A new year always brings with it a sense of optimism regarding what lies ahead. In my tenure, I have been fortunate enough to see a number of innovative projects developing throughout the North. The following examples demonstrate a number of exciting initiatives underway in our riding’s First Nation communities.
During the summer, I was in Eabametoong First Nation and had the opportunity to visit a burgeoning new farming project, the Fort Hope Farm. This initiative aims to combat food insecurity, create jobs, blend traditional knowledge and conventional farming approaches, while promoting Anishinaabe culture.
In 2018, the farm will be extending to 12 acres and the plan is to incorporate greenhouses into the expansion. This kind of agricultural pursuit provides easier access to fresh and healthy food, and creates job opportunities. It’s no wonder I see more and more community gardens popping up around First Nation communities in the riding. The project has done so well that it received recognition with a Rural Ontario Leaders Award.
Eabametoong First Nation’s forward thinking hasn’t been limited to the summer months. For the second winter in a row, the local school has put together an all-girls peewee hockey team. The 19 student team, comprised of 10-12 year old girls, traveled to Thunder Bay for their first tournament last winter. They are now raising funds to take part in an Ottawa girls’ tournament this March.
The team’s teachers and coaches say hockey has served as a tool for improving self-confidence, a feeling of belonging, and leadership development. To find out how to help support the girls in their effort to attend the upcoming tournament, please contact my constituency office in Kenora at 1-866-710-0008.
The girls on that team can also look to the example being set in Washagamis Bay First Nation. I was pleased to see the community elect its first all-female council in August. I believe we will continue to see the emergence of more and more women taking on leadership roles within First Nation communities.
Fort Severn First Nation, near the shore of Hudson Bay, is the most Northern community in Ontario. The community is working on using its unique location to capitalize on a promising initiative involving polar bear sighting tours. I had the chance to take one of these tours and was lucky enough to experience the excitement of witnessing polar bears up close. This kind of innovating thinking will increase tourism and help drive economic development.
Positive developments are happening rapidly throughout First Nations and in other comminutes across the riding. There is so much activity taking place it would be impossible to encapsulate it all in one column. I wanted to share some of these exciting developments with you and hope you share in my enthusiasm of what’s to come next.
For further information, please contact the offices below: