Agriculture: An Economic Development Opportunity for Indigenous Communities

Presenting Organization: BC Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture and Agri-foods Canada (AAFC)


Agriculture development poses a key opportunity for indigenous communities to support the goals of self-sufficiency and economic development. Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year federal-provincial-territorial funding agreement, there are programs and support aimed at generating economic growth in the agriculture sector.

This workshop will provide background information on agriculture funding programs that indigenous businesses and communities can access across the various stages of business development. Participants will also hear from a panel of First Nations peers who are working on agriculture development projects to better understand best practices, tips and tricks on what to do and avoid, and lessons learned on how to be successful. The format will include a few short presentations followed by a panel discussion and question period.

What Participants will learn

  • An overview of the agriculture sector in BC
  • Details on program funding and eligibility
  • Examples of indigenous success stories in agriculture and agri-foods economic development
  • Best practices from other First Nations communities developing agriculture projects


  • Erica Nitchie, Indigenous Business Agrologist, BC Ministry of Agriculture
  • Natalie Janssens, Senior Industry Development Officer, Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada
  • Lindsay Bisschop, Manager of Partnerships & Outreach, BC Ministry of Agriculture First Nations Community representatives (TBD)

Presenter Biographies

Erica Nitchie works for the BC Ministry of Agriculture as an Indigenous Business Agrologist. She has had the privilege of working directly with many Nations throughout the province on various agriculture-related projects over the past 11 years. Erica earned a Bachelor of Natural Resource Science from Thompson Rivers University and has spent her professional career working in first forestry and then agriculture. Erica, her partner and two young boys recently returned to live in the north Okanagan after time spent in the Thompson and Cariboo regions.

Natalie Janssens is a Senior Industry Development Officer at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Northwestern Departmental Regional Office. Natalie and her regional colleagues support farmers and food processors in B.C. by connecting them to programs and services aimed at accelerating their economic growth and by helping them explore international market opportunities. Natalie grew up on a dairy farm in Surrey, B.C. and has worked as a policy analyst and economist at Service Canada in Vancouver and the Canadian Dairy Commission in Ottawa.

Lindsay Bisschop is the Manager of Partnerships and Outreach with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and manages agriculture programs and services for youth, new entrants and First Nations as well as support business planning and skill development. She has over ten years of professional background is in economic development, strategic planning, human resources management, labour and trade policy.