From May 9-11 in Vancouver, University of Saskatchewan students took home the Project Partnership Best Project award for the HSBC Indigenous Advancement Project at the 2017 Enactus Canada National Exposition. The winning project, Food for the Future, was one of four projects to represent the Enactus U of S team at the exposition.
The Enactus student group at the U of S is composed of 59 students who develop various entrepreneurial projects. Food for the Future enables vulnerable communities in Northern Saskatchewan to access funding and educational resources to create community gardens.
Christianne Blais, master’s student in physiology and team member of Food for the Future, explains the project’s overall goal and idea.
“Food for the Future aims to help empower Northern Saskatchewan communities to become food secure. Our rural and remote communities in Saskatchewan face severe food insecurity and have little or no access to affordable and high quality produce. As a result, they are much more susceptible to health problems such as diabetes and obesity,” Blais said, in an email to the Sheaf.
Enactus is a non-profit organization run by students from various colleges with the goal to create and implement economic opportunities for local communities through various educational initiatives.
Blais, who will be assuming the role of project manager of Food for the Future, goes on to explain that the team’s strategy over the past two years has been to establish community gardens where they are most needed.
“So far, we have constructed gardens in Beauval, St. George’s Hill, Dillon, Cumberland House and Pelican Narrows, and some of these communities have since expanded their garden [operations]. The ultimate goal is for the communities to become willing and able to construct a gardening system that could be in use year-round, thereby making them food sovereign,” Blais said.
Carlene James, a U of S alumna, explains why she enjoyed being part of the Food for the Future project.
“I’ve enjoyed all aspects of it, but if I was to pick one area I enjoy the most, it would be interacting with the community members. After planning for a few months, you get to go to these communities and build something really fantastic with them. I loved getting to know the community members and seeing their excitement to start gardening,” James said, in an email to the Sheaf.
James, who has been involved with the student club for four years, discusses the benefits of being a part of Enactus.
“Enactus helps you to pursue what you’re most passionate about. It also helps you build an entrepreneurial mindset. Being a part of this group, and this project in particular, shows individuals that they can have an impact on our communities for the better, and I think that is very valuable in building tomorrow’s leaders,” James said.
Dani Nichols, fifth-year marketing major and president of Enactus U of S, explains the accomplishments the Food for the Future project achieved this year within communities.
“This year, the team took the initiative and created an entirely new curriculum for workshops, continued to work with Floral Acres [Greenhouses, and] gained Early’s Farm and Garden as an excellent new partner … They organized everything on their own, with logistical support from myself and our vice president of project development, Andrea Landstad,” Nichols said, in an email to the Sheaf.
Nichols also explains that there are many other projects aside from Food for the Future, and she encourages students to join Enactus U of S.
“Food for the Future is only one of our projects, and we focus on additional issues such as youth empowerment, financial literacy, Indigenous entrepreneurship and food waste reduction,” Nichols said. “We are always looking to create new projects, and anyone can join our team from any college across the U of S.”