Minister Miller announces Government of Canada support for Indigenous food and agriculture initiatives

News release

June 18, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The month of June is dedicated to recognizing and honouring the achievements, history and rich cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Together, we are building a stronger and more inclusive agriculture sector that advances meaningful relationships with Indigenous Peoples and reduces barriers for under-represented groups.

Today, the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Marc Miller, on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced investments of over $4 million in 16 projects that will help support Indigenous food systems initiatives, provide equitable access to healthy food, and increase participation of under-represented groups in the agriculture and agri-food sector.

Recipients include:

  • 4-C Farms Limited Partnership, which received up to $954,000 to reintroduce grain farming as a viable business and career path and to finalize a business plan so that Cowessess First Nation can expand its farming operation to 2,000 acres;
  • Xaxli'p First Nation, which received up to $88,000 to prepare the community to engage in a number of agricultural activities by conducting a market study, a land capability assessment and an irrigation water source assessment; and
  • Bigstone Cree Nation, which will receive up to $131,000 to identify and plan agribusiness opportunities to participate and succeed in Alberta’s growing agribusiness sector.

These projects, announced through the Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative and the AgriDiversity Program, build on previous federal support of $2.1 million. This includes projects to support Indigenous agriculture and food initiatives undertaken by the Indian Agricultural Program of Ontario (IAPO), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the Wikwemikong Development Commission, and the Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI).

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring Indigenous communities across the country have reliable access to healthy food. Today's announcement builds on existing initiatives, such as the Emergency Food Security Fund and the Nutrition North Canada Program, which strengthen food security, including in Indigenous communities. 


“Our government is working to create a more inclusive agriculture sector that respects the values of Indigenous Peoples. These investments are intended to ensure that Indigenous Peoples have equal opportunities in the sector, the resources they need to be successful, and access to safe and affordable food.”

- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food 

“Indigenous farmers, communities and agri-food entrepreneurs have a strong partner in the Government of Canada. We recognize all of you, as leaders, in building and growing opportunities – from farming, community gardens, traditional foods and agri-entrepreneurs. Indigenous Peoples were the first agricultural innovators and have a unique connection to the land that continues today. Today's announcement will help ensure that Indigenous Peoples can continue to contribute to and share in Canada's economic and agricultural success.”  

- The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services

“Our long term goal for 4C Farms is to build a fleet of grain farming equipment to enable our Nation owned farm to occupy Nation owned land.  After Chief Kwīwīzance (Cowessess) agreed to Treaty Four, Cowessess First Nation utilized the teachings and tools provided to support an agricultural existence.  Overtime Cowessess members were great farmers then Canadian policy made it harder for Cowessess members to farm. Today, we want to revive agriculture and enable our community and its citizens to benefit from the vast amount of arable acres Cowessess First Nation owns.  The assistance from AAFC has helped to support the reestablishment of agriculture on Cowessess First Nation.”

- Chief Cadmus Delorme, 4C Farms Ltd 

“The Xaxli’p Agriculture Community Readiness (ACR) project, funded by the Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, will result in determining key agricultural opportunities for Xaxli’p on the sites of interest, and initial financial feasibility of these opportunities. This project is a steppingstone to business planning and infrastructure improvements.”

- Lyle Leo, Economic Development Officer, Xaxli’p

“Bigstone Cree Nation is proud to accept the funding and support from Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (IAFI) which will assist the Nation in moving forward on the plans to initiate a bison operation, greenhouses and sustainable crops. We look forward to working with Agriculture and Agri Food Canada on various aspects of the agricultural sector which will incorporate our culture, traditional land use and knowledge in the success of our vision. We thank the Minister and everyone that joined this morning to announce and showcase as more Nations move closer toward self sustenance and true reconciliation.”

- Troy Stuart – Land Manager, Bigstone Cree Nation

Quick facts

  • The Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (IAFSI) is a five-year (2018-2023) joint initiative with Indigenous Services Canada funded in part through the Strategic Partnerships Initiative (SPI), an innovative, horizontal initiative that fosters federal coordination to boost Indigenous participation in economic growth. IAFSI funding supports Indigenous producers, communities, and organizations who are ready to launch agriculture and food systems projects and others who want to build their capacity to participate in the sector. Applications for IAFSI funding will be accepted until July 31, 2021, for projects to be completed on or before March 31, 2023.

  • The AgriDiversity Program, an initiative under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, aims to help under-represented groups in Canadian agriculture, including Indigenous Peoples, youth, women and persons with disabilities, to fully participate in the sector by helping these groups address the key issues and barriers they often face for sector participation.

  • Budget 2021 committed an additional $140 million for the Emergency Food Security Fund and Local Food Infrastructure Fund to help emergency hunger relief organizations prevent hunger, strengthen food security in our communities, and provide nutritious food to all Canadians.

  • According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, 15,765 people in Canada’s agricultural population identified as Indigenous (2.7% of the agricultural population). Indigenous agricultural operators, the majority of which are located in Western Canada, represented 5,160 (1.9%) of the 270,720 agricultural operators in Canada.

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $163.4 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to expand the Nutrition North Canada program and enable the Minister of Northern Affairs to work directly with Indigenous partners, including in Inuit Nunangat, to address food insecurity.

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Oliver Anderson
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
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