South Indian Lake is active in growing a healthy community

South Indian Lake is active in growing a healthy community:
Promoting traditional foods and gardening
“Fishing in
Kawekapawetan is lots
of fun because everyone
of us is here. We come
with our father and
cousins every year.”
Asfia Gulrukh Kamal and Shirley Thompson
Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba
[email protected]
Hilda Dysart, Oscar
Blackburn School counselor,
cooking moose curry. She
participates in the
traditional youth training
ceremony, Kewekapawetan.
The festival is held every
year in August for training
youth on hunting and
fishing. It’s a community
Like many other remote northern Manitoba communities, South Indian Lake (SIL) has limited access to healthy food, such as fresh
vegetables, fruits and dairy products.
This study asked:
- whether healthy food was accessible and affordable to people (Household Food Security Survey)?
- what are the barriers to putting healthy food on the table of SIL community members?
- what gardening and other traditional methods of harvesting provide food to SIL?
- what do SIL people wanted in order to eat healthier?
65% of households
had children that were
hungry but there was
no money for food.
They were supported
by friends and
A door to door household food security survey and interviews of 46 SIL households (random sample) was conducted in June 2009 by
Asfia Gulrukh Kamal. The people interviewed ranged from 18 to 70 years of age. The survey findings were analyzed by Statistical
Products and Survey Solution (SPSS). Open-ended qualitative interviews were conducted in order to get a holistic understanding of
the problem and the solutions. Participatory video methods were used to record your stories and community engagement.
75% rely on
low-cost food
for children.
Prices for healthy food are too high: 76% of SIL
households said they often worried that they would run
out of money and not be able to buy food. Many
households had hungry children because there was no
money to buy food. People couldn’t afford to buy
healthy food and children were hungry because there
was no money to buy food. $14.79 price for a bag of
potatoes was recorded on June 16th 2009 in the
Northern Store at SIL.
Survey Result
76% of community households often worried that they will run out of
money to buy food. Food is costly and income is limited.
74% of community households could not afford to buy food.
46% of community households garden to improve their access to healthy
10% of community households wanted training in gardening.
34% of community households wanted training for youth to get food from
land and promoting local food will help the situation.
10% of community households thought a co-op might help the situation.
65% households with children had children that didn’t eat for a whole day
and 65% of households with children had children that were hungry but there
was so money for food.
39% of household often and another 36% sometimes (total 75% often or
sometimes) relied on low-cost food for children, couldn’t afford feed children
healthy food and children weren’t able to eat enough.
Steve Ducharme at a greenhouse he made with
low-cost materials.
Steve and his wife, school principle Shirley
Ducharme, are smoking fish.
South Indian Lake people are trying to regain their tradition of gardening. This local food production is important as most
community households cannot afford to buy healthy food from the Northern Store. Gardening material and teachings about
traditional land activities, food preservation and gardening are wanted. However, most people didn’t know there was training,
materials and programs that could make food production more sustainable and generate community development at SIL.
80% of the
community people
are worried that
they would run out
of money for food.
What are people saying?
Almost half of the households interviewed wanted to garden (46%). All of the household said that before Manitoba Hydro relocated
their community every “family had a garden”. The adverse impact on land and water resources caused by Manitoba Hydro’s dam has
been a challenge for access wild food. The hydro dam damaged trap locations, changed animal migration pattern, created problems
for commercial fishing and relocated the community which changed practice of and locations of gardening.
Every family at SIL grew root vegetables, mostly carrots, potatoes, and beets. They used to grow vegetables on Potato Island and that
is where South Indian Lake Aboriginal Diabetes Association started the community garden in 2008. A community feast was held using
the garden produce. Approximately 80 people joined the feast.
Programs are by request, to help actions in communities. Contact for help and supplies:
1. Northern Healthy Foods Initiative (NHFI), Manitoba Government funds groups like Northern Association of Community Councils
(NACC), Bayline Regional Roundtable (BRRT), Four Arrows Regional Health Authority (FARHA) and Manitoba Food Matters to
increase access to healthy food and to support food projects. Contacts: Jennell Majeran, Manager, Northern Healthy Foods
Initiative (204-677-6677, [email protected]) and Jessica Paley, Northern Healthy Foods Initiative, (204-945-0569,
[email protected]). Programs in other communities include:
chicken, turkey (with chicks and chicken food provided but not chicken coop) goat and other small livestock production,
freezer loans for people to buy freezers to store healthy food,
community or school greenhouse and households receiving plastic for building a greenhouse, and
provision of vegetable seeds, berry and other bedding plants, and school grow lights.
workshop in Thompson called Northern Harvest to provide free teaching to northern community members about food
production and preservation.
2. Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) provides gardening support to communities to give workshops on
gardening and chicken production. Contact: Brian Hunt (204-856-9255, Fax: 204-745-5690, [email protected])
3. Northern Association of Community Councils (NACC) provides seeds, plants, gardening and loans tools for community and
household gardens, as well as one community was supplied with chicken and goats. Contact: (204-947-2227, [email protected] or
[email protected]).
4. Frontier School Division provides Veggie Adventure school activities and greenhouse and gardening expertise for northern
climates. Contact: Chuck Stensgard (204-473-2332, [email protected]).
5. Chronic Disease Prevention Initiative (CDPI) provides some funding for traditional activities, gardening and healthy snacks.
Contact: Jennifer Linklater (204-374-2005) and Health Director, Earla Tait-Linklater (204-374-2013).
6. Burntwood Regional Health Authority (BRHA) could provide community visits of a dietitian to and teach community people
(particularly pregnant women and diabetes patient) about healthy diet and how to cook healthy meals (204-677-5350).
7. Green Team employs youth to start community gardens, market gardens or help with household gardening. This is 100% paid
for by government. Fill out form at:
8. View your participatory video called “Growing Hope” at
We would like to thank Chief Chris Baker, counselor Fred Moose, school counselor Hilda Dysart, School principal Shirley Ducharme
for their comments on the draft poster. Thanks to all the interview participants in South Indian Lake community. Funded by
Canadian Institutes of Health Research Regional Partnerships Program (CIHR-RPP).
Photo credit: Asfia Gulrukh Kamal.

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