Little Black Bear First Nation invests in main aquaponics facility

The plans embrace an aquaculture element to supply recent Steelhead (rainbow trout) in addition to a hydroponics aspect that can produce all kinds of greens and herbs

Nestled within the rolling File Hills of southern Saskatchewan, the Cree and Assiniboine Little Black Bear First Nation of 660 members and 227 residents has made financial improvement a prime precedence in recent times. The neighborhood is about halfway by means of the event stage of an aquaponics facility that can mix each an aquaculture and a hydroponics operation below one roof. Building of the ability on reserve land is predicted to start this summer time.

The undertaking started with an concept and blossomed right into a undertaking early in 2021. Part one of many undertaking was the event of a marketing strategy which confirmed that the undertaking was possible and that an aquaponics facility might be economically viable. The marketing strategy decided that the aquaculture element of the ability might produce as much as 125 metric tonnes of recent Steelhead (rainbow trout) yearly and that the hydroponics aspect would produce all kinds of greens and herbs reminiscent of lettuce, spinach, peppers, mint, sage and basil. Tomatoes and sure medicinal crops reminiscent of yarrow and sweetgrass will even be grown.

Little Black Bear First Nation invests in main aquaponics facility

Little Black Bear First Nation at present farms 800 acres of varied grains for which it obtained its natural certification in 2021. The neighborhood is planning to increase its agricultural manufacturing yearly to incorporate greens, medicinal crops and experiment with rising ceremonial tobacco. The aquaponics facility might be an incredible match to the natural farm offering seedlings yearly for the increasing vegetable, medicinal plant and tobacco operations.

The neighborhood’s Financial Growth Tasks Supervisor Shane Bellegarde, one of many founders of the undertaking, says the brand new facility is an enormous step ahead for his neighborhood. ”The aquaponics undertaking will deliver job creation, further income and meals safety to our neighborhood. These are a very powerful advantages. However it should additionally turn into a key element to our increasing natural farming operations. And that might be an incredible increase to our enterprise.”

Part two of the undertaking obtained underway within the Spring of 2022 with vital preliminary steps. The willpower of the location on which the ability can be constructed was first in line. This was adopted by the drilling of a effectively to make sure that the chosen web site had sufficient water to satisfy the ability’s necessities of 40 gallons per minute. A geotechnical survey was carried out to make sure that floor situations of the location have been appropriate to help the infrastructure.


The following step was to start capability constructing and the coaching of future staff. Ten neighborhood members are actually enrolled in an internet coaching program with Lethbridge Faculty. This course provides preliminary, introductory programs geared toward familiarizing trainees with aquaculture and hydroponics operations. This may present a base of information that can put together the trainees for the extra detailed and sensible onsite coaching that can happen as soon as the ability is constructed.

The final pre-construction duties that have to be achieved are the preparation of roads to the ability and the levelling of the location. It’s a one-acre web site on which can sit the ability of over 40,000 sq. ft.

Positioned side-by-side inside the ability, the aquaculture and hydroponics sections will every occupy about 45 p.c of the ground house of the temperature-controlled greenhouse construction. Important refrigerated meals storage areas, harvesting, processing and packaging rooms, washrooms and electrical/mechanical areas are additionally included within the deliberate drawings. The enterprise might be Band-owned and operated below the jurisdiction and authority of the neighborhood’s Chief and Council.

The RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) space could have three lengthy bays for fish manufacturing.

Because the identify suggests, water for the fish manufacturing is regularly recirculated by means of a system of bodily and organic filters which clear the water earlier than it’s oxygenated and despatched again to the aquaculture tanks. Utilizing a RAS system permits for higher management of the fish rearing atmosphere whereas lowering water consumption from the effectively. Sustaining water high quality is essential in RAS and the ability will use a mix of real-time sensors for oxygen and pH monitoring whereas different water high quality parameters might be monitored each day by skilled aquaculture technicians. This fixed system monitoring is essential to sustaining wholesome fish. To that finish many further alarms might be constructed into the system to make sure workers are notified instantly if any system parameter is out of spec.

Rainbow trout take roughly 16 months to achieve the focused weight. Whereas the neighborhood plans to distribute a portion of the trout to neighborhood members for meals safety, it’s engaged on a plan to course of trout on web site by including a fileting capability for business sale. Mr. Bellegarde is assured about the way forward for business operations: “There’s a sturdy marketplace for rainbow trout that we are going to faucet into and by doing so, we are going to create further processing jobs for our youth.”

Merchandise grown within the hydroponics part will even serve to reinforce the neighborhood’s meals safety and might be built-in to the business operations of the neighborhood’s natural farm. The ground house might be divided into sections for every vegetable, herb and medicinal plant grown within the facility. There will even be a bit for experimentation.


The power is predicted to be operational by mid-2024. There might be a studying curve and coaching interval previous to the start of operations. “Simply serious about opening day raises passions and creates nice pleasure. The anticipation generated by the undertaking resonates all through the neighborhood,” added Mr. Bellegarde. “Nonetheless, we now have a number of work to do earlier than we attain that aim and we’re greater than up for the problem.” As soon as it’s up and operating, steps might be taken to have the ability licensed as natural as quickly as potential.

The undertaking is forecast to create as much as 8 full-time jobs for these managing the ability and overseeing the ability’s manufacturing course of. The fileting operation will add extra jobs. Group members will even profit from part-time employment alternatives at harvest time. Mr. Bellegarde concludes by highlighting a significant facet of the undertaking: “Our neighborhood members are our most dear useful resource. This undertaking will present long-term employment for our folks and coaching alternatives for the youth of our neighborhood that can put together them to turn into future enterprise leaders and make sure the long-term sustainability of the enterprise.”

Little Black Bear First Nation is happy with this undertaking and want to acknowledge the professionalism of Waubetek Enterprise Growth Company for his or her invaluable help.

In addition they wish to categorical their appreciation to the Northern Built-in Industrial Fisheries Initiative (NICFI) program on the Division of Fisheries and Oceans Canada for his or her help. But it surely’s the management and willpower of neighborhood leaders which might be driving this nice undertaking ahead towards the extremely anticipated ribbon-cutting in 2024. From then on, the advantages of nice jobs, greater revenues for the neighborhood and meals safety now, and for generations to return will not be a dream.

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