Students hiking during the early winter season

How you'll make a difference

Gain an intimate perspective on everyday life in the north as we shop from the town’s only grocery store, live under a boil water advisory and experience the unrivalled hospitality of northern communities.

Get your hands dirty in the greenhouse and learn about food security and growing food in the north with the Indigenous youth leaders of Grow North.

Develop your project planning skills by supporting preparations for the annual Grow North Spring Gathering, which shares knowledge and experiences in food, culture and sustainability.

Try country foods that have sustained Cree and Dene peoples in the north and discover the beauty of the boreal forest region.


Community Engagement Training

Get ready for Leaf Rapids: Northern Community Engagement with four days of Community Engagement Training. Get to know your program team, learn about the Leaf Rapids and Cree peoples, and develop your skills in community engagement.

Week 1

Get settled into your new home and community. We'll go on a town tour, explore the urban trails and hike the nearby forests and rock gardens. Meet the community members who will be part of your everyday life, from the school and library to the town hall, grocery store and cafe.

Spend time with local Elder, Keith Anderson, and his family, community youth leaders and other welcoming community members. Count on kids inviting you to floor hockey, joining grannies for a walk around "the Collector" and reading a book or ten from Librarian Joan's amazing collection.

Week 2-3

Volunteer with Grow North, a boreal gardening project that grows vegetables, flowers and fruit in the sandy soil, long days and short season of the north. Learn about different agricultural techniques from Anishinaabe composting practices with fish carcasses to permaculture practices, like hugelkultur.

Play an integral role in the planning and preparations for the Spring Gathering, sharing your skills and experience and also jumping in where needed. You might also discover community project to support with the school or another community group. Past projects have included a community picnic, a fun day at the school, food literacy workshops for students, fermentation and cooking workshops for adults and elders and a storytelling and portraiture project with community Elders.

Week 4

Support the Spring Gathering, from tent set-up and cooking to photography, filming and presentations. Enjoy your time with youth and community leaders from different parts of the North, and pick up some new knowledge and skills in food.

Week 5

Wrap up your time in the north by visiting all of your new family and friends, giving thanks for what they have shared and saying goodbye.

This last week will be spent in the campground! Get out on the Churchill River and catch some fish for a delicious fish fry, or have people over to share cooking baking skills -- maybe you'll come home with bannock-making skills or have a new recipe for moose meat stir fry.

Debrief with program team

Get together one more time with your program team to reflect on your experience. By this time, strangers have become like family, and it’s a good chance to talk over your growth with people who understand.

About Grow North

Leaf Rapids: Northern Community Engagement is offered in partnership with Grow North, under the leadership of Regional Gardening Coordinator, Brian Trewin, and Grown North staff, Jerome Linklater. Grow North is a project out of FSD Area 1, which helps youth and community members connect with gardening and sustainability in the North. We thank Area 1 Superintendent Don McCaskill, in particular, for his generous support of the program.

We are also lovingly supported by many Leaf Rapids community members, including Uncle Keith Anderson, Auntie Bert, Uncle Dennis, Grandpa Jake and the rest of the Anderson family; our northern family Caroline and John Brayley, Jackie and Zerversa, Chris and Dori, and Ervin, Mayor of Leaf Rapids; Chuck Stensgard, the former coordinator with whom we started our CSL program; Principal Daniel Currie, Vice-Principal Eileen Bishop, Ms. Anterola, Ms. Lussier, Ms. Anderson and Ms. Sanderson with the Elders Tea, and other staff at Leaf Rapids Education Centre; Joan at the Leaf Rapids Public Library; Craig at the Town Centre; Dawna, Kirk and the great staff at the Co-op; and many, many others.

Our coordinator

Anny Chen is second-generation Chinese-Canadian, strongly shaped by her upbringing as a child of refugees from Southeast Asia. Born in northern British Columbia and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she continues to live and work in Treaty 1 Territory and is grateful to be involved in community organizing in the city and supporting Indigenous media as part of the Red Rising Collective. 

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