By Tim Stevenson, Northern and Indigenous Liaison
The transference of traditional harvesting and food processing skills are limited in First Nations communities today. And some say that this is reflected in the health of our communities, including the health of the land and well-being of our people. In my work with Food Matters Manitoba we have been supporting the rediscovery of indigenous food knowledge within communities. Through this work, we hope to promote healthy food choices that connect communities with the medicine from the land.
Harvesters have shared with us that we have been provided everything we need in life from the land. Living with the land is a way of life for many indigenous people; it provides nourishment and benefits us physically, emotionally and spiritually. It also represents a special relationship to the land which makes up a large part of who we are as indigenous peoples. The special relationship is told to us through our songs, teachings, and our way of life, providing a venue for cultural identity and a sense of home with the land.
Our Food Our Health Our Culture is supporting communities to promote the medicine from the land. Not only are traditional foods very high in nutrients, it also has a special type of energy that provides balance in our lives. Being on the land harvesting also allows for those values of love, kindness, and caring to be shared as we gather when we are feasting or having a simple meal with family. What is also significant, is that we know where the food comes from, who has prepared it, and are told of the stories that are shared by the harvesters that have brought the food home.
From the stories from the land, harvesters are also telling us about the changes on the land impacting the food gathered. This includes, disappearance of species, changes in the quality and tastes, signs of sickness including spots and sores on the animals. These stories along with the colonial policies have affected access to the medicine from the land. Our research on traditional food has provided more knowledge on the healthiness of the food gathered from the land. We have learned that the risk of getting sick from the traditional food far out ways the benefits from the food. With that information we continue to promote the use of traditional food practices to encourage cultural food reclamation widely in the communities we work with for a community well-being.
If you are looking to share information about traditional food knowledge and skills, we have developed some educational materials through our traditional food research projects. Check our our newest resources here.
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