January 26, 2021 – Iqaluit, Nunavut – Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)
Food security has long been an issue in the North due to the isolation of many communities, the high costs of labour and transportation, and socio-economic challenges. Those who are most vulnerable to food insecurity include women, children and Indigenous peoples. The Government of Canada is committed to making strategic investments to strengthen Northern food systems.
Food challenge seeks innovative solutions in Canada’s territories
Through the Northern Food Innovation Challenge, the Government of Canada is supporting its commitment to improve food security in the territories. It is a pan-Canadian challenge that empowers territorial communities to adapt innovative strategies to improve the lives of their residents by increasing food security.
Larry Bagnell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for CanNor, today announced the launch of CanNor’s Northern Food Innovation Challenge through the opening of its call for applications for innovative projects aimed at strengthening food systems in the territories.
The challenge is open to not-for-profit associations, Indigenous governments, community-owned economic development corporations and other organizations, municipal governments, academic institutions and small- and medium-sized businesses. Applicants located outside of the territories may be eligible provided that they have a territorial partner and can demonstrate how the proposed innovation could benefit one or more of the territories.
Challenge to focus on priority areas
The challenge consists of two phases and seeks projects that use innovative solutions that work in a northern or remote climate, can be deployed in the territories, and address one or more of the key challenge areas: food production/harvesting; food processing; and/or food distribution/transportation.
Today’s launch is for Phase 1 of the challenge and applicants have until March 31, 2021, to submit their proposal. In June 2021, approximately eight applicants will be chosen to receive funding of up to $250,000 to launch a prototype of their project.
In Phase 2, up to three successful Phase 1 applicants will be chosen and announced as finalists. Each will be eligible for up to $1 million to scale and deploy their projects in one or more of the territories.
The Northern Food Innovation Challenge is part of the Northern Isolated Community Initiatives (NICI) Fund. NICI is a five-year program that supports community-led projects for local and Indigenous food production systems with an emphasis on innovative and practical solutions to increase food security across the North. CanNor continues to work with territorial governments, Northerners, and Indigenous peoples to support economic development and encourage innovative solutions to the unique challenges in Canada’s territories.
“The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of strengthening food systems in the North and we are committed to working with Northerners through this challenge to develop innovative solutions. Our goal is to work with organizations to help develop their ideas and support new innovations that will strengthen and improve food security in the North.”
– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for CanNor
“The Northern Food Innovation Challenge is a strategic investment by
the Government of Canada to find innovative solutions to food insecurity
in the territories. By encouraging not-for-profits, Indigenous
governments, economic development corporations, and other Northern
organizations, CanNor is encouraging the development of innovative
strategies that specifically recognize Northern challenges.”
Larry Bagnell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic
Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic
The Northern Food Innovation Challenge, delivered by CanNor, encourages the development of innovative solutions to food insecurity in the North. Innovation in the territories can be about developing a new product or process, but it can also be about adapting an existing product or process to work in the northern climate or in remote areas.
A Catalyst Workshop will be held in summer/fall 2021: this event will facilitate the exchange of ideas between applicants, experts, and other interested parties. Details will be provided as soon as they are available.
The 2017-2018 Canadian Community Health Survey reports that the territories face a higher rate of food insecurity than the rest of Canada. That survey reported household food insecurity was 57% in Nunavut, 21.6% in the Northwest Territories, and 16.9% in Yukon.