The Northern Food Innovation Challenge (NFIC) is an innovative new approach to addressing socio-economic challenges in the North and Arctic, undertaken as part of CanNor’s Northern Isolated Communities Initiative (NICI) program. The objective of the Challenge is to support innovative, community-led projects for local and Indigenous food production systems to help improve food security in Canada’s territories.
Today, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development, announced an investment of over $2 million to support nine projects in Phase 1 of the Challenge. Proponents will have the opportunity to test their ideas on how to improve food security in the North. Up to three proponents will be eligible to each receive up to $1 million to scale up their projects. Phase 2 finalists will be announced in 2023.
Inuliqtait Country Food Program – $250,000
CanNor is investing $250,000 in a two-year project led by the Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre (QCFC) in Iqaluit. Additional investments of $60,000 from the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation, and $140,000 from Community Food Centres Canada will be provided for a total project value of $450,000. The Inuliqtait Project will provide the opportunity for harvesters to make a living by harvesting country food, provide storage and food processing capacity, foster the development and expansion of healthy and sustainable products, and will also contribute to strengthening food security in the North. The program will also introduce a sliding scale pricing system that will ensure customers can purchase country food at an affordable price point that suits their means.
Strengthening harvesting food systems in Clyde River – $249,396
CanNor is investing $249,396 in this project by the Ilisaqsivik Society in Clyde River, Nunavut. The Society will employ hunter-instructors to provide traditional country food year-round to elders, children, families, and other community members. This project will also involve hiring instructors able to teach youth the skills needed to hunt and harvest traditional country food. This project is designed around the creation of an innovative Inuit-centred local food economy that is intended to build capacity and help provide country food to the community on a daily basis.
Kitikmeot Inuit Food System Programs and Knowledge Hub – $250,000
CanNor is investing $250,000 in this two-year project by the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay. The Hamlet will develop educational and training programs (curriculum, workshops, illustrated images, videos) linked to protocols for growing crops in the North, butchering country food, and promoting nutritional health in the Kitikmeot region. The Hamlet will engage with local groups, as well as Laval University and Carleton University, to ensure traditional knowledge is adequately considered in addressing food security issues. The project is expected to lead to the development of a knowledge hub for the implementation of food programs rooted in Inuit traditions while leveraging clean technologies and academic research.
Qikiqtani Food Sovereignty Implementation Solution – $246,000
CanNor is investing $246,000 in this two-year project, with The Qikiqtaaluk Business Development Corporation (QBDC) providing an additional $100,000 of its own funding for a total investment of $346,000. This project will invest in community harvesting infrastructure such as storage and processing facilities. It will also test a model for supporting a professional harvesting industry by piloting a living wage for harvesters in the Qikiqtani Region. In addition, it will establish community-based infrastructure, such as cut and wrap food processing facilities, build capacity in harvesting and distribution, and directly support community harvesters.
Kanuq Goose Product Development – $240,000
CanNor is investing $240,000 in this two-year project. The project will allow the Aqqiumavvik Society to assess the health of the local Arviat goose population, create and test new goose products to grow the local economy, and educate the public on the health benefits of goose consumption. It will also build capacity in the community by involving youth in the harvesting, monitoring, and processing, while the society will develop recipes and educational materials that will be used to educate community members on how to prepare meals using goose.
Food Security, Bison Farm to Fork – $212,080
CanNor is investing $212,080 in this two-year project, with the Government of the Northwest Territories providing $36,000, the Northwest Territories Métis Nation adding $17,724, $6,500 from the Dehcho First Nation, and $5,000 from the Fort Simpson Métis Development Corporation (FSMDC), bringing the project funding to a total of $277,304. The FSMDC will undertake a feasibility study on establishing a bison farm and meat processing facility in Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories. Funding will enable the FSMDC to complete regulatory research, community engagement, and hire project coordinators to conduct a feasibility study. This project will focus on culturally appropriate foods and will address food insecurity by producing dry meat and using innovative food processing approaches that will combine traditional and contemporary methods. No similar facility currently exists in the NWT. A successful feasibility study may also lead to a processing facility.
Country Foods in Community Programming – $249,850
CanNor is investing $249,850 in this two-year project with an additional $88,350 from the University of Waterloo (UoW), $10,000 from the Government of the Northwest Territories, and $10,000 from Polar Knowledge Canada for a total investment of $358,200 The project, led by the University of Waterloo, will carry out research and develop traditional food guidelines to ensure the culturally appropriate delivery of country foods into existing food systems in Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk, Northwest Territories. In collaboration with local schools, daycares and cooking circles, this includes activities such as acquiring equipment and supplies for harvesting country food, providing support for harvesters and food processing, supporting Elder-youth knowledge transfer, organizing community food workshops, and conducting engagement with communities.
Centralized Traditional and Local Processing Kitchen Facility – $250,000
CanNor is investing $250,000 in this two-year project with the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate (YFNED), providing an additional $20,000 for a total project value of $270,00. The YFNED will complete a feasibility study, functional plan, conceptual layout and detailed design for a centralized traditional and local processing kitchen facility in Whitehorse, Yukon. YFNED will complete research and determine the design requirements that would allow an innovative traditional and local foods commercial kitchen that could support the processing and storage of wild game in an urban setting. Additionally, the project will see the development of a traditional knowledge curriculum that will enable knowledge sharing and training on First Nation food processing. This project will produce a curriculum and create an easily reproduced design of a fully certified First Nation food kitchen.
Conceptual business plans for low-cost community grown food – $82,500
CanNor is investing $82,500 in a two-year project by the Little Salmon / Carmacks First Nation (LS/CFN) to research and develop business plans around the organization’s farm and greenhouse project. The LS/CFN greenhouse is designed to prioritize providing food at low or no cost to citizens and reduce relying on government and/or inconsistent funding. These business plans will be used to explore hybrid models including sales to regular commercial buyers, paying customers, and low-cost/no-cost distribution to specific priority groups within the community to ensure a more consistent source of funding for local community greenhouses.