2015.10 Creating Jobs and Improving Food Security in First Nations through Social Enterprise

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Whereas: Diabetes is a major issue in Northern Manitoba First Nations. In 2010, the economic burden of diabetes in Manitoba was estimated to be approximately $86 million in direct costs and an additional $412 million in indirect costs. This is equal to more than four times what the Province of Manitoba spends on job training.

Whereas: Diabetes was rare among the Aboriginal population prior to 1940, but has now reached epidemic levels in some communities across Canada. More than half of all seniors and almost one quarter of adults aged 35 to54 in Manitoba First Nations report having diabetes. The increasing prevalence of diabetes in Manitoba First Nations is linked to the effects of replacing traditional foods that provide a protective effect from diabetes, with imported and unhealthy foods that increase the risk of diabetes.

Whereas: First Nations people living on reserves have access to few employment opportunities. The formal unemployment rate for youth living on reserves is almost 50%. Social enterprises are well positioned to create training and employment opportunities for people who have limited experience in the workforce

Whereas: For example, Aki Energy has worked with the Garden Hill First Nation to incorporate Meechim Inc. – a social enterprise owned and operated by members of the Garden Hill First Nation that is creating new job opportunities for the local population. Meechim is importing healthy food from urban and southern suppliers in Manitoba, to provide the community with access to healthy and affordable food. It is also supporting the local economy by purchasing healthy foods for resale from local fishers, bakers, berry pickers, and gardeners. In addition, Meechim is introducing commercial scale market gardening and poultry raising opportunities to significantly ramp up work already being done in this area through the Northern Healthy Foods Initiative.

Whereas: The Province of Manitoba’s Northern Healthy Foods Initiative has taken important steps to promote local, healthy food production in many Manitoba First Nations, including through increasing opportunities for gardening, poultry raising, and the harvesting of traditional foods such as fish and berries. However, the diabetes epidemic requires a much larger response, which includes social enterprise development of First Nations.

Be It Resolved That:

CCEDNet - Manitoba urge the Province of Manitoba to support social enterprise development on First Nations to provide employment for local people and scale up opportunities for healthy food production and consumption on First Nations.

Download Resolution 2015.10 [pdf]

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