It has long been a goal of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in (TH) First Nation to create a means of supplying fresh produce and other food staples in a sustainable way. Equally important to Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizens is the potential of a community farm to offer a safe, healthful environment, respectful of wellness, that provides opportunity for working on their Traditional and Settlement lands and for a traditional and cultural experience.
Toward these ends, TH in partnership with Yukon College, have proposed a project to enable the provision of fresh, affordable farm products and to encourage TH citizens to learn the skills of farming and food production on their lands. The farm will incorporate northern greenhouse crop growing and research, seasonal on-the-land crop growing and animal husbandry in an environment of capacity building through a teaching and working model.
Some of the benefits that will be realized through this project include:
- preservation of a way of life that is based upon an economic and spiritual relationship with the land;
- securing a year-round source of fresh produce and other food staples that are sustainable, including vegetables, meats, and indigenous plants and shrubs important to the sustenance and healing traditions and culture of the TH;
- creating a healthy, healing, safe, and rewarding “on-the-land” environment upon which all TH citizens can learn and work;
- and creating directed learning opportunities in agriculture and all the associated operational aspects of farming (such as trades skills).
Yukon College was a natural partner for the project, because of our experience developing and delivering educational programs in partnership with Yukon First Nations, and our research capabilities to determine the best methods of crop production: developing new and innovative ways of using the available TH land to produce a year-round source of fresh foods for northern citizens and the surrounding communities requires such expertise.
The farm and farm school will be launched in the Spring of 2016, and will leave a legacy for future agricultural learning opportunities for the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, other Yukon First Nations, and the Yukon community at large. The social, economic, and educational opportunities that will be created in the community through this project combine to make it precedent setting in the North and across Canada.
- Dexter MacRae, Human Resources and Community Training Director, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation
- Jackie Olsen, Executive Director, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation
- Darren Taylor, Director Natural Resources, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation
- Tim Gerberding, Director Implementation, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation
- Clint Sawicki, Acting, Vice President Research and Community Engagement, Yukon College
- Lisa Christensen, Research Project Officer, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College