And the Winners of the Cathleen Kneen Award 2016 are...

A Food Secure Canada award recognising vision, leadership and a demonstrated commitment to grassroots activism in building a more just and ecological food system

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 3rd Cathleen Kneen Award, two women who show extraordinary leadership and embody the spirit of the food movement in their communities and territories: Abra Brynne and Norma Kassi.

Abra Brynne is a community organizer, scholar and food systems consultant based in rural BC who works with farmers, non-profit organizations and academic researchers from a solid commitment to food sovereignty.  Her civil society engagement includes the BC Food Systems Network, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Kootenay Co-op, Unitarian Service Committee Canada and Food Secure Canada.

Norma Kassi is a Gwitchin elder whose deep commitment, especially working with youth, is to healthy, sustainable and inclusive food systems in the North so people can flourish despite multiple challenges to their traditional sustainable food sources and habits.  Her civil society engagement includes the Arctic Institute for Community-Based Research, Council of Yukon First Nations and Food Secure Canada.

Cathleen was a lifelong social justice activist and feminist who helped found groups from day-care centres to women’s shelters to food systems networks, including Food Secure Canada. In 1971, she and her husband Brewster started a commercial sheep farm in Nova Scotia, where they spent 15 years learning the food system from the ground up.

Wherever she lived and also more widely, Cathleen created networks. As she pointed out, "if you want to understand a food system, listen to the people who are most oppressed by it, who see it from underneath and can see how it is constructed. Leadership from the ground up is key to long-lasting, effective work for a just and sustainable food system, as it connects people and reframes the elements of food systems to make something new, strong, human-scale, creative and resilient."

Cathleen, as a founding member of Food Secure Canada, served as its Chair from 2006 until 2011.  She helped set up and was one of the leaders of the People’s Food Policy Project, which articulated a national food sovereignty policy for Canada, Resetting the Table.

Cathleen and Brewster also worked together over many years to provide analysis of food systems through their newsletter The Ram’s Horn and Brewster’s books, including From Land to Mouth, Farmageddon, and Invisible Giant. 

The Cathleen Kneen awards will be presented during Resetting the Table, FSC’s 9th Assembly, on Sunday morning, October 16th (World Food Day). You can have a look at the official program here:

Cathleen Kneen Award - Sunday, October 16, 10:30am–11:00am

Sunday morning at Ryerson, Engineering Building - Room ENG 103

Food Secure Canada gives out this award biennially to recognize vision, leadership and a commitment to grassroots activism in building a more just and ecological food system.