Jackie Milne, president of Hay River’s Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI), has been honoured with a Meritorious Service Medal.

The award is handed out by Governor General David Johnston on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of one’s outstanding contributions to their country.

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Since 2013, the Northern Farm Training Institute has expanded significantly under Milne.

Jackie Milne celebrates after receiving a Meritorious Service Award. Photo courtesy: Northern Farm Training Institute.

Jackie Milne celebrates her Meritorious Service Award. Photo courtesy: Northern Farm Training Institute.

What started out as a small-scale training institute soon turned into an internationally-renowned organization with connections well beyond the borders of Canada.

Milne, a mother of three, was ecstatic when she found out she’d won.

“I’m crying tears of joy,” she said. “To be recognized for this work is a huge boost for the Northern Farm Training Institute and for all of us. This is about restoring our food independence.

“We have the power to transform our communities and build healthy food systems we are proud of.”

Milne grew up in Hay River where she saw ‘an immense need’ for Northerners to restore food independence.

In 2013, she started running training workshops that soon gained national and international attention.

Since then, NFTI has become a hub for international non-profit the Savory Institute operating out of a dedicated farm campus in the community.

The institute has also provided hands-on training to some 127 people from 30 different communities in that time.

The Northern Farm Training Institute says a ceremony will be held to celebrate Milne’s accomplishment at a later date.