Regina (Rural Roots Canada) – The National Circle for Indigenous Agriculture and Food has officially launched.

A sacred Indigenous pipe ceremony was held at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina, Saskatchewan, to announce NCIAF’s arrival. Established with support from Farm Credit Canada, the NCIAF is a non-profit organization working closely with Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities looking at starting, growing, or scaling agriculture and food projects.

The NCIAF is focused on three strategic pillars: reconciliation, business development, and capacity building.

Advancing reconciliation in the agriculture industry is one of the main reasons for the NCIAF’s existence according to Kallie Wood, NCIAF president and CEO.

National Circle for Indigenous Agriculture and Food
Courtesy: FCC

“The National Circle for Indigenous Agriculture and Food exists to advance reconciliation by building bridges between Indigenous Peoples and communities and the agriculture and food industry,” says Wood.  “As the first farmers of this land, NCIAF exists to help our First Nations People rekindle their relationship with agriculture; to grow, harvest and provide healthy food to their families and their communities.  We are working to accelerate this reignition, which represents a $1.5 billion boost in primary agriculture alone.

Terry Lerat, ReconciliAG Advisor of NCIAF, says he aims to open doors of opportunities for First Nations across Canada.

“There are many facets to agriculture from the smallest honeybee to the large bison and everything in between,” he notes. “My goal is to bring the spirit and intent of the treaties by bringing farming to First Nations across Canada. First Nations should utilize their lands to be self-sustaining.”

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The NCIAF also aims to support the development of Indigenous agriculture and food businesses by creating opportunities to advance food sovereignty and grow the participation of Indigenous businesses across the value chain through agriculture planning and knowledge. As well, it will provide learning opportunities, knowledge-sharing, and connecting Indigenous businesses and Peoples to hands-on learning and development opportunities for operational success.

The NCIAF’s focus includes business acceleration, increased access to knowledge, strengthened business planning and management practices, and improved access to capital to support the Canadian agriculture industry in becoming a world leader in safe, sustainable food production.

Systemic barriers have long prevented Indigenous communities from achieving the food security and economic prosperity that a robust agriculture and food industry can provide. By bringing together support from Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners, the NCIAF seeks to address these inequalities.

“Indigenous Peoples have a long history in agriculture, and farmers continue to benefit from their knowledge and practices,” says Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “I look forward to working with the National Circle for Indigenous Agriculture and Food to break down the barriers that exist and ensure a strong future for Indigenous Peoples in the agricultural sector.”

Learn more about the NCIAF and its mission at this link.