JOB: OTTAWA, ON – USC Canada, Indigenous Seed Sovereignty Manager

Posted by Michalina Hunter on May 17, 2019

usc canada indigenous seed

USC Canada, in partnership with the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, is hiring a Program Manager for a one-year Indigenous Seed Sovereignty Project.

Apply by June 6, 2019 12 PM EST for an opportunity to join the team!

Position details: Start date July 9, 2019 (negotiable) to April 30, 2020, possibly renewable

Location: Ideally Ottawa, Canada. Remote work may be possible.

Why This Project

Indigenous Peoples and smallholder farmers are the original plant breeders. The diversity of crops all people benefit from today is thanks to their careful stewardship and knowledge of their territories. Despite the disruption of traditional land-based practices, seed keeping continues. It is a powerful force for cultural expression and food sovereignty that must be acknowledged, celebrated, and supported. USC Canada and the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network are partnering on a project to visit with and understand the practices of Indigenous Seed Keepers, explore opportunities to support their leadership, and build long-term programming to strengthen seed saving, land-based food traditions, and crop diversity.

The Partner Organizations

USC Canada is a charitable organization founded in 1945 rooted in the notions of human dignity and equality. Our mission is to build food sovereignty by working with partners to enhance biodiversity, promote ecological agriculture, and counter inequity. Our work is premised on a belief that poverty, inequality and hunger are created, rather than inherent, and we work to strengthen the agency and rights of those most affected by systemic barriers. In particular, we emphasize the rights and interests of women and youth to break down the structures that have marginalized and oppressed them throughout history.

Food systems touch every aspect of society, and are a powerful vehicle to address societal concerns: inequity in all its forms, human rights, gender disparity, hunger, poverty, environmental degradation, and climate change. We believe that through positive change in the food system, we can affect change across broader society, fostering a world with more justice, equality, and peace.

The Indigenous Seed Keepers Network (ISKN) is partnering with USC Canada to steward this project. ISKN has a mission to nourish and assist the growing Seed Sovereignty Movement across Turtle Island. As a national network, ISKN leverages resources and cultivates solidarity among grass-roots tribal seed sovereignty projects. It provides educational resources, mentorship, outreach and advocacy support on seed policy issues, and organize national and regional events to connect communities engaging in this vital work.

USC Canada is an equity opportunity employer that encourages Indigenous people, members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, racialized folks, people of all genders and abilities, and members of other under-represented communities to apply.

The Position

The Project Manager will organize and facilitate listening conversations in Southern Ontario and Quebec, build relationships with Indigenous seed keepers, engage other partners, and design a long-term Indigenous Seed Sovereignty program grounded in local leadership.

Key elements of the work include:

  • Building Relationships: through listening conversations and ongoing outreach, strengthen collaboration between USC Canada, ISKN and seed keepers, and with current and potential partners and allies in Indigenous Seed and Food Sovereignty.
  • Creating Shared Understanding : develop a strong understanding of the practices, challenges, opportunities, and leadership among Indigenous Seed Keepers, and share out this learning through documents and stories.
  • Program Development : build on learnings to design long-term programming in support of Indigenous Seed Sovereignty in Canada.
  • Fundraising : liaise with and report to the project’s funder, and engage current and prospective funding partners to build a community of support for the work.
  • Administration : Manage all logistics related to listening conversations, travel, and other program activities. Track and monitor the program budget.
  • Communications : Serve as the main spokesperson for the project, and provide photos and stories to share learning, always with respect and proper attribution to community members.
  • Developing our Internal Culture : Participate in a culture at USC Canada that promotes respect and values diversity in all its forms, and engage in general activities that serve USC Canada’s overall mission.

Who We Are Looking For

The ideal Program Manager will have the following demonstrated skills and experience:

  • Lived experience, or as an ally, a strong understanding of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples, communities and culture.
  • Outstanding interpersonal and relationship-building skills, valuing people and communities, and the ability to quickly establish trust.
  • Very strong facilitation skills, with experience working within a decolonized, anti-racism and/or anti-oppression framework.
  • Commitment to food sovereignty principles and approaches, with 5 years of practical experience in local and regional seed and food systems.
  • Background in program development and implementation, with strong strategic thinking and ability to implement programs while synthesizing learning and making adjustments.
  • Background in events, including logistics, communications, facilitation and follow up.
  • Ability to work independently, and also as part of a team, exercising good judgement in determining when to take initiative and when to consult others.
  • Excellent oral and written communication and listening skills.
  • Fluency in English; Working knowledge of French; Knowledge of any languages Indigenous to Turtle Island is a strong asset.
  • Background in fundraising and donor relations.
  • High level computer systems proficiency, particularly in MS Excel and Google based Applications.
  • Experience developing and overseeing budgets.

The position is full-time for 10 months, ideally based at USC Canada’s office in Ottawa. The Program Manager will report to USC Canada’s Executive Directors, and receive guidance and direction from the National Coordinator of the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network. USC Canada offers a comprehensive benefits package and competitive salary. This is a unionized position.

Applicants must be eligible to work in Canada.

How to Apply

Apply by email to:

Specify: Program Manager, Indigenous Seed Sovereignty in the subject of the email.

Please include your curriculum vitae with recent references, and a one-page reflection on the following question:

What are the keys to success in building Indigenous Seed Sovereignty in Canada?

We appreciate all applications, but only those shortlisted will be contacted.

When applying, please indicate that you saw this posting at

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