The Manitoba Delegation, recently in Israel on a ten-day visit as guests of KKL-JNF included representatives from three local bodies to promote the Misipawistik Cree community, who have merged within the framework of the Tribes of the First Nations. This is a rare and unique cooperation initiated by KKL-JNF Canada and KKL-JNF research directors.
The objective of the initiative is to make available information and technology that has been developed and applied in Israel and in KKL-JNF, about cultivation of hothouse crops, to aid the Tribes of the First nations. KKL-JNF provides them with knowledge, guidance, and technology that will enable members of the tribe to cultivate hothouse crops to earn an independent living, to end the cycle of unemployment and improve their nutrition and dietary conditions.
The visit of the delegation to Israel will promote cooperation; expose members of the delegation to technology developed in Israel and enable meetings with the developers. The opportunity to meet agricultural experts, to ask practical questions pertaining to the application of the project in Manitoba, and to view the implementation of technology, has created much enthusiasm and community spirit among members of the delegation.
This was the Tribes' first encounter with the State of Israel, its national sites and historic places, as delegates toured hothouses for flower cultivation at Moshav HaYogev where the technology for the project is being implemented. There was much focus on the issue of water management and members of the delegation were invited to meet professors, professionals and experts in water management in Israel.
The Misipawistik Cree Nation numbers approximately 270,000 people who are scattered throughout Canada. The community that resides in the reservation near Manitoba numbers 900 and like many members of the First Nations in Canada suffers from unemployment, low levels of education and inadequate nutrition. Some members of the community work as fishermen and have difficulty making a living and supporting their families. Their modern Western diet causes the development of chronic diseases and the limited availability of fresh produce adds to problems of improper nutrition. .
The president of KKL-JNF Manitoba and his wife, Graham and Faye Dixon stated. "When we come to Israel and see the contribution that KKL-JNF makes towards building the country, we know that we are doing the right thing. We extend a helping hand in the name of the people of Israel to a people who are in need of help, support and tools."
Ovide Mercredi, Chief advocate and head of the Misipawistik Cree Nation, stated. "The opportunity that has been created with the KKL-JNF and the Manitoba government is a wonderful thing. Now, when I see for myself what this young country has done in so little time and without water, I want to be a part of that success. This is what my people need to attain three objectives to continue to exist: economic independence, freedom, and a balanced diet. All these will be possible with the building of hothouses using the Israeli model. It is extremely important that we be in contact with the source of information. I feel that we have direct access to Israel and to the professors who developed the knowledge through the KKL-JNF."
At the research stations and unique KKL-JNF projects in the Arava - and other sites such as Yatir Forest, Mitzpeh Ramon, Park Timna, Ketura, Neot Smadar, the delegates learned about raising fish in the desert, developing agriculture in arid areas, organic farming, regional cooperation on water and loss of soil fertility.
Dr. Avi Gafni, hydrologist and director of KKL-JNF Research said: "I experience a special feeling of mission and pride with the cooperation between the Manitoba government, KKL-JNF, the Technion and leaders in water and hothouse agriculture. Our ability to effect change in the lifestyle of the tribes in Canada broadcasts a message to everyone. There is a unique effort being made here by people who see the future developing around Israeli technology. It is heartwarming."