New council helps Indigenous agriculture grow in B.C.
Indigenous leaders and subject matter experts on agriculture and food from throughout British Columbia are working with the Province to increase Indigenous participation in the sector and strengthen Indigenous food systems.
The B.C. Indigenous Advisory Council on Agriculture and Food (IACAF) is the first of its kind in Canada, working to advance reconciliation, respect for Indigenous rights and supporting self-determination goals in the agriculture and food sector. The council is working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries on a three-year strategic plan to advance shared priorities.
“The B.C. IACAF will bring more diverse voices and perspectives to help shape the province’s agricultural industry for future generations,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “With the advisory council’s guidance, I look forward to working together to create a more resilient food system in Indigenous communities around B.C. and building strong, vibrant Indigenous economies that reflect Indigenous peoples’ rights and distinct cultures, priorities and values.”
Advisory council members have a shared commitment to advance reconciliation through meaningful change rooted in the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action in the context of the agriculture and food sector.
“Currently, many aspects of our Indigenous food systems are not within the mandate of British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. Our food security and food sovereignty are deeply entwined with the ecological health of our Indigenous territories, which are increasingly impacted by the effects of climate change and associated threats,” said Chief Byron Louis, IACAF chair, Okanagan Indian Band. “Our worldviews, knowledge systems, relationships with our lands and territories, and inherent rights to self-determination, including to maintain, control, protect and develop our cultural heritage and economies, guide IACAF’s work, and are essential to the realization of the objectives of this council.”
The 15-member council held its first meeting on June 24, 2021, to discuss priorities identified in the three-year strategic plan and will continue to meet quarterly.
“The creation of IACAF and its strategic relation with the ministry will help ensure First Nations’ food security and opportunities for full participation in the agriculture industries throughout the province,” said Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil, Seabird Island Band.
The advisory council’s mandate is to enhance the equitable participation of Indigenous peoples in the agriculture and food sector and support the realization of their food security, food sovereignty and economic development objectives. Priority areas of the council are to:
- advance food security and food sovereignty of Indigenous peoples throughout the province and contribute to more resilient local, regional and provincial food systems;
- increase Indigenous peoples’ success and participation in the agriculture and food sector; and
- strengthen and inform the ministry’s understanding of Indigenous peoples’ inherent rights, interests and perspectives as they relate to the agriculture and food sector.
IACAF is governed by the principles of respect, reciprocity and responsibility, which are cornerstones of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s Act and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. IACAF members are committed to serving British Columbians with honesty, integrity, excellence and in the best interest of the public.
B.C. Indigenous Advisory Council on Agriculture and Food:
B.C. Indigenous Advisory Council on Agriculture and Food’s three-year strategic plan:
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