This toolkit was produced by contributors living and working on unceded and traditional Indigenous lands and territories, including: Musqueam; Squamish; Tsleil-Waututh; Kwalikum; Snaw-naw-as; K’ómoks; Quw’utsun; Ktunaxa; Syilx (Okanagan); Sinixt; Gitxsan; Treaty 6 territory, home of the Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/Saulteaux/Anishinaabe and Inuit; and Treaty 2 territory, the traditional lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Assiniboine, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. The three in-depth case stories were developed in collaboration with farmers living on the unceded territories of the Songhees First Nation, Syilx First Nation, and Tsq’escen (Canim Lake Band) traditional territory of the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw.  

Young Agrarians recognizes the unresolved Indigenous land title and rights in the diverse territories in what is today called Canada. As we live and work in the context of and in response to a colonial system of laws and policies, it is important to acknowledge the historical and ongoing impact of agriculture and land enclosure on Indigenous lands and food systems. In this context, we acknowledge our collective responsibility to position Indigenous Peoples and their experiences with coloniality, in a narrative of reconciliation that places ecology, land stewardship, and Indigenous land title and rights at the forefront – if we are to sustain the Earth’s ecosystems in today’s rapidly changing climate. 

“First Nations peoples’ have a special relationship with the earth and all living things in it. This relationship is based on a profound spiritual connection to Mother Earth that guided indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity. It is also based on the subsistence needs and values extending back thousands of years. Hunting, gathering, and fishing to secure food includes harvesting food for self, family, the elderly, widows, the community, and for ceremonial purposes. Everything is taken and used with the understanding that we take only what we need, and we must use great care and be aware of how we take and how much of it so that future generations will not be put in peril.” Source: afn.ca/honoring-earth

The western science-based research and resource management system treats land as a commodity rather than a relationship and sacred honouring. It is not possible to reconcile the commodification of land in a colonial system that fails to value the land as ancestral, spiritual and cultural home, and the basis of our relationships to the natural world. As an organization working with new and young farmers to increase access to land and infrastructure needed to grow food, it is important to identify this contradiction. Further, as we live in an inherently complex regulatory environment within an increasingly inflated capitalist system of land speculation, any solutions we create to ensure the present and future generations can access land call for complex systems thinking. There are no simple solutions to land transition in the cultural, political and socio-economic context we live. Collectively, we need land to grow food and regenerate and protect ecosystems for a healthy future planet that can mitigate climate change. 

This toolkit was created with the intention that, through the concepts and stories it explores, landholders and farmers will be able to envision future transitions for the land, and better understand the central nature of relationships to nurture future healthy food systems. In the context of Indigenous and settler groups working together, we believe that it is through relationships that cross-cultural spaces emerge and the giving back, reopening of lands for food provisioning and re-wilding of ecologies can be nurtured. It is our hope that there will be more pathways to reconciliation across these lands into the future. While this guide is primarily focused on options for land transition within the land title system, we will endeavour in the coming years to cultivate organizational capacity for working within cross-cultural frameworks to support farmers in our network to engage in decolonization and reconciliation processes through a relationship based approach, at the landscape scale as they are defined by Indigenous and naturally occuring boundaries – towards the goal of a transition to a just land and food system.

The Young Agrarians network emerged to support a new generation to care for and love the land. Many of the farmers in our network grow food and farm because of their environmental and social values; ecology is what is capturing people’s imagination and re-connecting them to the food system. The network works to facilitate knowledge sharing and community building to create the change we want to be. Our deepest hope is that the future of our food systems is diverse, interconnected, and resilient, embraces people of all walks of life and sustains the water, plants, and creatures in ways that benefit and work alongside Indigenous Peoples and narratives and ways of knowing and caring for the land.

Reconciliation & Decolonization Resources:
Continue to Toolkit Acknowledgements
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