. (Photo courtesy of Shane Chartrand)

. (Photo courtesy of Shane Chartrand)

Grants aim to replenish threatened Indigenous food systems in B.C.

The grants range from $100 to $10,000 and cover activities such as creating food or medicine gardens,

By Katłįa (Catherine) Lafferty, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

THE DISCOURSE

Kati George-Jim carries teachings about the relational cycles of ecosystems, passed on to her by one of her many women.

The T’suk woman speaks of how salmon are nurtured by natural water systems — when fish bones are left on the side of the beach, animals are able to feed off that same nutrition.

Bears and other animals then expel that waste, which nurtures other relatives on the floor of the forest, and helps plants grow which are then harvested from the land.

It’s one of many teachings that are key to understanding Indigenous food systems in the territories they serve, Jim says.

“Those teachings, that language and the relationship to nutrition all comes back to food,” she says. “Whether it’s feeding us or feeding ecosystems, it’s important to understand that relationship.”

George-Jim has ancestry from both her parents stemming from the southern part of so-called Vancouver Island, T’Sou-ke and W̱SANEĆ Territories. She says she was raised to acknowledge jurisdictions outside of those boundaries which is why she she uses the more territory-based word T’suk.

She is currently the community liaison Initiative lead of ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL Indigenous Food Systems Initiative, a First Nations-led program focused on sustaining local traditional foods.

ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL recently put out a call for spring grant applications for projects involving local Indigenous food and knowledge systems on Lekwungen, W̱SANEĆ, T’suk and Pacheedaht territories.

The grants range from $100 to $10,000 and cover activities such as creating food or medicine gardens, providing nutritional education, removing invasive species, providing traditional food for entire communities, and land restoration.

This year, the Initiative has created four themed categories for proposals: Fill Your Basket & Community Harvest Maintenance & Restoration Storytelling and Transformation & Transition.

“For us as Indigenous peoples, it all comes back to the land itself and the land, as we know, reflects our economy,” says George-Jim, who has worked with the initiative since 2019.

“When we have sustenance, that comes from ensuring that we have abundance. We have the land management and the laws that ensure the longevity of the land and who we are.”

The initiative initially started with the intention of wanting to do things differently — granting projects from inside the communities instead of through outside agencies. Many times, external bodies that provide funding don’t actually address the root of the problem, George-Jim says.

There are philanthropic foundations and charities that are starting to take steps towards having different relationships with Indigenous Peoples on the receiving end of grants, explains George-Jim, “but as we know, alot of diversity and inclusion strategies still don’t talk about the root.”

George-Jim explains that ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL is unique as a place-based program, because it’s about how Indigenous leaders can move between the spaces and boundaries that have been put up around them.

She says the grants are about direct relationships and working together to care for communities, the land, and future generations.

“It’s actually working with communities (through) community partnerships,” she says.

The work of the initiative is about self-determination. This is done by creating space and resources for funders to come to the understanding of how the initiatives need to be met — with an Indigenous-led focus, says George-Jim.

The Initiative is now at a place where the funders don’t want to speak on behalf of communities and instead want to act as a facilitator for change, she adds.

“The work of our own people and communities often does not fit into a program or into a funding stream,” she says.

The grants aren’t just about food sovereignty, but also incorporate language, culture and family structures.

“We are interdependent on each other,” says George-Jim.

“We can and have always been self-sufficient, and our wealth is seen as how we take care of the land and how we give back to the land versus … wealth, in the view of a foreign economy to these territories, is seen as how much can be extracted.”

George-Jim speaks to the legacy of colonialism in the changing landscape through agriculture and the displacement of Indigenous peoples through colonialism, including residential schools, reserve systems, and more.

“If we really want to tackle systemic issues, we need to talk about what is literally rooted here,” she says, adding that, “it’s all of our responsibility to remove the conditions of colonialism from these territories in order to restore balance to our food systems and our ways of being as local Indigenous people.”

People from Lekwungen, W̱SANEĆ, Tsuk, and Pacheedaht territories can apply for grants either through a written or oral application by Feb. 25.

READ MORE: Penticton’s own Tracey Kim Bonneau’s Indigenous food TV series premiers Feb. 11

READ MORE: Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual

Indigenous

Just Posted

A Grade 8 class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
B.C.’s return-to-school plan good, but Surrey teachers hope there is room for adjustments

Surrey school district to receive $1.76M of the $25.6M provincial pandemic-related funding

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Pier has reportedly been unused for a long time

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read