Exposed: Backwards Agricultural Policy Draft Attempt

March 7th, the Government of the Northwest Territories department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) sent out their draft policy for the next five years of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP). They gave only one week to provide feedback. The following is a letter to ITI from the Board of the Northern Farm Training Institute and a policy analysis of their draft document:

Click here to read the Analysis of ITI’s Draft CAP Policy 2018:

CAP Policy Draft Comments NFTI 2018 final

“March 12th, 2018

Wally Schumann
Industry, Tourism and Investment
Government of the Northwest Territories

Re: Draft Canadian Agricultural Partnership Program Guidelines presented by the Government of the Northwest Territories department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI).

Dear Minister Schumann:

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on draft version of the critically important Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) Program Guidelines for the NWT.

The Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI) is a non-profit society created in 2013 that operates on a 260-acre campus in Hay River, the largest land-based farm in the Northwest Territories. We provide immersive farm training to people committed to improving local food systems. In five years, we have trained 200 people from 30 NWT communities, over 13 of who have gone on to start their own farm businesses or local food initiatives. We are an accredited Savory Hub, an international network of regenerative farm instructors and were recently the runners-up for the Arctic Inspiration Prize 2018. Our Board Chair and founder, Jackie Milne, received a Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal for creating NFTI. Our vision is to genuinely empower people to transform their lives while supporting a vibrant regenerative landscape, building productive local farms and thriving, healthy communities.

In this CAP Guidelines policy, there is an important opportunity to create a policy framework that will positively influence the next five years and $5.6 million of investment in the NWT’s agriculture sector. We feel strongly about making sure that we make genuine steps forward because:
a) Food security in our northern communities is critically important for the health and wellness of our people;
b) We CAN have a robust and diverse agriculture sector if we properly invest this important government funding in a logical and organized manner; and,
c) In the past because of program deficiencies, we have missed opportunities and not achieved the sector development we could have, yet with modest adjustment substantial gains can be realized.

We want a future where the NWT has a thriving agriculture sector with empowered entrepreneurs in all of our communities, people who have been supported with the best local, regional and territorial training and targeted investments that create diverse and successful businesses. To achieve this vision, we need to support individuals in all communities, not just regional centres. We need special efforts to support capacity building for Indigenous people by removing the barriers that are restricting access to funding and training opportunities in order to empower our local people to build an industry in which, having contributed to it themselves, they have intimate knowledge, motivation and pride.

With that in mind, we strongly recommend that this policy draft, presented to us for quick review by ITI on March 7th, be modified to address some substantial concerns and missed opportunities for much greater effectiveness. There are three main issues with the draft:
1. GNWT writing themselves in to use the funds for internal purposes. This is not economic development. The policy must be rewritten so that all the programs are accessible through grants and applications, and not for internal use by ITI. It is our belief that the Federal government expects GNWT to be contributing their own funds to complement the program, rather than spending the funds on themselves. GNWT and academic institutions should not be eligible to apply for or receive CAP funding.
2. A key principle for successful industry development is that personal empowerment and personal ownership need to be prioritized. Individuals and businesses need to be added as Eligible Applicants in all categories, and most importantly under the Small Scale Foods Program, which targets remote communities.
3. Unlike in the past, farm production must be prioritized over non-production projects like research and awareness campaigns. It is time to produce, not just engage in costly talking about producing. As the policy is currently written, these programs have no financial caps or lifetime limits, whereas the programs for actually building farms and marketing products have restrictive limits. The use of this fund should focus on building sustainable economic development.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is committed to fostering a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples and to advancing reconciliation through support for Indigenous agriculture ( The only way a truly sustainable agriculture sector will be developed in the NWT is if all people, including Indigenous people, are supported and involved. It is time for the GNWT to drop their focus on control over agriculture funding and refocus their intentions towards empowerment of entrepreneurs in all our communities, with special effort to engage those in remote communities.

The attached “CAP Policy Draft Comments NFTI 2018” details our recommendations for revising the policy to achieve its stated goals. Since the current federal bilateral framework has not yet been signed, we are using the previous year’s document to guide our analysis in the attached document.

Besides our own work and extensive experience in the agricultural sector, we have drawn upon the following sources, and recommend them for your consideration as well:
• “Economic development in the North: The taboo no one wants to talk about”. Published January 30th, 2018 by Eye on the Arctic:

Economic development in the North: The taboo no one wants to talk about

• “Cut out ‘middlemen’ and fund First Nations in N.W.T. directly, says Dene Nation chief”. Published October 10th, 2017 by CBC News:
• 2013 Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI): A Path to Growing Food Security in the Northwest Territories (NWT) Final Program Evaluation Report. Published February 2014 by Tri En Communications:

Thank you for your support and for enabling collaborative work to build a productive and sustainable agriculture sector in the NWT that we can all be proud of.

Sincerely, The Board of the Northern Farm Training Institute
– Jackie Milne, M.S.M., Chair
Market Gardener for over 25 years, creator of the Northern Farm Training Institute, Hay River, NT
– Chief Roy Fabian, Director
Dene Activist and Chief of K’atl’odeeche since 2009; Hay River Reserve, NT
– Robert Bromley, Director
Member of the Legislative Assembly from 2007 – 2015, B.Sc. University of Calgary, a Masters University of Alaska, and PhD Oregon State University, founder of Ecology North in 1971; Yellowknife, NT
– Helen Green, Director
Commercial Mixed Vegetable, Fresh Flower and Honey Producer 10 years; Hay River NT
– Leon Bouchard, Director Market gardener and successful small-business owner, one of NFTI’s first graduates; Hay River NT”

Click here to read the Analysis of ITI Draft CAP Policy 2018:

CAP Policy Draft Comments NFTI 2018 final

If you want to also comment on their draft policy (due date of March 16th), please send a letter to:

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