Vancouver Coastal Health supports over 60 organizations through long-term, core funding streams, SMART and CFAI. One of our CFAI-funded organizations, Squamish Climate Action Network (CAN), is helping to bring climate change solutions to their community through food systems initiatives.
Climate change is an issue affecting every community in the province. Squamish CAN is a community action group that is working to develop and implement sustainable strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Creating a resilient, locally based food system is a pillar of their work. Squamish CAN has received CFAI funding since 2010. This program provides opportunities for the community, comprised of a large geographical region representing multiple social and economic demographics, to increase their food security knowledge and skills, and contribute to a robust food system.
With climate change shifting weather patterns and affecting food systems, Squamish CAN Director Krystle tenBrink notes that being able to share information about their initiatives and existing structural challenges in the Sea-to-Sky area is a huge component of their mission. She shares how the CFAI funding has supported Squamish CAN to address some of these issues: "VCH's support has allowed us to leverage funding and opportunities with partners at both the 'boots on the ground' level as well as with bigger picture, long term planning. We have established community gardens, built the Mamquam Edible Schoolyard where we are supporting outdoor learning curriculum with elementary students, and have continued to host educational workshops throughout the Sea-to-Sky region. Our Food Policy Council works closely with the local and regional governments and community groups; a big success was integrating food systems policy into our official community plan which has led to the development of a Squamish Valley Agricultural Plan. We are continually motivated by the impact our work and the ideas, solutions and actions that come from our community members."
The participatory nature of Squamish CAN's food sovereignty initiatives allows the community to consider food security beyond the production framework and the constructs of traditional agricultural practices. It incorporates Indigenous knowledge and voices from underserved community members. Projects are designed to foster collaboration with other local food sovereignty initiatives, and facilitate opportunities for knowledge sharing and partnership. These collaborative efforts lead to positive change that helps strengthen the local and regional food system, and ensure community members have the knowledge and resources to access, consume, and preserve locally available produce and natural sources of nourishment, contributing to overall community wellness and social connectedness.
In developing community capacity and agency, Squamish CAN works alongside residents to support them to be more actively involved in food security and food policy, contributing to a sustainable, healthy community with a just food system.
Find out more about Squamish CAN's work here: http://squamishcan.net/