaptive Capacities and Resilience to Environmental Change in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur L’alimentation, 7(1), 20-43.

Many projects that need scaling up and out to advance indigenous food sovereignty (Robin, T. (2019). Our Hands at Work: Indigenous Food Sovereignty in Western Canada. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(B), 85-99

Sumner et al (2019) identified numerous local and indigenous led initiatives, including  "community gardens and greenhouses (58), followed by co-operatives (42), school gardens (17), food markets (9), community-based food programs (9), harvesting and hunting initiatives (5), education and training (5), institutional food (4), community kitchens (2), procurement initiatives (2), and single initiatives including but not limited to a food aid program, a food bank, a food distribution center, a combined food market–community garden–greenhouse, and a harvesting and a hunting initiative focused on food aid." "the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture, and Community Collaborative (NMFCCC), a not-for-profit organization made up of an interconnected group of people, communi-ties, organizations, and governments, which pro-vides financial and technical support to Indige-nous-led food initiatives. In a recent report, the NMFCCC (2017) highlighted 20 projects and thanked the many allies and partners who sup-ported them. Another example of leadership and support is the partnership between Indigenous communities and CHEP Good Food Inc" "Of the 167 alternative food procurement initiatives we identified, 42 were Indigenous co-ops,"

Indigenous seed production

The threats posed by game farms

Redesign.  A 2050 food system vision for Treaty 4 Treaty 4 settlement with federal government over denial of agricultural benefits.  $56.8 million. Aug. 2023

Canadian Agricultural Partnership programs to build up local food production and processing in the Territories

Beaufort Delta Small Scale Foods ProgramProvides funding and support for the

installation and establishment of gardens and greenhouses , as well as information
and skills seminars
"GNWT launched the first -ever territorial Agriculture Strategy in 2017 – The Business of Food: A Food Production Plan (GNWT, 2017), which includes actions under six pillars (Planning; Community Leadership, Partners and Collaboration; Regulatory Measures; Training and Capacity Building; Resources; and Food Production)." Kenny et al., 2018
Tsawwassen First Nation - KPU farm school.TFN has about 640 acres (260 hectares) of agriculturalland that potentiallycould be farmedby TFN citizens for their community and the larger Metro Vancouver market. Farming not always viewed positively by First Nations because of a history of suppression, lack of supports provided to others, and working in vegetable gardens in Residential schools a form of punishment. Mullinix, K. (2015). Guest Editorial: Working with Indigenous Peoples to Foster Sustainable Food Systems. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 5(4), 3-6.
BC Indigenous Advisory Council on Agriculture and Food
AAFC Indigenous  Agricultuure and Food Systems Initiative - 16 projects get $4 million.
Debate about the role of container production in the North.  Can it be done in ways that respect culture, food quality and economic control by local communities? Social enterprise better than commercial operation? The Kluane Lake Research Station(KLRS)in Southwest Yukon, Canada,is operated by the Arctic Institute of North America.  Wilkinson, A., Gerlach, C., Karlsson, M., & Penn, H. (2021). Controlled environment agriculture and containerized food production in northern North America.Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(4), 127–142. Probably only viable under specific energy, cultural and community control conditions.


Gerlach, S. C.,& Loring, P. A. (2013).Rebuilding northern foodsheds, sustainable food systems, community well-being, and food security.International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 72, Article 21560.

Loring, P.A., & Gerlach, S.C.(2015). Searching for progress on food security in the North American North: A research synthesis and meta-analysis of the peer-reviewed literature + supplementary appendix. ARCTIC, 68(3), 283–406.

2016 Census of Agriculture says about 1.9% of farmers are indigenous, about 5190, 70% Metis, 26% First Nations, 1% Inuit. Most are small scale, focusing on community needs and food security. Most in BC, Alberta, Sask. Growth in indigenous farms when everything else is shrinking.  Also more indigenous women than non-indigenous women in farming. Financing a big challenge. Indian Act prevents on-reserve from using assets for security.  Sometimes band approval required.  Off reserve financing also difficult for lack of credit history. Indian Agricultural Program of Ontario. CAP Agridiversity program designed to increase participation by under-represented groups. Money has gone to the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers and the Norther Farm Training Institute.  Also the federal Indigenous Agriculture and Food  Systems initiative ($8.5 million over 5 years).  House of Commons Ag committee report in June 2019. Briere, K. 2019. MPs offer ideas to support Indigenous farming. WP June 20, p. 42.  Program oversubscribed, max $5oo k per project

Agriculture as part of reconciliation - Treaty 7, finally honouring ag treaty obligations'.  Helping put land back in indigenous hands like the File Hills Colony in Southern SK (Fraser, D.S. 2021. Reconciling painful past may create hope. WP Sept. 30, p. 1).  Need to reform Indian Act to allow on reserve assets to count as collateral.  Healthy Cities REsearch initiative fund

Wilson, A., Levkoe, C., Andree, P., Skinner, K., Spring, A., Wesche, S., et al. (2020). Strengthening sustainable Northern Food Systems: federal policy constraints and potential opportunities. Arctic 73, 292–311.

Lemay, M. A., Radcliffe, J., Bysouth, D., & Spring, A. (2021). Northern Food Systems in Transition: The Role of the Emerging Agri-Food Industry in the Northwest Territories (Canada) Food System. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 5.

Price, Mindy Jewell, Alex Latta, Andrew Spring, Jennifer Temmer, Carla Johnston, Lloyd Chicot, Jessica Jumbo, and Margaret Leishman. 2022. “Agroecology in the North: Centering Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Land Stewardship in Agriculture ‘Frontiers.’” Agriculture and Human Values, April.

Rotz et al., 2023 file:///C:/Users/eucuser/Downloads/JAFSCD-It-Wasnt-Built-For-Us-May-2023.pdf