A field of dreams : the story of the Manitoba Indian Agricultural Program
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Historical Developments in First Nations agriculture provide an essential element for understanding the current state of the industry in the First Nations across Canada. Equally important is a comprehensive understanding of specific policies and programs undertaken by governments to assist First Nation farmers. One of those endeavors, the now defunct Manitoba Indian Agricultural Program (MIAP), is the subject of this dissertation. This study is concerned with chronicling the fate of MIAP in order to ascertain the difficulties and accomplishments encountered by MIAP, as well as analyzing the problems and prospects of First Nations agriculture in general. An historical background of First Nations Agriculture in Manitoba, as well as a brief history of MIAP, are undertaken in order to situate the program within Canadian Indian policy. The implications of the demise of MIAP are discussed, as is the contemporary situation of First Nation agriculture post-MIAP. Further insights and implications of the demise of MIAP are discussed in order to outline the present strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for First Nation agriculture. Recommendations on government policies are also discussed in order to highlight possible future First Nation economic development initiatives. Findings suggest that MIAP's problems mostly originated from a failed government policy, which included a lack of commitment for adequate funding, long term programming, and farmer education and advisory services as well as a lack of accountability and sufficient checks and balances within MIAP's Board of Directors. MIAP's other problems originated from a lack of commitment from First Nations governments and organizations, particularly in the support of First Nations agriculture and the settlement of land tenure issues. MIAP did have a number of successes as well. Chief among those successes is the high level of achievement made by First Nations farmers during the MIAP period when compared to the situation that exists today. There were more farmers producing more produce from more land and receiving more income from farming than at present. MIAP farmers also were able to spread the awareness of the potential for farming to other prospective farmers, and in so doing, they acted as role models for the entire agricultural industry on First Nation communities. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the MIAP experience can be used to develop a blueprint for any future agricultural policies in First Nations communities...