Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation explores food security options

By Bryan Eneas
September 10, 2018 - 2:13pm

The Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation is looking to address food security by giving residents hens.

Alanna Remmen, a community dietician and a certified diabetes educator with the Willow Cree Health Centre said she got the idea from a few different places.

“I had seen the Cross Lake Chicken Club report, which, they had done in Manitoba, they had done something very similar which I thought was very interesting,” Remmen said. “I also attended a bit of a food security conference and they had covered the basics of taking care of chickens and the two of them together made me aspire to submitting a proposal.”

Remmen noted people in the Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation have until Sept. 24 to apply to participate in the program. A committee will review the applications; Remmen said the successful applicants will be people who are willing to share the education with youths and fellow community members.

She cited the old saying, ‘If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life,’ is a big driver behind the idea to provide chickens to community members.

She said the goal is to establish between six to 10 chicken coops in the community so people can harvest eggs, or eventually meat from the birds. The community is looking at dual purpose chickens, which can be harvested at the end of the laying season, if they so choose.

Those who are successful applicants will receive training from a poultry consultant about how to care for the hens and maintain the coop and butchering techniques.

“Chickens are an excellent source of high quality protein, and eggs are a complete protein, meaning that they have all the amino acid necessary for life,” Remmen said. “It’s a good source of cheap protein.”

So far, the idea has generated a lot of interest from the community according to Remmen. A community forum was hosted to collect feedback from residents, with the biggest concerns revolving around potential smells coming from the chicken coops. Noise concerns were quashed as the coops will not be home to roosters, who make more of a ruckus than the hens which will occupy them.

It is still yet to be seen if the chicken program will become an on-going initiative or a one-off. Remmen said she will be reviewing the program in December of next year to decide if the Willow Cree Health Centre will try to apply for more funding to keep the program going.


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