Moose Cree First Nation has received $100,000 from the province’s Indigenous Economic Development Fund to do a feasibility study on setting up its own food co-op.
If you live in Ontario’s far north, you know how expensive food can be.
One First Nation community on the James Bay coast is taking a proactive approach to making food more affordable by creating a co-op.
The idea started about four years ago when people in Moose Cree First Nation were surveyed about the high cost of food and the cost of living.
The community recently received $100,000 from the province’s Indigenous Economic Development Fund to do a feasibility study on setting up its own food co-op.
Stan Kapashesit is director of economic development for Moose Cree First Nation.
He says the co-op model would be basically the same as it is anywhere else.
“People buy into it, they own a share, and they pay a membership fee,” said Kapashesit. “Each and every person that does will have a say and an opinion and they can share their concerns on how we operate,” he added.
Kapashesit said that members can also set prices and look at how food is shipped to the community.
“They can all be a part of it as opposed to being an outsider looking in,” he said.
There’ll be a bit of a learning curve to get the food co-op off the ground.
“People are used to having a store set up, and you go in and buy your food products
at a price that’s already been set,” said Kapashesit.
“For our co-op we have to educate the people on how food travels from point A to point B to to their kitchen table,” he explained. He hopes that the feasibility study will help promote that education piece for the community.
Kapashesit hopes that once the feasibility study and the business plan are done, the food co-op can be up and running by next summer.
Kapashesit says the food co-op has been years in the making.
“We did have an ad hoc committee previously assisting us and guiding us into this direction,” said Kapashesit. “We want to thank those previous members that were a part of it, and to be at this point now, hopefully it’ll lead to construction of our new co-op grocery store.”
Kapashesit hopes to share what his community learns about setting up its own food co-op with other First Nations.
“In the end, hopefully it leads to other projects around food security and food sovereignty,” he said.