Living lab will see First Nations and farmers collaborate

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the creation of nine new living labs across Canada on July 14, including the first Indigenous-led living lab by the Mistawasis Nêhiyawak and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

As farmers and Canadians face the brunt of the impacts of climate change, these new living labs will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the climate resiliency of the nation’s food systems.

One of the new living labs announced today is the first Indigenous-led hub by the Mistawasis Nêhiyawak and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, the Bridge to Land Water Sky project. This project will see producers and First Nations work towards a common goal of improving the environment while committing to the protection of Indigenous values, treaties, communities, lands and resources.

With an investment of $54 million under the Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) – Living Labs program, this first wave of new collaborative projects will take root in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Each living lab will focus on identifying innovative technologies and on-farm management practices that can be adopted by farmers nationwide to tackle climate change. The solutions developed will also help protect biodiversity on farms, improve water and soil quality, and, through the efficient management of resources, strengthen farmers’ bottom lines.

“For generations, Canadian farmers and researchers have been finding new ways to protect natural resources while making production practices more efficient,” said Bibeau. “By working together, they are creating innovative research-based solutions that can be applied to real-world challenges on the farm. Our efforts are accelerating the sector’s ability to respond to climate change, all while working to ensure global food security.”

Building on the success of the previous Living Laboratories Initiative introduced in 2018, this next generation of living labs uses the same collaborative approach to agricultural innovation. They bring together farmers, scientists and other stakeholders to co-develop, test and monitor new practices and technologies in a real-life context, breaking down barriers between research and practice on the farm.

The aim is to have at least one living lab in each province, and details on the next set of projects will be announced in the coming months.

The nine new living labs announced follow in the footsteps of the original Living Laboratories Initiative, the previous network of living labs introduced in PEI, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario between 2019 and 2021. These living labs focused on overall environmental issues and have since received international acclaim and served as a model for other countries around the world.

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