New partnership will bring food banking operations to five northern and isolated Indigenous communities in Ontario

News release

March 27, 2023 — Ottawa, Ontario — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Everyone should have access to nutritious and affordable food, no matter where they live. Factors such as long travel distances and socioeconomic challenges make Northerners more vulnerable to food insecurity than those living in southern Canada. Recognizing the challenges that northern and isolated communities face are complex, the Government of Canada continues to work with partners to build local capacity and create the conditions for food sovereignty in the North and Arctic.

Today, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, PrairiesCan and CanNor, congratulated the organizations on their new partnership, which is supported by Nutrition North Canada (NNC), a Government of Canada program that helps make nutritious food more affordable and accessible in northern and isolated communities and strengthens access to traditional foods and sharing networks.

Residents of five isolated communities in Northern Ontario’s Matawa Tribal Council region will soon have access to food bank services thanks to a new partnership between Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services (KKETS), Food Banks Canada, Feed Ontario, Second Harvest, and the Regional Food Distribution Association. Over the coming months, this new partnership will help an estimated 3,000 people living in the First Nations communities of Eabametoong, Marten Falls, Neskantaga, Nibinamik, and Wunnumin Lake access food bank services by addressing logistical barriers in the region.

In August 2022, Canada announced enhancements to the NNC program so that food banks and charities can now claim the same subsidies as retailers and suppliers to help with costs.

In addition, KKETS, operated by the Matawa Tribal Council, recently received $4.5 million in grant funding from NNC’s Harvesters Support Grant and Community Food Programs Fund, which will support their food security priorities and can also be used for storage and distribution.

NNC continues to actively work with community partners across the North to ensure that food banking operations reach the most vulnerable residents in isolated communities.


“This new partnership will help address the immediate needs of residents in the First Nations communities of Eabametoong, Marten Falls, Neskantaga, Nibinamik, and Wunnumin Lake. Through Nutrition North Canada’s expanded programs, and together with Indigenous and northern partners, our government is working to achieve food sovereignty for residents across the North and Arctic.”

The Honourable Dan Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs, PrairiesCan and CanNor

“Food Banks Canada recognizes that food insecurity is at crisis levels in many northern communities. As part of our 2023 Emergency Food Access Grant, we were able to provide $100,000 that will be distributed between these remote communities for immediate food access. We acknowledge the need goes beyond the scope of food, which is why we also continue to focus on building relationships, expanding partnerships and working on community-led solutions all over Canada’s North.”

Kirstin Beardsley
Chief Executive Officer, Food Banks Canada

“With food security playing a vital role in the health and wellbeing for the Matawa First Nations, KKETS welcomes the contribution from the Nutrition North Canada Program. The program will go a long way to reduce the cost of healthy foods in our First Nations, making good nutrition affordable and sustainable.”

Dave Neegan
Executive Director, KKETS

Quick facts

  • On March 14, 2023, Minister Vandal announced that the Government of Canada has signed Harvesters Support Grant and Community Food Programs Fund agreements with 24 Indigenous governments and organizations. These grant agreements, totalling $120.7 million, will support traditional hunting, harvesting, food-sharing, and community food programs in 112 eligible isolated and northern communities.

  • Nutrition North Canada supports residents in eligible northern isolated communities in the following ways:

    • Nutrition North Canada subsidy: By subsidizing a list of perishable foods and essential items flown in by air, and non-perishable foods and essential items brought in by seasonal sealift, barge, or winter road.
    • Harvesters Support Grant: By increasing Northerners’ access to traditional foods by supporting hunting, harvesting, and food sharing.
    • The Community Food Programs Fund: By directly supporting culturally appropriate community-led food security activities.
    • Nutrition Education Initiatives: By delivering community-based nutrition education activities and building on existing activities to increase access to healthy food (led by Indigenous Services Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada).
    • The Nutrition North Food Security Research Grant: By supporting Indigenous-led research on food access and the cost of living in the North.
  • The Nutrition North Canada program benefits nearly 120,000 residents in 122 isolated northern communities. These communities are located in Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Labrador.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Kyle Allen
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Dan Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs, PrairiesCan and CanNor

Media Relations
Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

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