Manitoba Government Investing in Healthy Food Initiative for Northern Communities

March 18, 2015

Regular Healthy Food Markets in Garden Hill Provide Economic Benefits Including Jobs: Minister Robinson

The Manitoba government is making an investment that will ensure the success of a local-food social enterprise operating in Garden Hill First Nation, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson announced here today.

“This initiative for Garden Hill is quickly becoming a local success story,” Minister Robinson said.  “Investing in community-based strategies to expand local production of healthy foods has proven to be a more sustainable model with stronger local economic benefits including jobs.  Competing with northern retailers will also bring the cost of healthy foods down, leading to better outcomes and freeing up household budgets.”

Meechim also offers a regular healthy food market and plans to ramp up sales of local food such as fresh fish.  The enterprise is a partnership between Garden Hill First Nation, Aki Energy, the University of Manitoba and Four Arrows Regional Health Authority.  The provincial investment for Meechim Inc. is $300,000.

“We used to provide our own food,” said Councillor Morris Knott, who is also the interim chair of the board for Meechim.  “Now we are fighting a diabetes epidemic.  We have 500 out of 4,400 people living with the disease and 50 are children.  We are going to tackle this problem by producing and selling food that is healthy and nutritious.”

This year alone, Meechim (the word for ‘food’ in Oji-Cree) plans to raise 1,000 chickens, fence off acreage, and purchase equipment and machinery for agriculture that will bring together local market gardening and small-scale agriculture, traditional foods harvesting and a ‘good food box’ program to offer healthy, affordable and locally produced foods in the community.

Aki Energy, a social enterprise that mentors First Nations to start their own green non-profit businesses, is the driving force behind the National Alternate Energy and Food Sovereignty Conference with guest speakers coming from across the country.

“The thought that there aren’t economic opportunities on First Nations is just wrong,” said Darcy Wood, executive director, Aki Energy.  “Aki has helped create jobs now on five First Nations in food, geothermal and solar sectors and we’re just getting started.”

Wood noted the cost to startup the farm is equivalent to one dialysis patient for three years.

The Meechim Inc. investment builds on the Manitoba government’s Northern Healthy Foods Initiative.  This initiative, a commitment designed to improve the effectiveness of programming to address issues of food insecurity in northern Manitoba, was recently ranked fourth in the category of Food Consumption Patterns:  Diet, Environment, Society, Economy and Health at Expo Milano 2015 –Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life (global food security focus).  There were over 250 other applicants in this category.

For more information on AKI Energy’s initiatives visit

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