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Sagkeeng youth building solar-powered greenhouse to inspire sustainability

A group of youth in Sagkeeng First Nation are building a greenhouse. (Source: Sara Fontaine) A group of youth in Sagkeeng First Nation are building a greenhouse. (Source: Sara Fontaine)
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A group of youths in Sagkeeng First Nation is hoping to inspire the community to live more sustainably through the creation of a solar-powered greenhouse.

The greenhouse, which is currently under construction at the Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School, will offer learning opportunities, work experience and nutritious food to the youth in the community. It is also the first solar-powered building in the community.

The group expects the greenhouse to be up and running by mid-July after more than a year of work and planning.

“I’ve never worked on a project like this, but it’s been amazing so far just because [Indigenous Clean Energy] is so supportive and they’ve supported us through everything,” said project manager Tikkan Morrisseau.

“We just had to make sure we were staying on task for our project.”

The project came to be after members of the Sagkeeng youth group expressed interest in a community garden. However, after two failed attempts at gardens, they decided on the Sagkeeng youth greenhouse, which is being funded through Indigenous Clean Energy’s ImaGENation program.

According to Sara Fontaine, who is also a project manager, they knew they wanted this to be a community-led initiative, so they’ve partnered with a number of community organizations. Those involved in the project are even getting paid through Sagkeeng Employment and Training Services.

“It can’t be a straight volunteer thing, because people value their time and they deserve to be paid for things like this,” Morrisseau said.

As the end of construction on the greenhouse gets closer, the community is getting more and more excited, especially those at the high school.

The students at the school are the ones who got to choose what produce will be grown in the greenhouse, and the staff are coming up with ideas of what can be done in the future.

“We’ve been talking about different things we can do like canning, planting berries around the community,” Fontaine said, adding that she’s thankful for the students’ help.

“We’re hoping this influences more and more people to grow crops in their yards and smaller scale initiatives to one day see a farmer’s market happening in our community again. That’s the goal here.”

Fontaine said the project is about giving people nutritious food options, and helping with food insecurity. She also wants to encourage people to get involved with their communities on a grassroots level, and hopes to help more businesses secure solar and geothermal energy sources.

Morrisseau added the project is about getting people to connect.

“We also wanted to bring our community together to reconnect with each other. That was a big part of this too,” she said.

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