Thank you for this opportunity.
There are 633 first nations or bands in Canada and 203 in B.C. Collectively, we're all positioned to be community hubs for regional food security and stability, with capacity to expand incrementally into the provision of surplus fresh and processed meats, fruits and vegetables for Canada. Faced with the decline and possible extirpation of the Fraser River wild salmon stocks, Kanaka has articulated that the people of the salmon must become the people of the potato.
Kanaka intuitively knows that what we are experiencing on the ground here today—forest fires, flooding, air quality, smoke inversion layers, wind events, power failures, changed precipitation patterns and heat—will be growing in frequency, duration and intensity, with even greater adverse impacts on local area agriculture production and food availability. Therefore, Kanaka has made a commitment to become a sustainable food self-sufficient community, and has instituted the first proactive steps in doing so.
Located in British Columbia in a region known as “Canada's hot spot”, Kanaka is one of 15 communities that make up the Nlaka’pamux Nation today. Kanaka Bar's story is available online. A recent Kanaka presentation on sustainable agriculture, “From the Ground Up”, is also located on our website.
A basic quality of life requires stability in food, air, water and shelter. To better understand these essential life elements, Kanaka recently completed a land use plan, a community economic development plan and a climate change assessment and adaptation report. All of these are available online through our community website.
These foundational documents and our first steps towards sustainable self-sufficiency are small due to resource deficiencies. Support today to address foundational deficiencies in land, agricultural infrastructure, data, people and money would be appreciated. The following is a list of areas where Canada could provide support toward indigenous communities, as their own-source revenues are small.
The first area is land. Kanaka assessed our current reserve land base and wound up purchasing six adjacent fee simple lands off reserve for the purposes of securing and developing food, shelter and water certainty for the community. We used OSR to produce maps of the land and resources on and off reserve. We have started to clear the land; fence the land; start crops, chicken coops and beehives; and build a first greenhouse. Greenhouses, barns and fences are needed in the summer now to protect crops and animals from extreme heat, drought, air quality and light diffusion issues. Development off reserve can also see an increase in regional taxes, as infrastructure investments are improvements that change assessed values.
The second area is water. Kanaka has installed water-gauging stations on four of our year-round water sources to generate site-specific data regarding water quantity and water quality. Kanaka has started replacing antiquated and inefficient ditches with water lines and new above-ground intakes so that we can have stable and predictable year-round water for drinking, agricultural purposes and small hydroelectric purposes. Surplus water can also be made available for the region in case they run out of water, or be used for fire protection purposes too. Kanaka could use financial supports to pay for the design and construction of legacy water diversions, lines, storage and treatment.
With regard to weather, using OSR, Kanaka has installed three weather stations to monitor site-specific temperature, precipitation, wind speed and air quality. Kanaka is therefore designing and implementing agricultural practices for the environment of tomorrow based on site-specific data so that we have sustainable agriculture. We can share the data with Canada, but we will need support to ensure that the information we gather meets national meteorological standards.
The last area is electrification. The cost of fuel is going up and soon scarcity will come into play. This is regressive—these costs are passed on to our membership—so Kanaka is seeking to become energy self-sufficient. Kanaka has completed the installation of seven solar projects to date, and now has two years of annual solar data collected, allowing for the design and expansion of small solar. Other data sources allow for wind and hydro to be harnessed as well, which can power our buildings, our agricultural infrastructure and electric vehicles. Canada can support Kanaka's agricultural electrification initiatives similar to the recent electric tractor story out of Ontario and the solar-, wind- and hydro-powered greenhouses, barns and processing centres.
Thank you again for allowing Kanaka to share. After all, what we do to the land we do to ourselves.