News and announcements
Earlier this month, Chad Duplessie and Erica Ward from the Natoaganeg Community Food Centre spoke to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food.
“We were humbled to be there with two chiefs and Inuit representatives,” says Chad. “We were able to present more of a grassroots and community-based perspective.”
Invited by their local MP and committee Chair Pat Finnegan, Chad and Erica spoke about Eel Ground First Nation and the impact they’re seeing from their work at the Natoaganeg Community Food Centre.
Erica told the committee about the history of the Mi’kmaq people of Eel Ground First Nation and their connection to the land on the banks of the Miramichi where they’ve lived for over 3,000 years, hunting game, fishing and gathering.
Eel Ground First Nation — a community of about 600 living on reserve — is only about two minutes away from Miramichi, but can seem a world apart when it comes to food insecurity. The food insecurity rate in Eel Ground is 40 per cent, while it’s 12 per cent in Miramichi.
"The same job market, same grocery store, all of these same things, but over three times the food insecurity in that suburban neighbourhood just outside of that city,” says Chad. “It does speak to something pretty complex. At the root cause, it’s poverty, it’s social assistance rates, it’s peoples’ inability to enter the job market, and to get enough money in their pocket to pay for their groceries."
The Natoaganeg Community Food Centre has become a safe place for people to access healthy food and engage with their community through the community gardens, cooking programs, and drop-in meals.
Erica adds that the Community Food Centre's programs are also helping people connect with traditional values. By reintroducing traditional proteins like moose and fish and showing new ways to prepare and cook them in their programs, they’re helping bring back traditional Mi’kmaq values around sharing food closely connected to the land.
“We’re very proud to be the only Community Food Centre partner in New Brunswick and first Indigenous Community Food Centre in Canada,” says Chad.