Two projects that aim to increase food security in Northwest Territories communities will get a combined $461,939 in federal funding.
The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency announced on Friday that nine projects across all three territories had been granted a total of $2 million as part of its Northern Food Innovation Challenge.
“Food security is about more than putting food on the table. It’s about continuing to build resiliency and foster northern innovation to address key challenges in complex northern food systems,” NWT Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Shane Thompson said in a statement.
“Access to food, especially in our most remote communities, is a northern challenge, and these investments will strengthen northern-driven solutions.”
Among the approved projects is the Fort Simpson Métis Development Corporation’s “bison farm to folk program.” Through the program, the Métis Nation plans to establish a bison ranch and meat processing facility in the Dehcho region.
In a letter sent to the Town of Hay River’s mayor and council in March, Daniel Peterson, president of the Fort Simpson Métis Nation, said benefits to raising and processing meat in the territory could include lowering the cost of living and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The federal funding will help support a feasibility study on the ranch and processing plant.
The territorial government is contributing $36,000 to the project, the NWT Métis Nation $17,724, the Dehcho First Nation $6,500, and the Fort Simpson Métis Development Corporation $5,000.
The federal government is also investing $249,859 in a project in the Beaufort Delta region that plans to promote the use of country foods in existing food systems.
The project, led by the University of Waterloo, will collaborate with local schools, daycares, and cooking facilities in Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk. The funding will help with the development of traditional food guidelines, equipment to harvest and process food, and community food workshops.
The University of Waterloo is contributing $88,350 to the project, the territorial government $10,000, and Polar Knowledge Canada $358,000.
According to Statistics Canada’s 2017-2018 community health survey, 21.6 percent of households in the Northwest Territories face food insecurity.
The Northern Food Innovation Challenge is a federal program, launched in 2021, which aims to support community-led projects that improve food security in the territories.
During the first phase of the project – along with the two NWT projects – five projects in Nunavut and two in the Yukon were granted funding from nearly 50 applicants. In 2023, up to three of the successful applicants will receive additional funding to scale up or deploy their projects.