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Northwest Territories Sustainable Agriculture Visioning Workshop

In October 2023, the LCSFS, the Government of Northwest Territories, and the Territorial Agrifood Association hosted the NWT Sustainable Agriculture Visioning Workshop. During this workshop, stakeholders from different food system sectors in the NWT gathered at Wilfrid Laurier University to co-write an application for a SSHRC/NSERC Alliance Grant. Participants were selected by our core NWT partners and represented commercial food production at different scales, community growers, food educators, non-governmental organisations and advocates, territorial policy officers and the Fort Smith Metis Development Corporation. Participants were facilitated by the core academic and partner team, using coproduction methods to discuss their visions for the future of food systems in the NWT.

Sessions included participatory exercises, expert presentations, field excursions and group discussions, as well as shared meals. While recognising that those present did not represent all food system sectors (including a notable absence of Indigenous representatives), participants self-organised in ways that enabled dissenting voices to be aired. Graduate students helped to facilitate activities and shared aspects of their expertise.

Outputs of the workshop formed the basis of the grant proposal, building on pre-existing relationships and knowledge to coproduce an overarching vision of a food system. Central components of the vison included increasing local production while fostering reconciliation; inspiring and employing future land workers with secure livelihoods; and contributing to regional and national Net Zero targets while building healthy landscapes and protecting against socioecological shocks.

The workshop also produced key research objectives including, building communities of practice; boosting local food provisioning; building a network of participatory research to identify innovative approaches (adapting ‘farmer-led research’ to a Northern context); shortening knowledge and access gaps between producers and consumers; building resilience (particularly in response to wildfire damage and risks) and ensuring food system development is sustainable and aligned with net zero goals.

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