Food waste represents unnecessary footprint emissions. According to the report released by FarmFolk CityFolk in 2019, Climate Change Mitigation Opportunities in Canadian Agriculture and Food Systems, “Canada’s large land area and low average population density make food waste reduction more challenging in Canada than other countries. This population distribution has meant that food is often transported over great distances.”
Jess Housty, Executive Director of Qqs Projects Society, a Haíɫzaqv charitable non-profit focused on supporting youth and families to thrive through community and cultural programming, was born and raised in Bella Bella. “I was really blessed to grow up in a family that spent a lot of time out in the lands and waters harvesting ancestral foods, but also with parents and grandparents who had gardens at home. I had a lot of access in my childhood to very local foods and skill-building that was really amazing,” says Housty.
Housty’s father founded Qqs Project Society when she was a teenager and was dedicated to supporting positive community development work, particularly related to youth and families. Housty reflects, “I got to grow up in the organization, participating and then eventually leading community-identified projects.”
In 2012, the society rebuilt a facility that was lost to a serious fire. Housty recalls, “It was challenging, but gave us an opportunity to purpose-build a facility that really reflected who we were, where we worked, in the kind of programs we wanted to run. When we started envisioning that new space, we built a lot of garden space into it because we wanted to build some capacity and teach the skills around growing your own food to kids and families. We also wanted to grow as much of our own produce as we could.”
In 2016, off the shores of Bella Bella, the Nathan E. Steward oil spill caused an environmental disaster for Housty’s community.
It spilled 110,000 litres of diesel, and over 5,000 litres of heavy oil in an ecosystem that our community members know is the breadbasket of our nations. It was a place where we harvested dozens of marine and intertidal species,” recounts Housty.