You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

N.W.T. MLAs support a motion calling for a food security strategy

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2021-06-14 Chantal Dubuc
a person sitting in a garden: Regular MLA's supported and passed a motion calling for a food security strategy during the last sitting of the legislative assembly. © Chantal Dubuc/CBC Regular MLA's supported and passed a motion calling for a food security strategy during the last sitting of the legislative assembly.

Regular MLAs supported and passed a motion calling for a food security strategy in the Northwest Territories during the last sitting of the legislative assembly.

The motion was introduced by Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly. He wants the N.W.T. to become more self-sufficient when it comes to food.

"A lot of this stuff came to a head during COVID[-19]. Our supply chains are pretty thin," he said.

"The government is doing some work on food security, but it doesn't seem to be coordinated very well. There's no real lead department and no plan to have a plan," he added.

The motion is calling to appoint a minister responsible to develop a strategy with specific targets and timelines.

O'Reilly said the government needs to be more organized to help and encourage food growers and harvesters.

"It's really important that we actually establish targets and that we work towards those targets," he said.

"I don't think we even track local food production very well, whether it's people harvesting, waterfowl or fish or even stuff that comes out of people's gardens."

a rocky mountain with trees in the background: A department dedicated to food production could eliminate the different channels needed to go through to get going with a production of this scale, said one grower. © Chantal Dubuc/CBC A department dedicated to food production could eliminate the different channels needed to go through to get going with a production of this scale, said one grower.

O'Reilly would like to see food coordinators hired in communities and a better system to track food production.

Yellowknife farmer France Benoit, who operates Le Refuge, is in favour of the motion and hopes it can start being implemented soon.

Food production creates jobs

She thinks the way to implement food security is to support the commercial food growers.

"They are the ones that are already in place, already producing food, and they have the consistency to grow food," she said.

She added that commercial food production creates jobs and keeps the money in the territory — and the possibilities extend even further than agriculture.

"We have incredible fish resources here. So just imagine this, not only the satisfaction, but the security of being able to say we now produce a great amount of food that feeds ourselves."

a man standing next to a rock: Kyle Thomas, left, and Marie Auger own and operate Bush Order Provisions Ltd. in Yellowknife. © Chantal Dubuc/CBC Kyle Thomas, left, and Marie Auger own and operate Bush Order Provisions Ltd. in Yellowknife.

Growers like Kyle Thomas and Marie Auger say they can definitely use the support. They own and operate Bush Order Provisions Ltd. in Yellowknife. The couple bought about an acre of land last year to grow and sell vegetables and plan to add a bakery.

They were able to access a grant through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership, which are given through the N.W.T.'s Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

"Our kind of initial goal is to make sure that we break even on this," Thomas said. "So that we can prove that it is viable and then expand from there."

They say a department dedicated to food production could eliminate the different channels that growers have to go through to get going with a production of this scale.

"We're going through the same things that someone who may only have a thousand square feet or five hundred square feet of growing space has to go through," Thomas said.

"We'd love to see more commercial stuff on a bigger scale be available or divide what is currently available a little bit more so that we have a specific track that we can go through and someone else has another specific track."

O'Reilly hopes the territory can start to replace the food that's imported and become more self-sufficient over time.

"People like to harvest as well. And we have to make sure that we get rid of any barriers that may be in place for people to sell meat locally," he said.

"It's about making sure that people have affordable and safe food, nutritious food."

AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon