B.C. creates new council for Indigenous participation in agriculture

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The province has created a new council to increase Indigenous participation in the agriculture and food sectors.

The B.C. Indigenous Advisory Council on Agriculture and Food (IACAF) is the first of its kind in Canada and will work with the ministry of agriculture, food and fisheries on a three-year strategic plan.

“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.”

Council members have a shared commitment to advance reconciliation through 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, according to the province.

“Currently, many aspects of our Indigenous food systems are not within the mandate of British Columbia’s ministry of agriculture, food and fisheries,” said Chief Byron Louis, IACAF chair, Okanagan Indian Band. “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. Our world views, 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 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.

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