Decolonizing Food Systems: Working Towards Equity and Justice in British Columbia

Posted on Thursday, 13 July 2023 under Stories

As an organization and individually, at FarmFolk CityFolk, we are committed to a learning and action journey about what it is to work on food systems in a province that persists, largely, on unceded land, home to many Indigenous Nations and people since time immemorial.

When it comes to policy, this requires us, on a regular basis, to wrestle with working on colonial policy regimes while also seeking to contribute to decolonizing our minds, lands and waters, and food systems. This dual challenge was on view in two recent presentations to provincial government committees.

On June 12th, we addressed the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture. The Committee is populated with MLAs from all parties, and its current mandate is to explore soil health and carbon sequestration. We drew on recommendations in our report, Innovation & Impact: Achieving Regenerative Climate Action on BC Farms, to highlight ways in which farmers can and do contribute to healthy soils that are foundational to our collective food security as well as resilience in the face of the extreme weather events that are now a fact of life under climate change. To read the full text of our submission, click here.

On June 14th, we presented to the Standing Committee on Finance, contributing to the deliberations that will lead into the creation of the provincial budget for 2024. Many of the contributions by other presenters acknowledged the Indigenous Nations’ upon whose land they were located. Our presentation sought to reckon with what it means to be on the land of others – noting and thanking the original inhabitants does not address the historical and ongoing dispossession and harms that those very land acknowledgments flag.

Earlier this year, the Vatican repudiated the 500 year old “Doctrine of Discovery” that gave license to Christian explorers to seize land anywhere on the planet that was not already populated by other Christians. It was based on the racist notion that Indigenous Peoples were less than human. The repudiation by the Vatican of this doctrine does not undo 500 years of harm, but it does provide additional incentive to address land justice. Our presentation encouraged the “BC government to be proactive, thoughtful, humble, and generous in tackling land justice within our province. The level of investment will need to be significant, and it must include substantial funding to enable the leadership and full participation of Indigenous Nations in dialogue and action. These are uncharted territories in terms of settler – Indigenous collaboration that does not subordinate Indigenous Peoples to the colonial state. But BC has long been a leader of visionary undertakings: the time for land justice is long overdue.” Our full Budget presentation can be read here.