Food Sovereignty on centre stage for Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations

Salmon is hanging to dry in a traditional method in the Ahousaht First Nation territory.
The Nuu-chah-nulth Traditional Food Gathering event will share traditional food preparation techniques and celebrate cultural heritage through knowledge exchange opportunities. Photos Courtesy of Ahousaht First Nation.
March 2024 event addresses vital need to expand food sovereignty and emergency food planning activities for 14 Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations and nearby communities

COURTENAY, 6  FEBRUARY 2024: The Ahousaht First Nation will host a major convening that will bring 14 Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations together to address vital food sovereignty and security opportunities. The project is supported through the Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Investment Readiness Program.

The Traditional Food Gathering event, scheduled for March 21-22, 2024, in Port Alberni, will bring together up to 200 participants from communities dispersed across Vancouver Island. This event is an opportunity for mutual learning, knowledge-sharing and focused collaboration. Together, the leadership at this event will aim to establish and implement a comprehensive and sustainable strategy to advance food sovereignty for their communities.

Through the Nuu-chah-nulth Food and Nutrition Sovereignty Network, the event received unanimous endorsement from representatives in all 14 Nations. Invitations have been extended to First Nations communities across Vancouver Island, including Kwakwaka’wakw and Coast Salish, to further build relationships and learn from diverse experiences.

The event is anticipated to spur economic development, providing collaborative opportunities for local businesses, artisans, and food producers. Knowledge sharing will be a central theme, providing opportunities to learn traditional skills, culinary expertise, and sustainable agricultural practices. By providing an immersive experience, the event should strengthen cultural heritage and promote community pride.

Island Coastal Economic Trust is investing $30,000 into the Nuu-chah-nulth Food Sovereignty Gathering and Solutions project through the Investment Readiness Program. Ahousaht First Nation is leading the project, which will realize a total investment of at least $152,000.

An Ahousaht First Nation community member gathers shellfish along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Traditional Nuu-chah-nulth food is prepared and preserved. Shellfish harvest displayed in three buckets along the west coast of Vancouver Island

What Leaders are Saying

“Indigenous food security and sovereignty is an important factor of the overall health and wellbeing of our people. Our connection to the surrounding lands and waters is a vital component of our cultural identity and our ability to survive and thrive as a people. Ahousaht is pleased to host the Island Indigenous Foods Gathering 2024 to support the ongoing healing and nurturing qualities that our food systems and practices have to offer.” Chief n̓aasʔałuk, John Rampanen, Ahousaht First Nation

“The re-establishment of traditional food sovereignty and security for First Nations is such an important part of our work in reconciliation. By supporting this traditional food gathering, the Trust will help hundreds more Indigenous people get the tools they need to empower their communities with access to traditional and nutritious food.” – Hon. Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim

“We are excited to invest in the Ahousaht First Nation as they establish this event. This initiative shows their leadership in establishing vital food sovereignty through economic development opportunities and traditional knowledge sharing that will benefit First Nations communities across Vancouver Island.” – Aaron Stone, Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust

About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $60 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $333 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,750 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

Learn more about Island Coastal Economic Trust.

Media Contacts

Jeff Bartlett
Communications and Impact Manager
Island Coastal Economic Trust

Nitanis Desjarlais
Traditional Foods Activator
Ahousaht First Nation