The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

Access to locally sourced food is a key element of resilience. Recently the National Farmers Union has flagged yet another attempt by the government of Canada to hand over control of food sources to global agribusiness corporations. The NFU has a Fact Sheet and a petition to Parliament on their website. Here is the text of the petition:

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, recognize that the agreement known as CETA between Canada and the European Commission will impact on all aspects of our lives. This proposed agreement will jeopardize the ability of governments at all levels to procure goods and services that favour in any way local businesses thereby, for example, destroying arrangements that specifically source local food. Further this agreement is calling for the inclusion of UPOV91 a draconian form of Plant Breeders Rights legislation that will effectively eliminate a farmer’s or citizen’s ability to save, reuse, exchange and sell seed.

This agreement is also calling for the inclusion of enforcement procedures to uphold intellectual property rights that would allow for the judicial precautionary seizure of movable and immovable property, and the freezing of bank accounts of the alleged infringer. A farmer could see his/her home, land, equipment, and crops seized and have bank accounts frozen for being accused of using seed (including their own) that has a gene patent or other form of intellectual property attached to it. We also recognize that this agreement is likely to have very negative impacts on our Canadian supply management systems for dairy, poultry and egg farmers as well as the Canadian Wheat Board.

Therefore, your petitioners call on Parliament to refrain from entering into any arrangement that would restrict or prohibit governments from favouring local goods, services and local food. Further we call on Parliament to reject any agreement such as THE COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC AND TRADE AGREEMENT that would contain UPOV91 and any other restriction on farmers and citizens’ ability to save, reuse, select, exchange and sell seeds. We further call for the outright rejection of any provisions which would allow for the judicial precautionary seizure of crops, homes, land, equipment, and the freezing of bank accounts for alleged infringement of intellectual property. We call on Parliament to fully disclose the content of this agreement, including the text, throughout the entire negotiating process to the citizens of Canada.

NAME (printed)
ADDRESS (printed)

Please fill out and return to the National Farmers Union, 2717 Wentz Ave., Saskatoon, Sask. S7K 4B6 or fax to the NFU at (306) 664-6226.

For more information, contact the NFU office at (306) 652-9465 or by email at or go to

This does need to be checked out because some aspects of it are confusing. For instance: the NFU recognizes CETA as a threat to farmers because their assets could be seized if they are accused of violating ‘intellectual property rights’ (for instance by saving seeds); but these rights are claimed by corporations who own patents to genetically modified organisms. Yet the NFU Fact Sheet says that the ‘CETA agreement does not apply to Genetically Modified Organisms’ (because of an Appendix inserted by the EU). This may need some explaining.

Democracy vs. capitalism, local vs. factory food

Michael Moore’s latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story, has just been released on DVD, and thanks to Maja Mielonen, we now have a copy on the Island. Maja will be showing it as one of our ‘movies that matter’ nights (and to celebrate the equinox) on Sunday, March 21. Moore’s ironic style has never been stronger, or deeper, presenting the whole sweep of American history as a struggle between capitalism and democracy – and showing how democracy can still win, despite the hijacking of the federal government by Wall Street.

Though Moore’s film is American to the core, the struggle between capitalism and democracy (or people vs. corporations) is a global one. A recent victory for democracy is covered by the excellent Yes! Magazine website in Iceland Busts the Banksters.

Yes! Magazine online is an excellent resource for resilience, and you can subscribe there (also for free) to a weekly highlights email. The current print version of Yes! also features an interview with Elinor Ostrom, a summer visitor to Manitoulin, who recently won the Nobel Prize in economics for her lifelong work on cooperation and common property.

farmersalatin_resizedAnother new DVD resource has been acquired by Chuc and Linda Willson, who are among the most active promoters of local food on Manitoulin: Food Inc. is a devastating exposé of the corporate food industry in the U.S., with a particular focus on meat production, including health issues and unfair labor practices, on Monsanto and its domination of soybean production, and on political issues in the U.S. such as labeling of GMO products. It also shows the viable (and more resilient) alternatives of organic, free-range and local food production. One of the film’s most articulate spokesmen for alternative farming is Joel Salatin, pictured here. Local and organic food advocate Michael Pollan is also featured, as he is in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, one of the extra features on the new Michael Moore DVD. Food well researched and powerfully delivered. Despite its focus on the U.S., the tight integration of North American food systems means that it’s relevant to Canada as well. It’s a welcome addition to earlier films on food issues, King Corn and The Future of Food (which are included in the Honora Bay Resource Library).

Manitoulin singing and baking! Feb. 5 and 6

Cider and Song
Friday, February 5 at 7:30 at the United Church in Gore Bay

Tickets at the door, $10 each or $20 family. Come and enjoy an evening of song with complimentary cider and cookies at intermission. Songs include some old time favourites like Blue Skies and My Favourite Things as well as some celtic folk songs, original songs by Director Jane Best and a Stephen Foster medley.

Baking with whole-grain flours
Saturday February 6, 9am–2pm at Café in the Woods, Honora Bay

This will be an informative and tasty learning experience, offering new ideas and some hands-on experience of baking breads using whole flours. Many people have asked about adjusting recipes using the LoonSong flour (which includes the bran and germ and has slightly different baking characteristics than commercial flours). Others have said: “I don’t bake!” Well, this is an opportunity to learn and try, and get encouragement and inspiration!!

We will have the pleasure of working with Ilsa Giselman and Maja Mielonen, two of Manitoulin’s best-loved bakers. We will go through three to four different recipes, using different flours: wheat, rye, white, and also using added seeds and goodies. We will observe and listen, and also get a try at mixing and kneading, feeling the consistencies and textures of different doughs. The various recipes will include traditional techniques of kneading, as well as alternative methods, such as using a bread-maker, and electric mixer.

While the breads rise, Paul Salanki will speak about growing organic grains here on Manitoulin, the various steps in processing and milling the flour and the nutrition of different grains and flours – there will be lots of opportunity for questions and sharing of recipes and ideas.

We will have a potluck lunch, and taste all the breads that we make that day. Breads and flours will also be available for sale. Everyone will take home some recipes, along with inspirations for winter baking and eating!!

Fee for the workshop is $20. Register with us at LoonSong at Pre-registration recommended, space is limited.

Resilience is Connection

sunflowerTrying to create a more resilient way of life is not easy. We are sure to make mistakes, and we are likely to get discouraged unless we can draw upon a deep source of spiritual energy – a ‘soul-force’ or ‘fierce light’ that comes from within. Recently a small group of us shared a viewing of Fierce Light, which i wrote about in a previous posting here on the blog, and afterwards we talked about the deep sense of connection which the film explores in relation to social activism. The following is one person’s reflections coming out of that conversation.

Resilient Manitoulin is a growing network of Manitoulin Island residents which came together because some of us shared a sense of living on a planet in crisis. The more we looked into ecological, economic and energy trends, the more we realized that human survival depends on changing our deeply self-destructive habits and unsustainable systems. For example, the North American food system on which we’ve become dependent is already stretched close to collapse. The same goes for global economic system, although the major powers who profit from it are scrambling to assure us that the ‘meltdown’ of 2008 was just a temporary setback, a ‘recession’ …

Anyway, we set to work trying to develop our own local systems that would enable us to survive major breakdowns in the old systems. But the hope that holds us together is much more positive than that. We do want to survive the possible collapse of the power grid or the food-distribution system, but more important, we want to live better lives than dependence on the old systems allows. Again, food is a good example: we prefer local food because it’s healthier, it makes more ecological sense, we know the producers personally, and it tastes better than the industrial agribusiness product.

In short, our purpose is not merely reacting to the crisis we see coming at us, but actively creating a better way of life, one that is more connected to the real sources of life. That purpose in turn connects us immediately with everyone who shares it, on Manitoulin and elsewhere on this island Earth. We try to support each other even though we don’t all share the same skills, beliefs, practices or priorities. We all affirm, in our various ways, our deep connection with everything – even with those engaged in tearing apart those connections, the warmakers and wasters of the earth. We can’t improve our situation by making somebody else’s worse. Our common enemy is addiction to destructive practices – a habit we humans have to kick together, by healing our sense of connection.

We knew from the start that our little network would have to grow, because everybody who lives on Manitoulin is in the same boat. This blog is just one way of letting other Islanders know that we’re here for the sake of connecting us all with the place where we live, and not for political power or profit or any such petty purpose. We’re here to put our hearts and heads together, and get our hands dirty with good clean Manitoulin dirt.

That’s how i see it, anyway. I’d love to hear from others.

Mnissing: The Culture of Foods

Saturday, October 17 at the Aundeck Omni Kaning Community Centre: This day offers two opportunities to learn and share in cross cultural discoveries about Manitoulin’s culinary richness integrating wild traditional foods and farm and garden delicacies.

Workshop/Demonstration from 2–4 p.m. will teach about gathering and preparing wild foods found in the summer and fall on Manitoulin and will also include a cooking demonstration with autumn harvested garden-grown foods, cooked in a fusion style integrating native and European flavors.

Fall Feast at 5 p.m. is a buffet-style dinner with several traditional native dishes made from wild-gathered plants, fish, and meats and several dishes prepared with Manitoulin’s garden vegetables. After dinner activities will include a presentation by the M’Chigeeng daycare children on Ojibway language and foods as well as traditional humorous songs about foods. Families with children are encouraged to attend the feast. Booths and displays will be open throughout the afternoon and evening.

There is no required fee for the workshops or dinner, everyone is welcome! Donations gladly accepted, to go toward future similar educational endeavors. Reservations for either workshop or dinner are recommended (to assist with the planning process) but not required. Contact LoonSong at 368-0460, or Tammy Albers at Noojmowin Teg, 368-2182.

The project is coordinated by Noojmowin-Teg Health Centre, and supported by the Manitoulin Community Food Network, Ontario AgriFood & Education, LAMBAC and FedNor. In addition to these public events in the fall, and events to come in the spring, the project will include teaching in both Manitoulin high schools about nutrition, gardening, and collecting and preparing wild foods.