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The Packsack Project

Author: RAIN & NORDIK Institute

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The Packsack Project is an exploration of resilient rural and Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario. We will hear from people, businesses, and organizations who are adapting to change in ways that is reflective of Northern Ontario’s culture and geography. 

By sharing real-life stories, experiences, and examples, we hope you will learn that building resilience may require a change in perspective, attitude, partnerships, and alliances along the way. 

Be the change you want to see in your own community. 

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The Packsack Project is a collaborative podcast between the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN) and NORDIK Institute, sharing real life stories and experiences of Northern Ontario's resilience.

15 Episodes
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In this episode of The Packsack Project, we're joined by Dr. Colin Yates, the CEO of VetsON, an innovative application revolutionizing the delivery of veterinary services. We delve into the intersection of technology and animal healthcare, as Dr. Yates shares his vision for overcoming the challenges faced by large animal vets in Northern Ontario's rural communities. From addressing the shortage of large animal vets to the role of AI, this episode offers a compelling look into the future of ve...
Join us on this flavourful journey in the latest episode of the Packsack Project, as we delve into the inspiring story of Chef Tammy Maki, the creative force behind Raven Rising, an e-commerce chocolate shop shipping delightful, Indigenous-inspired creations across Canada. Raised in a Finnish family and a survivor of the 60's Scoop, Tammy's story is one of resilience, innovation, and the journey to reclaim and explore her Indigenous identity. Discover how this proud 'Finndigenous' chef, havin...
The housing crisis poses a significant challenge to Northern communities, who have been dealing with this challenge prior to COVID. In the second episode of a three-part series looking at housing in Northern Ontario, we explore the creative ways communities are responding to new and chronic challenges in Sault Ste. Marie. We get a sense of some of the more recent challenges, and also some of the innovative solutions that have been developed recently by organizations involved in housing. We sp...
Communities across Ontario are urgently looking for affordable housing solutions, and are looking to Provincial and Federal governments for responding to the housing crunch. In this episode, Dr. Sean Meades shares the history of Monterey Gardens, a Sault Ste. Marie neighborhood that was built after World War 2 for returning veterans and their families. Wartime Housing Limited (now Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp) led the initiative to meet Canada's housing needs, and a local factory built ...
Today we get to know Arlene Meekis-Jung, Indigenous Relations Coordinator with the Local Food & Farm Co-operative. Arlene is an Anishinaabe-kwe from northwestern Ontario who has lived across the north. Her passion for affordable foods in the north has come from both personal experience and seeing the struggles of others. Living in a remote reservation, she quickly learned that cooking from ingredients was simpler than trying to figure out what she would want to eat for what could be month...
In this episode of the Packsack Project, we’re speaking with Kim Jo Bliss and Timo Brielmann, both farmers from the Rainy River area of Northwestern Ontario. Kim Jo is a beef farmer who also works as a Research Technician at the Emo Agricultural Research Station and Timo, owner of Brielmann Agriculture, farms 8300 acres in the Rainy River region. Last season a combination of late frost, drought, and insect pest problems took a toll on the farmers of Rainy River. Our guests discuss how these c...
Gerry Brandon is a world-renowned chef and innovator from Dokis First Nation, passionate about people and Northern Ontario. After a successful career in finance, Gerry pursued becoming a chef at the Stratford Chefs School, which led to opening many restaurants and extensive travel. Gerry recently opened L'Autochtone Taverne Américaine and has breathed new life into a retailer called Busters Mini-Mart in Haileybury (Temiskaming Shores). At L'Autochtone Gerry and his staff fuse dishes wit...
In today's episode, we speak with Dr Catherine Cervin, Vice Dean Academic at NOSM University (formerly the Northern Ontario School of Medicine) about innovations in health education for Northern Ontario. The NOSM University has an amazing track record of developing a culturally responsive healthcare system within Northern Ontario. We cover a number of topics including Dr Cervin's approach to the practice of family medicine in the North and how NOSM University is responding to doctor shortages...
Continuing our exploration of Sandhill Cranes in northern Ontario we speak with those on the ground seeking ways to adapt and mitigate the damage to crops. We speak with Justin Gaudet (Valley Growers) as he describes the different methods he has been using to curtail the damage to his potato crops. We also speak with Christopher Sharp about a new biological control product called Avipel that farmers are interested in adopting through research and experience from the United States. Finally, we...
Over the next two episodes we're looking at the impact that Sandhill cranes are having on agriculture, and the important cultural role they've had for Indigenous peoples. We will hear about the perspectives on the impact that cranes have had and are currently having. Who we spoke to:- Chief Dean Sayers, Batchewana First Nation - Christopher Sharp, Population Management Biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service - Justin Gaudet, Owner of Valley Growers Through this dialog...
The Packsack Project is an exploration of resilient rural and Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario. We will hear from people, businesses, and organizations who are adapting to change in ways that is reflective of Northern Ontario’s culture and geography.In this Introduction we’ll hear from the Packsack Project’s creators, Dr. Sean Meades and David Thompson along with host Dr. Gayle Broad.Dr. Sean Meades is the Research Director of NORDIK Institute, an innovative community-based research...
In this inspiring episode of The Packsack Project, join us as we chat with Denise Atkinson, the pioneering Ojibwe entrepreneur behind Thunder Bay's Tea Horse. Denise delves into her innovative fusion of traditional manoomin (wild rice) with Japanese Hojicha / green teas, creating a unique loose-leaf blend that’s capturing the attention of tea enthusiasts across North America. Hear about her entrepreneurial journey, the e-commerce strategies propelling her brand, and her remarkable collaborati...
Join NORDIK's Amy Boyer in this eye-opening episode with Charlene Mandamin, Ontario Works Administrator at Shoal Lake #39 Independent First Nation. Dive into Charlene’s transformative work on food sovereignty and mental well-being in her community. From seasonal calendars that guide traditional activities to innovative food products like wild rice bars, explore how Charlene’s initiatives offer a culturally-rooted, adaptive, and holistic approach to life promotion. 👉 Episode Highlights:Di...
This episode takes a close look at large animal veterinary services in Northern Ontario, featuring insights from dairy farmer Charles Regele and veterinarian Keith Good. Charles discusses the real-world challenges faced by farmers, the role of local support networks, and the potential of digital applications like VetsON. Keith offers a professional's perspective on practicing veterinary medicine in the North, exploring unique challenges, potential legislative changes, and the influence of tec...
In this episode we hear from Jessica West, founder of Trésor Kombucha, about her journey of starting and expanding her kombucha business in Timmins. Jess details her experiences of suffering a traumatic brain injury, seeing the benefits of drinking kombucha throughout her recovery process, and how this helped her uncover the holistic relationship between gut and brain health. We’ll hear about how brewing her own kombucha expanded into the business she runs today despite bumps in the roa...
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