Partnership between Harvesters Support Grant recipients in Ontario and Manitoba, food banks and charities will bring food bank operations to 43 isolated, northern communities

News release

December, 13, 2023 — Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty 1 Territory — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Northern and isolated communities are feeling the global rise in food prices, especially as regional food security is affected by high transportation costs. The Government of Canada continues to work directly with Indigenous and northern partners to support local, innovative solutions to help the most vulnerable members access healthy food in northern and isolated communities.

Today, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, PrairiesCan and CanNor, congratulated Wiiche’iwaymagon members, food bank agencies and charities, and Arctic Gateway, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding in a traditional ceremony and will be working together to strengthen food security in northern Manitoba and Ontario communities. This partnership will support the immediate needs of the most vulnerable residents, getting free and essential items from food banks and charities into communities while creating new emergency and low-cost food supply networks that will help increase food sovereignty in the region.

The partnership is supported by Nutrition North Canada (NNC)’s subsidy program, as food banks and charities can now access the subsidy for all food shipped to eligible northern and isolated communities. Wiiche’iwaymagon members, which include the tribal councils representing all isolated northern communities in Ontario and Manitoba, are also able to access NNC’s Harvesters Support Grant and Community Food Programs Fund funding for food-related infrastructure and equipment, as well as for local food programs, buying clubs, and food distribution networks.

Following the addition of food banks to the subsidy program, new partnerships between the Island Lake Region Tribal Council and Harvest Manitoba, and Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment & Training Services (KKETS) have been delivering food from food banks to nine isolated communities in Northern Manitoba and Northern Ontario. The Government of Canada will continue to support partnerships between northern and isolated communities and major food banks and charities, which are an important step towards strengthening food security in the North.


“I congratulate Wiiche’iwaymagon members, food bank agencies and charities, and Arctic Gateway, on their formal collaboration to help those in need, while building food sovereignty in northern Manitoba and Ontario communities. Our government will continue to work with food banks and Indigenous organizations to help expand a northern food banks network and support the immediate needs of the most vulnerable members in northern communities.”

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

“For decades the federal and provincial governments have contributed billions of dollars to First Nations across Canada without change in the quality of life for the majority of First Nations peoples both on and off reserve. According to Maslow’s hierarchy scale, water, air and food are identified as the primary need for human survival. Any program delivery in the First Nation will not be successful without addressing the food insecurity issues. Therefore, this collective partnership by joint purchasing between the agreement holders and the regional and national food banks will provide additional food staples that will leverage bulk purchasing.”

Dave Neegan,
Executive Director, Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment & Training Services (KKETS)

Quick facts

  • 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.
  • In August 2022, the Government of Canada announced that food banks and not-for-profit organizations serving eligible northern communities can access the Nutrition North Canada (NNC) subsidy program. These organizations can now claim subsidies for transporting and distributing food to residents in isolated, northern communities, to help address the immediate needs of the most vulnerable.

  • Nutrition North Canada currently serves 125 remote communities across the three territories and the northern regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • The Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the following food bank agencies and charities: Food Banks Canada, the Breakfast Club of Canada, Second Harvest, Harvest Manitoba, Feed Ontario and the Regional Food Distribution Association in Thunder Bay. It was also signed by the Arctic Gateway Group.

  • The partnership will support 120,000 residents in 43  isolated communities eligible for Nutrition North Canada subsidy program in Manitoba and Ontario.

  • Supporting Indigenous leadership and co-developing solutions on food security in northern communities for First Nations, Inuit and Métis is central to advancing the reconciliation journey and self-determination.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Carson Debert
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Dan Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Media Relations
Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

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