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Canada Pavilion promotes food security and resilient inclusive food systems during Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week at Expo 2020 Dubai

February 15, 2022, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Global Affairs Canada

Canada is a top five global exporter of agriculture products, and has built a healthy reputation among buyers around the world for the quality of its food products.

As a global leader in the production of safe, sustainable and nutritious food, Canada’s participation in Expon 2020 Dubai’s Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week showcases our commitment in advancing food security through resilient and inclusive food systems.

During Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week, the Canada Pavilion will launch its second exhibition in partnership with Ingenium Canada titled Bákvḷá. The stunning photographic exhibition celebrates the sustainable fishing heritage of Canada's Indigenous Heiltsuk people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the key role food regulatory and inspection agencies play in protecting consumers while supporting trade and securing global supply chains. Canada, with its rigorous standards and regulations, will maintain its leadership role in promoting food safety and food security internationally. Together, we can promote greater global cooperation through rules-based trade and build a more inclusive and sustainable global food system.

Bákvḷá exhibition at the Canada Pavilion – A new exhibition that honours sustainable fishing heritage of Canada’s Indigenous Heiltsuk people

Exploring the theme of renewal, the exhibition journeys into the Heiltsuk herring-roe-on-kelp fishery in the pristine waters along British Columbia’s central coast — at the start of the Bákvḷa cycle – imparting valuable lessons for regenerative place-based food systems.

In a series of beautiful images, the exhibition showcases this sustainable fishery, which harvests eggs, or roe, that have been deposited on kelp and hemlock branches. The harvest leaves the herring to spawn again.

“How we grow food to meet future demand within environmental limits is one of the biggest challenges of our time and the primary focus during Expo 2020 Dubai’s Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week. We are honoured to bring to Expo 2020 Dubai this stunning exhibition of the sustainable fishing practices of the Heiltsuk Nation. This important heritage offers powerful lessons for a more sustainable food future.”
- Marie-Geneviève Mounier, Commissioner General - Expo 2020 Dubai

Bákvḷá is a Heiltsuk word that means to harvest and prepare food for the winter. It also has a deeper meaning; to harvest food in a good way, with a good heart and mind while honouring ancestral Heiltsuk laws. Bákvḷá also means sharing the harvest with those who cannot participate in the hard work of gathering foods such as roe-on-kelp, the focus of the exhibition.

Located on the central coast of what is now known as British Columbia, the people of the Heiltsuk Nation have continued to live in a dynamic environment bounded by the ocean and the coastal mountains—a rich territory full of diverse life and a wealth of plants and animals to which they are intimately connected. Their experience and knowledge about the land and ocean dates back thousands of years. Food is big part of the Heiltsuk identity, sustaining their connection with their territory, history and knowledge systems.

“The Heiltsuk relationship to herring for food security, trade, and sustainable livelihoods has and continues to sustain us. This is the conservation economy in action, demonstrating to broader society what is possible during this critical time of climate change and biodiversity loss. Our relationship with herring is a perfect example of Indigenous knowledge as a pathway to sustainability.”
- Chief Councillor Mary Slett – The Heiltsuk Nation

Quick Facts:

  • Canada is recognized as having one of the strongest food safety systems in the world, producing a broad range of top quality agriculture and agrifood products, including grains, oilseeds and pulses for export that meet or exceed global standards.
  • From January to December 2021, Canadian agri-food and seafood exports increased by 10.9%, reaching nearly $82.2 billion compared to $74.1 billion in 2020.
  • In 2019, Canada’s agriculture and agri-food system generated $143 billion of the country’s gross domestic product and employed 2.3 million Canadians.
  • Bákvḷá is a co-curated, collaborative exhibition between the Heiltsuk Nation and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. Presented in the Heiltsuk language, English, and French, it was the first exhibition in the museum’s Indigenous Foodways initiative.

Associated Links:

Canada at Expo 2020 Dubai
“Canada’s Expo 2020 theme, The Future in Mind, serves as a platform to promote opportunities for trade, investment, education, tourism and immigration, from across Canada’s provinces, territories and cities, and throughout all sectors of society. Canada’s participation highlights Canadian leadership in key sectors, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, education, digitization, telemedicine, clean technology, agriculture, health sciences, aerospace and more. Canada’s approach to Expo 2020 Dubai is inspired by our core values of diversity, inclusion, human rights and gender equality as the foundation to building a prosperous and inclusive nation.”

Global Affairs Canada
“We define, shape and advance Canada’s interests and values in a complex global environment. We manage diplomatic relations, promote international trade and provide consular support. We lead international development, humanitarian, and peace and security assistance efforts. We also contribute to national security and the development of international law.”

About Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation
Ingenium oversees three national museums of science and innovation in Ottawa - the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum— and the new lngenium Centre, which houses an exceptional collection, research institute, and digital innovation lab.

Ingenium takes science engagement to the next level by co-creating participatory experiences, acting as community hubs and connectors, helping Canadians contribute to solving global challenges, and creating a collective impact which extends far beyond the physical spaces of our museums.

Ingenium is a vital link between science and society. Our engaging digital content, outreach programs, travelling exhibitions, and collaborative spaces help to educate, entertain, and engage audiences across Canada and around the world.



Jennifer Cook
058 597 1920

Mouna Oirda
055 246 0243

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada