Seed-saving local grow program explored

Fort William First Nation, Ont. — Community-based gardens emphasizing traditional Indigenous agricultural methods and seed preservation could soon sprout up at Fort William First Nation and two other area Indigenous communities. “It’s very much in the beginning stages, but there’s lots of potential,” Nokiiwin Tribal Council environmental adviser Meagan Hindman said on Monday. “We’re very much looking to get local youth involved,” she added. Funded by the province, the local-food development initiative is being organized by Nokiiwin in collaboration with Sudbury’s Laurentian University and the University of Guelph in southern Ontario. The first information session is being planned for Thursday at Fort William’s community hall to gauge interest in the project. “Tell us what you want to see growing in your community,” a bulletin about the project says. Rocky Bay First Nation and Pic Mobert First Nation are also potential participants. Rocky Bay’s forum is set for Friday; a separate forum at Pic Mobert is pending, Hindman said. One of the aims of the program, Hindman said, is to instill the importance of savings seeds from previous harvests so they can be used for generations of planting. The Fort William session is to hear from Celeste Smith, an Oneida Nation (Six Nations) seed expert and advocate for traditional Anishnabe agricultural methods The local-grow program is in keeping with federal initiatives to address concerns about “food insecurity” in Indigenous communities. “Food insecurity is more prevalent among households where respondents identify as Indigenous (28.2 per cent) or Black (28.9 per cent) and among households with children,” a federal backgrounder says. “Rates are higher than the national average in Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Yukon and Northwest Territories,” it added. “Rates are highest in Nunavut, where almost 50 per cent of households experience moderate or severe food insecurity.” Thursday’s event at Fort William First Nation is to start at 5 p.m.