. (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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

Deane Gorsline, is a former Burns Lake resident who has been diagnosed with ALS. (Submitted/Lakes District News)
ALS Action Canada group ropes in political leaders

Hopes to get more support and ultimately better treatment options for Canadians

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

(Black Press file photo)
Charges laid against two suspects in pre-Christmas home invasion

An 88-year-old woman was hospitalized after being bear-sprayed in the face Dec. 18, 2020

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read