Thebacha Boreal Berry Patch Collective

In Thebacha, Northwest Territories, berry harvesting isn't just a food gathering activity; it's an essential cultural tradition that has faced challenges due to climate change. To address this, the community has initiated the Boreal Berry Patch Collective, which sees nine groups—including the Fort Smith Métis Council, Salt River First Nation, Smith’s Landing First Nation, local schools, the health and social services authority, and more—collaborating to strengthen local food security and reconnect with traditional practices. Each partner contributes by planting berry bushes, integrating traditional knowledge into programs, and engaging in community-building activities.

The Boreal Berry Patch Collective is committed to developing a sustainable model where local foods are actively celebrated through workshops, community feasts, and hands-on land activities. They focus on cultivating cold-hardy berries like Saskatoon berries, raspberries, haskaps, and are exploring other varieties such as blueberries and gooseberries. This effort draws on Indigenous wisdom, local agricultural know-how, and entrepreneurial insights to promote self-reliance and resilience, particularly underscored during events like the 2023 wildfires that cut off food supplies.

This collective not only aims to enhance food sovereignty but also to fortify community connections, promoting engagement with the land and one another. It represents a proactive response to environmental shifts and paves the way for a regenerative local economy.