Participants of the Indigenous-led agricultural training program pose for a photograph with the staff at Tea Creek Farm in Kitwanga. (Photo courtesy, Alex Stoney)

Participants of the Indigenous-led agricultural training program pose for a photograph with the staff at Tea Creek Farm in Kitwanga. (Photo courtesy, Alex Stoney)

Indigenous-led food sovereignity program trains first cohort in Kitwanga

Tea Creek Farm trained participants from northwest B.C. First Nations

Tea Creek Farm in Kitwanga’s first cohort of students has completed the Indigenous-led food sovereignty training program set up for participants from several northwest B.C. First Nations.

On Thursday, June 17, eight participants graduated from the month long training program based on the ‘Tea Creek Model’ developed by the owners of Tea Creek Farm– Jacob and Jessica Beaton. These eight were the first of a batch of 20 participants to complete the six weeks-long training program.

The Beatons’ model focuses on revitalizing the once-thriving agricultural past of the northwest to combat food-insecurity in First Nation communities in the region. According to the Beatons, training people is the first step to building man power in these communities.

Participants from First Nation communities of Witset, Nisga’a and Kitwanga were among the ones trained at Tea Creek.

The program was funded partly by the province and by participating First Nations who hired Tea Creek to train and help develop food programs in their communities.

“It’s an indigenous led training program and the focus is to introduce people to four different quadrants – administration, trades (such as carpentry and mechanics), nutrition and hosting and agriculture (growing food and farming),” said Beaton.

The program has Indigenous staff and is culturally safe, said Beaton who is Tsimshian.

George Sampare, 53, who is Tsimshian, said that he participated in the program because he was “blown away” by the idea of food sovereignty.

“The idea that we could be independent of everything that blew me away. I spent my whole life as an Indigenous person waiting for someone to give me something but never did I think that I could provide it for myself, year round, let alone for my children or my grandchildren,” he said.

Another participant Aygadim Majagalee attended the program from Nisga’a undertaking a six-hour drive three times per week. The Nisga’a Nation is setting up its own food production system this year and is in the initial stages of starting their own green house. The Nisga’a Nation had five participants in the first training cohort and will send another five for the next cohort starting July.

Majagalee said that being able to learn about traditional cultivation systems and different techniques to occupy the land. Learning about food security and implementing it back in the Nass Valley is the “best way to give back” to her community, she said.

Earlier this year, Tea Creek Farms held an Indigenous youth program which trained and provided work experience to 45 youths.