Monday May 29, 2022
By Johnny Hawke
Gaagige Zaagibiga, formerly, The Northern Ontario Indigenous Food Security Collaborative is a community-led initiative that is bringing Indigenous practitioners, funders and other stakeholders together to develop a food system planning and resourcing process that strengthens Indigenous food sovereignty and food security.
ACTION's (Anishinaabek Clans to Invoke our Nation) Regional Coordinator, Johnny Hawke from the Gchimnissing Anishinabek (Beausoleil First Nation) applied to the opportunity as part of ACTION'S Bii Giiweymin Food Sovereignty Project and helped Indigenous Youth from his community help feed their families and occupy traditional territory for harvesting rights on their traditional territory.
ACTION's Bii Giiweymin is helping community members use their territories for Spring Harvesting for this applications such as Maple Syrup Production and Pickeral Spearing Harvest in their Clan’s Traditional Territory.
"For 100 years our 7 First Nations of the Williams Treaty have been criminalized for feeding ourselves where our rights to our lands were un lawfully surrendered in the 1923 Williams Treaty but have been reinstated in a 2018 Agreements" explains Hawke.
In 2018 an agreement between 7 First Nations; Beausoleil, Hiawatha, Curve Lake, Scugog, Rama, Georgina Island, Alderville and the Province of Ontario and Federal Government compenated these communities and reinstated their harvesting rights to 13 Million Acres in central Ontario.
"ACTION is a self sufficient grassroots collective remerging traditional governance and exercising inherit rights such as Food Security and Food Sovereignty initiatives.” says Hawke.
Gaagige Zaagibiga's Facebook Page states that currently, in northern Ontario, there is no systematic or organized strategy for addressing food insecurity in Indigenous communities that clearly links community driven priorities, integrated comprehensive planning, and financial and technical resources. The Centre is supporting the Collaborative to develop a community-led food system planning and resourcing process with the goal of supporting households and communities to advance food-based initiatives that align with Indigenous values and in Indigenous settings.
Gaagige Zaagibiga translates to 'forever cultivating' where the organization began in 2020 under the name “The Northern Ontario Indigenous Food Sovereignty Collaborative – NOIFSC”.
ACTION’s Bii Giiweymin Project with the help of Gaagige Zaagibiga helped teach youth about Harvesting Maple Sap and producing Syrup. Three Households with 6 Adults and 8 Youth participated and produced 5 Gallons of Maple Syrup from tapping 48 Trees on Hawkes Family Lands of 90 Acres on Beausoleil First Nation which is a remote community in Georgian Bay. A Sweet Water Ceremony was conducted and traditional songs shared with the family youth of Hawke. A Community Breakfast was intended but due to covid restrictions that flared up again it was cancelled.
After the Sap was done running Hawke and Travis Assance of Georgina Island First Nation, took out other men from their community to Spear Pickerel. This opportunity allowed these 4 families purchase spears and headlamps to participate in the spring pickerel run in their Traditional Territory.
Hawke and 4 other Men, speared roughly 120 Pounds of Pickerel in a week and dispersed first to Elders in their community and fed their own families. Due to the dangers of spearing at night and in areas of flowing river streams in Port Severn and in Tyendinaga Territory no youth were able to participate for their safety.
Johnny Hawke an organizer of ACTION has been reclaiming contested lands of the Negik and Atik Clan Territories (Simcoe County) since 2009 for Water and Land Defence and exercising harvesting and hunting rights.
For More information on Gaagige Zaagibiga and ACTION is available at the group’s websites.