Community Resilience

Funding level: Up to $50,000


Our Idea:

Focus Forward is committed to being a catalyst for improved quality of life of Indigenous communities. This project will aim to promote positive change for the Wikwemikong First Nation located in Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

Our project, in partnership with the Wikwemikong Employment office and High School, will work towards building a greenhouse to support the educational goals for Indigenous students aged 14-19, while creating a community-led sustainable food source. Building a greenhouse is value-added approach to community capacity development, that will be community owned and led. Students at the high school will develop skills in construction, while also learning how to work together to fight “food security,” the idea that many remote communities lack access to fresh foods and hone limited agricultural knowledge.

The greenhouse will be built by the students of the Construction/Tech program, whereby participating students will receive high school credits for the work they perform. Once constructed, this greenhouse will provide the Wikwemikong High School the opportunity to launch an innovative Green Industries agricultural program that teaches students the benefits and challenges of creating a community-led sustainable food source. The program intends to open enrollment for fall 2018. The capacity of the community will be further enhanced through the efforts of the Employment Office, by ensuring the greenhouse can be utilized free of charge by all community members.

Why do we require funding?

The initial build of the greenhouse will use new innovative building techniques and technologies such as biomass and solar, which often come at a premium price. We also require funding for building materials and to ensure that outsourced engineers examine and approve the design. Furthermore, the success of the project relies heavily on the hiring of contractors and professionals in the trades to provide the educational components of the building project.

Community Needs:

Some of the issues currently facing Indigenous students include chronic under funding of on-reserve schools, lack of resources and culturally appropriate curriculum, low graduation rates, and student disengagement. These directly correlate to issues affecting the quality of life for Indigenous youth, such as alarmingly high rates of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and high rates of incarceration.

Focus Forward is attempting to address some of these challenges through the Wikwemikong Greenhouse for Change project. We plan to achieve:
• An increased sense of hope and inspiration among Indigenous youth,
• Opportunities to develop hands-on skills,
• Increased knowledge of solutions in solving "food security",
• Advanced knowledge and skills necessary to pursue a career in trades and/or agriculture, and
• Increased availability of healthy foods for the entire community.

How will this improve lives?

The Wikewemikong Greenhouse for Change aims to improve the overall quality of life for all community members. Specifically this project will:
• Re-engage and motivate Indigenous youth to pursue their dreams and graduate from high school – Youth will be provided with hands-on and employable skills that they can use to pursue post-secondary education or trades training, leading to positive impacts such as poverty reduction and drops in unemployment rates.
• Improve intergenerational relationships – Both the building and educational components of the project will involve numerous community members, creating an important opportunity to reverse some of the negative effects of the residential school system on kinship and community relations
• Providing affordable access to healthy and nutritious foods – Our idea has the potential to overcome challenges that affect Indigenous communities, such as diabetes and obesity, through agricultural education programming and an abundance of fresh produce options.

Broker supported

Focus Forward For Indigenous Youth

Location: Wikwemikong