Community members slowly begin to fill up the Youth Centre, located next to the Band office in Barrens Lands First Nation. The plan for today is to have a discussion on good food followed by cooking a traditional meal. The many generations that fill the centre are going to make this an interesting conversation.
Our conversation begins with people sharing the ways they access food in the community. Traditional foods are a regular part of many people’s diets, including the youth. Listening to stories of the way people access food now and the way they accessed food in the past is like a community history lesson. Elders share different ways that they prepared wild meat, and how important it was to preserve food during the winter months when they were younger. A young woman, Alanna, talks about how she had never tasted hamburger until having to leave the community for high school. She tries to incorporate traditional foods into her diet during the school year while she’s away from home. Although it can be challenging to ensure traditions continue to exist in a community, during special celebrations you will always find traditional foods on the menus such as rubaboo stew.
The atmosphere in the room is uplifting and there is no better way to end a discussion on good food than by preparing a traditional meal together. Harvested from the land by a local hunter is Caribou, goose and white fish. Hands-on learning is the best way to pass on traditional knowledge. Children, youth and Elders worked together to make bannock, prepare the fish and learn how to make two different traditional stews. The aroma of the meal cooking and laughter that fills the room could make anyone feel at home. As we gather around the table to share a meal that we prepared together, it’s a reminder that the food culture and traditions of the community remain strong.