by Lissie Rappaport, North End Program Coordinator
As part of new project this winter, we were able to get approval to process, cook, serve, and enjoy wild goose meat! With the overpopulation of Canada Geese right now, and hunting limits up to control population, there is an abundance of delicious and traditional protein available. Problem is, regulations make it tricky for both First Nations and licensed hunters to share their harvest with the public. Working with Manitoba Health and Manitoba Conservation, and Environment Canada this year, we were able to pilot a special permit to allow us to use these geese in the Our Food Our Health Our Culture youth program in Winnipeg’s North End. The goal was to introduce our youth to traditions of hunting, skills to process an animal, and learning about where our food comes from.
We partnered with a few hunters (Rob Olson from Manitoba Wildlife Federation, Jim Leafloor from Environment Canada, and Jim Fisher from Delta Waterfowl) who saved some goose and duck meat for us, as well as fully feathered birds to be able to teach our youth all aspects of hunting. From sitting and learning about setting up your blind in the right direction of the wind, to plucking the feathers; from cutting open the cavity, to removing the breast meat and frying up some delicious goose breast fajitas!
After seeing the bird go from fully-feathered to fajita-filling, one girl commented that she didn’t want to eat goose again because it had to die for her meal, (though ironically she also commented on its delicious beef-like taste)! Others asked about how they can get their hunters’ safety and if next time we could take them out on a hunt instead of working in the classroom. Others were delighted to have a chance to share their own hunting traditions and take part in the teaching process, sharing how they would use the wings in their powwow regalia, and their own family recipes for cooking goose. Whether grossed out, or totally engrossed, we’ve never seen a group of teenagers so engaged in a food presentation before, with the ultimate sign being the amount of iPhone photos they were taking of the process!
Though some barriers still exist in organizing this type of educational event, our hope is that this will be a precedent setting project. With trust in the knowledge of hunters’ care for animals, and youth’s interest in and enjoyment of the meats, we believe we can work towards a system where enjoyment of wild game won’t be limited to those with a hunter in the family.
Thanks to Wayfinders Manitoba staff and youth for their involvement in the program!
Our work wouldn’t be possible without your generous gifts!