Biigtigong Nishnaabeg

Pic River First Nation

About this Nation

Biitigong Nishnaabeg (Pic River First Nation) is located off highway 11/17, approximately 352 km east of Thunder Bay. It is accessible by Highway 627, adjacent to Pukaskwa National Park, with reserve land totalling 332.7 hectares in size. The traditional territory encompasses over two million hectares combined with Exclusive and Shared territory on the north shore of Lake Superior. Pic River First Nation has asserted Aboriginal Title and has filed a comprehensive land claim in the Ontario Superior Court for Aboriginal title over its traditional territory. Biigtigong Nishnaabeg is a vibrant and growing community with an increasing population. Currently, there are 1,200 registered members, with 500 members living in the community.

Food Sovereignty Visions
  • Expansion of Traditional Food Sharing Program (Refrigeration): Since phase 2a of the project Biigtigong has identified the need for a refrigerator for the traditional food sharing program, the program will become a hub for all community food programming and harvests and the food sovereignty committee to have a base home.  In addition to the freezer purchased in phase 2a the community identified the need for this space to be a hub for food programming. The project and community teams along with the committee are beginning the process of understanding and implementing these two initiatives early in the 2020 year taking the time to connect all community food programming currently happening.
  • Support for Food Sovereignty Committee and Health Centre Team: The project team is working with the committee and health centre team to develop a workplan and look for additional sources of funding, this is on-going work and will continue throughout the 2020 year.
  • Traditional Food Sharing Freezer Program: The community hosts a yearly fall harvest which brings in many harvested foods from the area, from berries and medicines to moose and geese. The Health Centre wanted to build on an idea of communal food storage identified through the Food Sovereignty Committee and support that through the purchase of a freezer that can host a wide range of traditional foods for community members and programs to access. The project supported the purchase of the freezer and the health centre staff and Food Sovereignty committee have been working toward connecting community programming and the fall harvest with the freezer, although this idea is not in full operation at this point the teams and committee are in the process of working out details for this to happen more effectively and be connected to the goals of the food sovereignty plan.
  • Food Sovereignty Committee/Staff (Education/Engagement Campaign): Through a number of programs, departments, and engaged community members, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg has been actively working towards food security and food sovereignty goals that align with the overall vision for the community. These food related activities generally fall into the following categories: harvesting & production; education & skill building; direct food access; eating together; distribution; processing; land management; and communal food storage. Through working with the Indigenous Food Circle (IFC) Understanding Our Food Systems project in 2018/2019, active community departments determined that what was further needed to work towards food security and sovereignty goals in the community was increased connection to traditional food systems for people of all ages; a deeper understanding of where food currently comes from and how to ensure health and sustainability in the longer term; and meeting the immediate needs of access to fresh, healthy food for everyone. The key changes that Biigitgong Nishnaabeg is trying to make in the long term are community sustainability through food sovereignty. Thinking and applying a food sovereignty lens to community food work inherently means thinking seven generations ahead, to ensure that for future generations there is also food and healthy land.  Working towards this goal in the short term, the community sees beginning with increased community connection and education; developing a team focused on furthering community food work; and engaging the community in the planning process for long term food sovereignty in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg.