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Two North Coast communities benefit from $58,000 to support food security

Food security is ‘top of mind’ in Bella Coola and Haida Gwaii communities, MLA Jennifer Rice said
Haida Gwaii School District receives $58,000 to support food security. Some schools in the district have gardens, including this one outside of Gudangaay Tlaats’ gaa Naay Secondary School in Masset B.C. (Photo: Kaitlyn Bailey/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Two North Coast food security projects each get a boost of $58,000, the provincial Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction announced Aug. 5.

Through Victoria Foundation’s Food Security Fund, the Haida Gwaii School District (SD 50) and Nuxalk Nation will receive their share of the total $800,000 distributed across the province.

“Here on the North Coast, food security is always top of mind for communities in the Bella Coola Valley and Haida Gwaii, where food prices are high and availability is largely dependent on the weather, especially during the winter months,” Jennifer Rice, North Coast MLA said.

School District 50’s allocated funds will support the Haida Gwaii Food Sovereignty Project. This program facilitates knowledge sharing between youth and Elders, as well as between nations.

Nuxalk Nation will use its funds to buy new equipment for its commercial kitchen and continue running community education and capacity-building programs.

“These educational opportunities will increase access to healthy and nutritious food on Haida and Nuxalk territory and build upon our government’s commitment to build capacity and increase local access to food,” Rice said.

Lawrence Northeast from Nuxalk College said this grant will support them in addressing food security issues in the Bella Coola Valley.

“It will help us offer educational programs at our community kitchen, as well as provide emergency services as intended during a time of crisis,” he said.

Haida Gwaii can only be accessed by plane or by boat. While travel to Bella Coola by land is possible, their website notes that “The Hill” road, which is required to get into the community, includes a series of switchbacks and has grades up to 18 per cent.

The remoteness of these communities make their food supply chains particularly vulnerable.

For example, in April 2022, ferry cancellations to Haida Gwaii resulted in food supply issues in the archipelago. At the time, Rice told The Northern View that BC Ferries had to make a round trip cargo run by barge, to and from the islands to alleviate food and supply shortages.

READ MORE: North Coast MLA addresses BC Ferries cancellations

RELATED: Haida Gwaii families prioritize hot lunches and extra classroom support

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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