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Description of the Projects

Collaborative Action on Childhood Obesity Phase 2 (2012-2014)

In CACO1, the coalition’s goal was to contribute to reversal in the escalating trend in child and youth obesity by reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and screen-time by Canadian youth and by providing a viable, local and culturally relevant alternative food management model in Aboriginal communities.

In CACO2, we are leveraging the resources, partnerships and processes developed in CACO1 to broaden the reach and deepen the impact of our prevention efforts by targeting additional settings where children live, learn and play. We are addressing screen-time, sugary drinks, physical inactivity, and fruit and vegetable consumption in the 2-5 year age group by enhancing capacity in early learning settings (policy, technical abilities and environments) and by reaching out to parents and families with our resources and key messages. We are also mobilizing an evidence-based capacity building initiative from BC that aims to increase the provision of healthy food and beverages while restricting unhealthy options in municipal and community recreation facilities. We are aiming for consistent messaging across the various environments that predispose, enable and reinforce healthy behaviours.

In rural, remote First Nations communities we are deepening our impact by adding to the land-sea-based food procurement and distribution strategies already underway. We are supporting the introduction of a culturally appropriate dance-oriented physical activity intervention, and an evidence-based market-foods literacy program. In addition, CACO2 is moving beyond a physical health orientation to help strengthen community-based capacity to address some of the core mental health issues that affect resiliency and holistic wellness.

To achieve these goals the coalition has three specific aims:

1) To increase access to positive local and culturally relevant food, physical activity opportunities, mental health supports and to improve health literacy in nine rural, remote aboriginal communities across British Columbia, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Ontario.

2) To increase the implementation of evidence-based health promotion and literacy approaches that predispose, enable and reinforce healthy food, beverage, screen-time and physical activity choices by children in settings where they spend their time (e.g. school, early learning community and the home).

3) To create supportive environments by enhancing capacity and supporting health promoting policy development locally, in community recreation and early learning settings and regionally through cross-jurisdiction partnerships and knowledge exchange.


· Childhood Obesity Foundation

· Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada

· Government of the Northwest Territories

· Government of Yukon

· Heart and Stroke Foundation of Québec

· Heart and Stroke Foundation of New Brunswick

CACO 2 Project Descriptions

Wawakapewin Land Based Food Preparation and Distribution Programwawakapewin

The first phase of the CACO project, which facilitated the development of a community kitchen, provided a central location for food storage, preparation, and distribution. Building on the infrastructure created in the first phase, the focus of the second phase is to encourage these local practices. As a result, building skill sets around community food preparation, cooking, preservation techniques and healthy food distribution have become the objectives of the second phase.

As part of a holistic approach to health and recognizing the role traditional food procurement plays in attaining wellness, a community member has been identified to be educated as a trainer in the Mental Health Association of Canada’s Mental Health First Aid. The program aims to provide the skills and knowledge to help recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and provide guidance to refer a person to the appropriate resources.

Enhancing Youth Awareness in Aspects of Traditional Food Procurement and Community Food Security in Ahousaht First Nation, BCAhousaht-logo

For generations, the people of Ahousaht were fishermen, hunters, and gatherers. These traditions, though still in existence, have become less common with the introduction of modern day conveniences, resulting in the loss of traditional way of life – especially with youth in the community.

To re-engage youth and preserve culture, they will participate in traditional of food procurement activities through guided field trips with Elders. Traditional methods of food preparation and preservation will be taught in existing community kitchens. Youth will play an active role in the dissemination of knowledge through video stories, social media and traditional forums. Through these food security and land-based food initiatives, it is expected that youth will be empowered to participate and reaffirm pride in their traditions while preserving culture in Ahousaht First Nation.

Increasing Access to Traditional Foods in Kwanlin Dünkwanlin-logo

This project aims to increase access to traditional foods through Kwanlin Dün’s internationally recognized Intensive Therapeutic Community Project. Skilled hunters and gathers will be engaged to train community members, to teach hunting and fishing skills, and procure foods for distribution based on identified needs of families, individuals, and the community programs. This includes meals-on-wheels, healthy family programs, and community events.

Additionally, Kwanlin Dün has partnered with Elijah Smith School to implement a traditional harvest experience for grade seven students as part of their curriculum. Grade seven students will participate in a bison harvest, led by skilled hunters to learn about traditional food procurement and harvesting practices. Students will help plan the bison feast and ceremony and will be involved in the distribution of harvested foods. By engaging community members in these experiences, it is expected that the consumption of local foods, access to land-based activities for youth and an awareness of the health value of traditional foods will all be increased in the community.

Outdoor Education-Training Program in Wunnumin Lakesh wunn_logo

Wunnumin Lake has developed an outdoor education-training program that will teach youth land-based survival skills. Taking place on Ontario’s statutory holiday (family day), activities will be organized to teach youth outdoor survival skills. Shelter construction is underway to accommodate youth who will participate in overnight trips while learning how to ice fish and set marten traps. Participants will learn how to start fires, create shelters and will use snowshoes while learning how to navigate on the land.

Enhancing Wild Food Procurement for Dene and Métis Youth to Address Childhood Obesity in Fort Providence, NWTfort providence

Deh Gah Elementary and Secondary School is playing a hands-on role in increasing access to and awareness of the benefits of consuming wild foods. In doing so, they are also supporting cultural continuities. Local hunters and fishermen will be recruited to procure game for the school’s students in kindergarten to grade 12. The foods, including white fish, moose, caribou, and wood bison, will be traditionally prepared (dried and smoked) and incorporated into the school’s daily Health Snack program. Twice a year, local experts in land-based practices will visit each classroom to share knowledge about local wild foods. These intergenerational knowledge exchange sessions will include preparation and preservation methods and will emphasize the importance of consuming wild foods for health and cultural continuity.

Children and youth will also be provided with practical experience preparing healthy snacks in the school’s kitchen. Students will capture their experiences using photographs and video, which will be uploaded to a facebook website to document and share students’ perspectives.

Enhancing Wild Food Procurement for Dene and Métis Youth to Address Childhood Obesity in Fort Resolution, NWTfort resolution-big

The Deninu School has developed a program to help address childhood obesity through supporting land-based initiatives and building healthy community relationships around wild foods and local cultural practices. Through a local fishing program, running from December 2012 to March 2013, Deninu School staff, local harvesters, elders and volunteers were recruited to work with students to share knowledge about fish harvesting, preparation and preservation, as well as the importance of consuming wild foods for health and cultural continuity.

Students from kindergarten through grade 12 will partner with local harvesters to set fish nets under Great Slave Lake and harvest the fish from the nets. Students learn about both traditional and modern smoking techniques at the school’s new smokehouse. As well as consuming the fish, they will also have the opportunity to package and distribute it to community members. High school students will track the amount of fish harvested, prepared and distributed as a component of students’ community service hours. Students will document their experiences using photography and videos, which will be uploaded, along with related text, to the school’s website to share their perspectives and experiences.

Carcross/Tagish First Nation Focus on Education to Raise Awareness about Food Security & Sustainability


Carcross/Tagish First Nation is working in partnership with community members and surrounding educational institutions to raise awareness about food sustainability, food security, and health.

Boys in grades seven, eight, and nine will embark on a hands-on educational trapping program. Two of Carcross/Tagish First Nation’s most experienced hunters will mentor the boys on building their own snares and safely setting, cleaning, and maintaining traps, as well as building cubbies and setting lines. Students will learn to process fur, prepare meat, and keep records of sets, sightings, and fur caught. The students will prepare a community luncheon and be awarded their first knives, in honour of their role as next hunters and leaders of Carcross/Tagish First Nation.

Elders will also teach children and youth both traditional and modern techniques of recording, processing, and preparing fish. A community feast will be held and the catch will be distributed throughout the community.

In the spring, in collaboration with Yukon College, a community garden project will be launched; the Master Gardening Project is an adult education program that will combine in-classroom education sessions with practical, hands-on experience setting up and working in a community garden. Later in the growing season, youth, elder and children’s programs will be implemented.

Wapekeka First Nation’s Appraoch to Improve Community Health wap

Recognizing that culture and access to traditional foods are integral to wellbeing, Wapekeka First Nation has developed a multi-pronged approach to improve community health through education and community capacity building activities.

Youth in grades six, seven, and eight will participate in land-based food acquisition activities that will teach them how to prepare for winter excursions, navigate the land, and set traps for wild game and nets for ice fishing. Youth will be taught how to prepare and store game. They will participate in community feasts where yields will be shared with community members.

Wapekeka’s land-based healing program will reconnect people to land-based activities to support mental health and reaffirm cultural competencies. As part of a drug addiction program’s aftercare, selected individuals will participate in land based activity training and fish harvesting trips as mentors to participating youth.

To teach youth about the art of making traditional materials and to promote an economic generating activity, an Elder will teach youth how to home tan moose hide and beaver to make traditional crafts.

Food of Our Own: Enhancing Youth Awareness in Aspects of Traditional Food Procurement and Community Food Security in Gitxaala Nation, BCgitxaala

Traditionally, the people of Gitxaala First Nation were fisherman, hunters, and gatherers – at tradition that continues, though is less common as a result of cultural change and modern day conveniences. In order to preserve this traditional way of life and achieve food security in a sustainable manner, it is imperative to actively engage youth.

Gitxaala will involve youth in food procurement activities designed to transfer knowledge through both traditional and modern methodologies. Youth will participate in gatherings specifically to discuss issues related to food and its impact on health. They will then participate in guided field trips where elders and knowledgeable community members will teach youth about traditional methods of food harvesting. Utilizing existing community kitchens, a forum will be created where youth will learn traditional methods of food preparation and preservations.

Youth will document ‘stories of change’ with video recorders to be uploaded to social model outlets. Posters and brochures will be designed and developed for dissemination in the communities. Through these land-based educational activities, it is expected that youth will be empowered to participate and reaffirm pride in their traditions while preserving culture in Gitxaala.

Collaborative Action on Childhood Obesity Phase 1

This project involves the partnership of 3 remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. In partnership with Chiefs and Council and health officials, land-based dietary and physical activity monitoring and documenting will be implemented in each community. The basic project objectives are to 1) Decrease the consumption of junk foods through education and involvement with community stores in each of the 3 communities and 2) increase access and consumption of good foods (a combination of healthy store-bought/market foods and local/traditional foods). CLASP is an initiative of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC). CLASP reaches beyond the cancer community by developing funding agreements with coalitions that cross provincial and territorial boundaries and integrate cancer prevention with other chronic disease prevention strategies.

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

The core objective of the project was to facilitate healthier weights by contributing to food security in partner communities. Key strategies include: increasing local capacity to procure, process and equitably distribute off-the-land foods (game and fish); and, supporting the development and implementation of new skills, knowledge and interest in vegetable gardening. For effectiveness and sustainability, the project is structured around intergenerational sharing of traditional and new knowledge, with Elders as the foundation of the knowledge sharing process.

National First Nations Environmental Contaminants Program (NFNECP)

Phase I (2007-2008)

Risk–Benefit Analysis of Contaminants in First Nations Communities Drawing from Off-the-Land Food Sources

This project (Phase I of II) provided a benefit-risk assessment of off-the-land diets in northern First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario. Relationships between levels of Wild-Food consumption and human blood contaminant levels and the incidence/prevalence of Type II Diabetes were established. By determining the primary sources of contaminants and the pathways through which they move through the food web, factors that affect their concentration and the relative risks that these contaminants pose to humans, we are working to provide guidelines for TDIs quantifying the amount of off-the-land food that can be safely consumed without causing adverse health effects (e.g. obesity, and type II diabetes).

Phase II (2009-2010)

Benefits, Risks and Viability of an Ecosystem Food and Health Model in Wapekeka and Kasabonika First Nations

In this second phase of the study we sought ways to optimize safe consumption of off-the-land foods in northern First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario. Working from findings in Phase I, Phase II involved: 1) documenting the presence of environmental contaminants in currently consumed wild foods according to fishing and hunting locations as documented in Phase I; 2) measuring biochemical effects of predominant environmental contaminants identified in Phase I on human fat cell functions; 3) quantifying the benefits of off-the-land diet on blood fatty acid profiles (ratio of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids) and relate profiles with chronic disease, i.e., type 2 diabetes; 4) documenting through video recording food harvesting/preparation/consumption practices for knowledge translation resource materials.

The CIHR Catalyst Grant (2009)

The ultimate objectives of this research was to understand potential triggers for chronic disease in northern and aboriginal communities, and design strategies for preventing or minimizing exposure to those triggers. In this preliminary investigation we conducted some basic information gathering on microbial ecology of waterborne and foodborne pathogens

Right to Play Canada

Starting in 2010, this proposal’s researchers, in partnership with Right To Play and participating First Nations communities, we have been working to further refine physical activity programming for youth in each community It is an interdisciplinary combination of 3 interrelated studies in the two first participating communities: Study 1 analyzes community mobilization and engagement with the PLAY program throughout implementation to understand and guide its sustainability. Study 2 focuses on the youth in the community and evaluate the acquisition of life-skills and their impact on development using the RE-AIM framework. Study 3 examines the perceptions of the diverse institutions involved in the PLAY program. Six contributions derive from this community-based research: 1) It aims to enhance community wellbeing through youth development and engagement; 2) It will positively impact excluded youth within specific highly disadvantaged Canadian communities; 3) It will inform and reinforce subsequent PLAY program and determine CSF for sustainable sport-based programs in FNMI communities; 5) It will address gaps in the literature related to community mobilization through sports programming for vulnerable populations, and commensurate evaluation tools; and 6) It will inform the incipient Canadian Sport Policy renewal process by understanding better the fundaments of sport for development, particularly from an FNMI perspective.

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