Training and Curriculum Development for Food Preservation and Cultural Entrepreneurship​

Building on our first pilot project, this next iteration of Niriqatiginnga will include curriculum enhancement and expanded training opportunities.  Participants will learn to create, market and sell a food product, while exploring opportunities for cultural and food sector entrepreneurship. It addresses sustainable food systems through traditional knowledge exchange for cultural preservation, food literacy and economic reconciliation and increases replicability for northern community delivery.

In December 2023, this component of Niriqatiginnga was approved for funding from the Sustainable Canadian Agriculture Program – Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems program with Manitoba Agriculture

About the Project

Indigenous communities and stakeholders identified a need to preserve traditional food systems, promote cultural heritage, and to enable inclusive economic opportunities.

Building on a Fall-Winter 2023 pilot, this project enhances traditional food systems through training in canning, preservation, and transferable skills and career development. Niriqatiginnga’s second iteration expands to include internships and mentorship to highly-engaged, emerging food sector entrepreneurs interested in agri-food, food production, and related fields.

Learners explore canning, preservation, and creating, marketing, showcasing and selling new food products. This project also equips them with essential skills to enter the food sector. Through hands-on group workshops, food literacy, oral history, and community building through traditional knowledge sharing activities, participants experience canning and preservation in traditional and modern contexts.

The project team will enhance the basic curriculum and knowledge transfer materials developed during the pilot to improve its quality and facilitate scaling up the program. Facilitated by expert food industry mentors, workshops provide tools like canning jars, utensils, canners, and labels for hands-on learning.

Engaging with mentors and experts fosters an iterative process, promoting comprehensive understanding of canning and the exchange of innovative ideas. This way, the project fosters economic reconciliation by offering early-career pathways to agri-food sector employment. Relationship building and interactions continue beyond the program, forming a network contributing to long-term sustainability, individual and community well-being. Acquired skills are designed to create lasting impacts in participants’ careers and communities. Continuous feedback and Key Performance Indicators will be developed to drive ongoing improvements, and modular, replicable curriculum models for future delivery.

Knowledge Exchange for Sectoral Development

Exploring Cluster-Based Approaches

Innovation Clusters can be defined as: inter-connected organizations, projects and institutions working in a common industry. They involve the creation of collaborative and dynamic relationships between various players around common goals, innovative ideas, knowledge sharing, public and private investment. Clusters also foster collaborative environments around common frameworks designed to promote synergy and innovation. 

Some important examples of organizations, models and approaches we want to study are:

The Arctic Foods Innovation Cluster (AFIC) is a project that aims to pull together relevant people in the Arctic foods value chain for a cluster-based approach to food production and regional economic development. On this same front, we are also excited to learn about the UArctic Thematic Network on Northern Food Security.

Manitoba Agriculture’s Food Development Centre (FDC) is a fee-for-service facility that provides product commercialization with technical and research assistance for agri-food businesses. It provides a services focus on plant and animal protein products and ingredients to support the Manitoba Protein Advantage (MPA).

Training and Skills Development

The project expands and enhances the pilot program tested in Fall-Winter 2023 by scaling up into a comprehensive three-month training and mentorship initiative. The project also goes beyond food preservation, encompassing transferable skills for cultural entrepreneurship, and the agri-food, food processing, and product development sectors.

Training is designed based on prior research that tells us Indigenous youth are stronger and healthier and more able to carve out successful futures when they are connected to their history, culture and community. A small workshop size of 6-10 attendees, promotes effective peer-to-peer learning, facilitating personalized attention, active engagement, and collaborative learning. It will foster open discussions, relationship building, timely feedback, and encourages participants to interact and learn from each other.

Building on, and scaling up from the pilot, the project team will co-construct a foundational curriculum to more effectively underpin a train-the-trainer strategy. These materials will form a package which program participants will be able to apply towards sharing their learning with other northern or home communities. As well, the involvement of emerging Indigenous youth, artists and cultural entrepreneurs will be integral to this process, as they will play an active role in capturing the learning process through video documentation, short interviews and leveraging social media platforms to communicate and showcase achieved outcomes.

For the winter 2024 season, the team will co-design and co-deliver an expanded, refined food preservation workshop during Canada’s third National Kindness Week, which will be celebrated from Sunday, February 11, 2024, to Sunday, February 18.

Anticipated Impacts and Outcomes

This project project aims for impacts across key agriculture and agri-food sectors, particularly local food production, food processing, value-added production and new product creation. It works to build relationships with harvesters, food processors, producers, and distributors for sectoral inclusion, while exploring ways to streamline getting those products into the community. Cross-cultural and traditional knowledge exchange, similar to a ‘train the trainer’ approach is intended to support advancing economic reconciliation through food-sector skills development, entrepreneurial capacity building, early career exposure and opportunities for growth within these sectors.

Enhancing Skills for Northern and Traditional Food Systems

The project supports preserving and revitalizing traditional food systems through training in canning, preservation, and transferable skills development. This outcome empowers participants with knowledge and techniques to preserve cultural heritage, traditional practices, support self-determination and food sector employment skills.

Establishing and Sustaining a Supportive Network

Through workshops, community building, and group interaction with peers and mentors, the project will create a supportive network extending beyond the program. This outcome nurtures a network able to facilitate ongoing relationship building, collaboration, and knowledge exchange, contributing to the sustainability and replicability of the program. This network will support future training and collaborations.

Empowering Indigenous Food Sector Entrepreneurship

Providing internships and mentorship to emerging food sector entrepreneurs, the project will equip learners with essential skills for agri-food, food production, and related fields. This outcome contributes to early-career exposure, fostering economic reconciliation, and fostering long-term and self-reliant individual and community well-being.


This Winnipeg-based project prioritizes the inclusion and empowerment of northern and newly-urban youth, Elders, women and interested community members through targeted training, mentorship, traditional knowledge exchange and access to resources. 

As well, elements of this program were piloted and tested over three years, supported by the US National Science Foundation, the ArcticNet Network Centre of Excellence, Canada Council for the Arts Digital Greenhouse, Chocolatier Constance Popp, and Manitoba Arts Council Indigenous 360 Program. We acknowledge support from the Arctic Buying Company Winnipeg, Minneapolis College of Art and Design Arts Entrepreneurship Program, and Labovitz School of Business and Economics, University of Minnesota Duluth. 

With a strong focus on inclusive, intergenerational, co-designed and co-created partnerships fusing traditional knowledge and modern approaches, these approaches aim to foster economic reconciliation while reinforcing social connectedness, community cohesion and resilience.