Aboriginal Partnerships

By working in partnership, we are able to achieve greater inroads towards our long-term goal of community food security than if we were working in isolation. Healthy food is not only a human right for all people, it is equally important is to have access to healthier options at a reasonable cost.


Aboriginal Engagement Program

CHEP’s Aboriginal Engagement Program has built trusting, mutual relationships with Aboriginal organizations in Saskatoon over the years. We work together on food insecurity initiatives as much as we do on food security.

Research shows that low socioeconomic status is the major contributor to the trends of rising rates of health issues in the Aboriginal population. Because of this, CHEP continues to partner with other groups to raise awareness about the serious effects of poverty as an indicator of poor health and work towards the improvements of accessing healthier options.

In 2015/16 CHEP Good Food obtained a grant from the Urban Partnership Project through the Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan. This project helped make it possible to strengthen health promotion and aim to address barriers around food insecurity. The project is a combination of innovative and early intervention initiatives designed to promote better nutrition and health, while fostering student success by:

  • Promotion and establishment of fresh food markets in educational institutions
  • Creating more opportunities for Collective Kitchen and Good Food Boxes in educational settings (university/schools) and in the community
  • Learning more about Aboriginal food systems by connecting with Elders and Knowledge Keepers to develop initiatives for future programming.



Several years ago, CHEP started promoting the possibility of having a fresh food market at the Aboriginal Student Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. We wanted to provide easy, onsite access to good food for students and their families that they could purchase at cost. This enables the students to maximize their health potential by accessing good food.

We are now providing more markets at the University. We partnered with the University Saskatchewan Student Union (USSU), with them having a fresh food market in Place Riel each week. This location is perfect for students who are waiting to catch their bus and can get fresh produce at a low cost.

We have also partnered with Health Sciences and they now have a monthly market in their building.

This makes three fresh food markets for students at University of Saskatchewan. The institutions intend to support these programs by providing space to host them and some infrastructure for refrigeration. Once established, these markets are self-sustaining, so there is very little risk of ending the project once it starts.

We were approached by the Aboriginal Resource Centre (ARC) at Saskatchewan Polytechnic about hungry students and the possibility of us working together to support their Friday soup day. Staff was seeing the number of hungry students going up dramatically. CHEP ran a survey asking students why this was happening. We found out that for 90% of the students surveyed, 85% of their money was going to rent, leaving only 15% for food for them and their families.

CHEP was able to assist a little by providing cases of apples as a start, and the bowls would be empty within a few days. Soon after, we piloted a six-week fresh food market that would alternate between main campus and Basic Education building. The markets were so popular that they sold out in two hours. The six-week pilot was a success and it continued for the rest of the semester. We have now scheduled a full year of Fresh Food Markets every two weeks.

The increase of access to fresh, nutritious food for greater food security is critical to staying healthy and contributing to economic inclusion and participation of students. Through skills development in the Collective Kitchen Program and the Elders’ teachings on traditional food systems, young people will be able to engage with one another while learning valuable life skills like cooking nutritious foods. Eating poor-grade food with limited nutritional value is a major barrier to staying healthy, maintaining studies, and participating in the workforce. The Fresh Food Markets are an innovative and practical way of ensuring quick access to affordable foods.

Other accomplishments in this area include the fact that all of CHEP’s program staff is working with Aboriginal organizations, often through connections made independently of our partnership director. Senior staff with the Flying Dust First Nation’s on-reserve market garden have kept us in the loop on the progress of their plans and we purchase produce from them for our Good Food Box Program.

We are also seeing the fruit of several years’ work of building connections with the Saskatoon Tribal Council, with the development of Fresh Food Markets on Treaty Days and other community events in all six of their communities. Other initiatives include the collective kitchen, community gardens, and Good Food Box orders at two of their urban offices for their staff and clients.

The ability to participate fully in the economy relies on good health. Optimal health is intimately linked to upstream factors like good nutrition and food security. CHEP works collaboratively with partnerships in the community including educational institutions and Aboriginal organizations including Saskatoon Indian Métis Friendship Centre (SIMFC) and Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. (CUMFI) to ensure coordinated responses to food security.

These partnerships help achieve our goal of improving access to healthy food.

For more information about CHEP's Aboriginal Partnerships, please contact Colleen Hamilton, our Aboriginal Partnerships Coordinator through email or by calling 306.655.4575 ext 234 or 306.491-0484 (cell).