Final Phase of International Indigenous Exchange and Health Care Initiative Gets Green Light

Partners in the Manitoba Model Forest (MMF) have secured funding for the third phase of an international initiative to support indigenous exchange, health care and development .
 
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) recently confirmed that it would support the third and final phase of the Ojibway-Williche Well-being and Health Care Initiative between the indigenous Black River and Brokenhead Ojibway people of the MMF in Canada, and the Williche people of Chiloé Model Forest in Chile.
 
The 2-year project was initiated when Mr. Manuel Munzol, advisor to the Williche General Chiefs council, traveled to Manitoba in March 2004 in search of the support and tools needed to help his community use their forests in a more sustainable manner.
 

Phase I: Building international partnerships

 
Phase one of the initiative saw two Canadian indigenous representatives travel to Chile in May 2004 to meet with Williche leaders and identify areas of potential partnership. It was during this exploratory mission that both sides realized the cultural and traditional practices of the indigenous people of Chiloé were similar in nature to those of the Anishinabe (Ojibway Peoples). Black River and Brokenhead Ojibway people began to look at how they could develop partnerships with the Williche in traditional knowledge transfer, commerce, trade, economic development, traditional forms of health care, education, social development, and traditional ecological knowledge and conservation.
 
Phase II: Research and education
 
Phase two of the initiative focused on educational research.  Black River sent a staff members to conduct research contrasting the social, educational and economic conditions between the two groups, and identify areas of Williche success related to cultural preservation and promotion that can be adapted and applied to a Canadian indigenous context.
 

Phase III: Blending western and indigenous practices

 
Indigenous peoples have a long history of using plants and non-timber forest products for health care treatment, and a recent blending of western and indigenous health practices has resulted in many positive outcomes for the indigenous people of Chiloé. 
 
The third and final phase of the project, beginning in October 2005, will create a for-profit, small-scale traditional medicinal and foods processing facility. Canadian indigenous experts will train the Williche to gather and process the plant and non-timber forest products in the Chiloé Model Forest area. The communities of Brokenhead and Black River will have the opportunity to become equity owners in this venture and to use the new facility as a test model for deployment within their own communities. The project is expected to be complete in February of 2006.
 
This final phase will also include a  cross-cultural exchange program for indigenous youth, tourism plans, and the development of a strategy for sustainable forest management, among others.  For more information, please contact Don Clarke of the Manitoba Model Forest or Chiloé Model Forest.