Last month, I wrote about the Northern Food Crisis. A few people asked me how come my first article wasn’t more about who we are at First Nation Growers. The answer to that question is easy – when it comes to our business, the “why” and the “who” are inseparable.
First Nations Growers is an organization committed to improving the over all social development and well-being of Indigenous Peoples by improving daily, year round, healthy diets and providing continual access to affordable, fresh foods in every Indigenous community possible.
Improving the lives of our sisters and brothers, especially those in remote communities, isn’t just a corporate slogan – its our core fundamental value. For far too long, government studies, Royal Commissions, and ineffective programs have come and gone while the suffering of Indigenous People escalated to crisis levels. It became impossible for us to sit on the sidelines while men, women, and children continued to go hungry.
The passion that motivated me to found First Nation Growers runs in my blood. The Tabobondung family’s long history of leadership and dedication to our community has been shared with me since I was a young girl.
My Grandmother, Flora “Zhashkwogiizhigokwe“ Tabobondung, spent her life fighting to preserve our legacy and enhance Indigenous rights. During the Constitutional debates of the early 1980’s, she was a key advocate in having our voices represented in the discussions, and was one of the Chiefs chosen to go to England in 1982 for the official repatriation. Our Blue Sky Lady lived by the native traditions and they guided the decisions that she made in her life. On a local level, she was the Wasauksing First Nation Chief for more than a quarter of a century. Flora was named to the prestigious Order of Canada for her leadership among First Nations people. She passed away in 2006.
My mother, Joyce, inherited Grandmother’s sense of duty. Growing up, she saw that her mother’s life was dedicated to Indigenous culture. Joyce followed Flora’s path towards leadership roles, holding the position of Chief for many years and becoming a well respected Indigenous Elder including serving as Grand Chief the Huron-Robinson Treaty Area, Joyce founded the Parry Sound Native Friendship Centre and currently sits as its President.
Joyce understands the needs and wants of the Anishinabek peoples. She has a keen ear for community concerns, including the important nutritional well-being of First Nations and Inuit communities throughout all of Canada. She has been an inspiration to her children throughout her life. My brother, Warren, has followed her footsteps to become our current Chief, and I have been inspired by her passion to help Indigenous communities near and far.
As you can imagine, the inspiration of two such incredible women empowered me with a strong passion for helping others, especially fellow First Nation Members. It has been my life mission to provide support and assistance where I can, when I can.
Our family legacy continues to grow. I’m the proud mother of three bright children, all community-minded members of Wasauksing First Nation. My two oldest currently attend University – one in Ottawa, another in Halifax – while my youngest is preparing to finish high school this year before attending University herself.
Over the years, I’ve held many First Nation management positions including Economic Development Officer, Office Administrator, Office Manager, First Nations Marina Manager, Administrator and a registered Commissionaire recognized by the Department of Indigenous Affairs, representing the Wasauksing Lands Development Corporation.
We envision a future that sees First Nations & Inuit communities growing together while taking care of their own community fresh food needs that includes both quality and costs while improving daily diets and better health.
We founded First Nation Growers because we cannot stand by and wait for the government to solve the Northern Food Crisis. We are ready to empower our sisters and brothers with a solution.
Food access is a human right and essential to the health of our people. The time for reports, studies, and consultations is over. The time for results is now.
Dawn Tabobondung is a proud member of Wasauksing First Nation and the Chief Executive Officer of First Nation Growers. First Nations Growers builds indoor “Community Garden Market Farms” that provide Indigenous & Inuit communities with a financially viable, year round opportunity to grow their own nutritionally rich fresh produce and foods. Be sure to follow First Nation Growers on Facebook.
“Indigenous indoor fresh foods farming today for a healthy tomorrow”