Summer in the city; summer youth program

david (program facilitator) and a youth look at plants, surrounded by a green forest
Project: Food Skills & Nutrition

By: Morag Morison, Practicum Student

The 2017 Summer Youth Program is focused on traditional Indigenous foods and skills like berry and medicine picking, duck processing, and learning to cook with traditional Indigenous vegetables. Our first day of the program was a cooking day where we made beet gnocchi with squash sauce and sage. Since then, we’ve had a bannock making day, a day where we picked berries and learned about medicines and last week  a Metis Elder taught us how to process a duck.

The very first day of the program we started off as strangers, and after cooking together and sharing a meal we had a table full of new friends. The youth had a great time rolling out the gnocchi and learning about which foods were Indigenous to this land pre-contact.


Two summer youth program participants wear aprons, making gnocchi "snakes", one youth is smiling and the other is giving the camera a thumbs up sign

Karampal (left) and Ben (right) really enjoyed making gnocchi “snakes.”

The next week we got together again to learn about bannock with Geraldine. We learned how bannock can also be made with ground cattail roots and has been made this way since before wheat flour was brought over to Canada.

The week after was a trip to Little Mountain Park to pick wild berries and to learn more about what other local plants are used for food or medicine. The youth had a great time climbing into the wild raspberry bushes for a sweet treat – after checking for poison ivy of course!

At the start of the day, a lot of the youth weren’t sure which berries they could safely eat but throughout the afternoon I watched them teach each other which bushes had edible berries on them – based on the way the berries grew or the way the leaves looked on the branches. By the end of the day, everyone had their own yogurt container full of foraged goodies including Saskatoon berries, pin cherries, raspberries, wild sage, yarrow, bergamot and wild rose petals. We also brought some local gooseberries along from the market so that everyone would have a chance to try them raw before we made them into a dessert for the next week.

Pictured below, David shows the participants how to identify pin cherries and encourages them all to try one or two of the sour treats.

Facilitator, David, shows summer youth program participants berries on a tree, four youth are gathered around picking them

This past week we held a duck processing workshop with Jenny Meyer. At the start of the day Jenny asked the youth if anyone had processed and/or eaten duck before and none of the youth had, and most seemed quite unsure of what to expect. When we pulled the frozen ducks out of the bags we heard a few “ews” and gasps, but pretty soon we had everyone putting their gloves on and diving in hands-first! By the end of the day, we had youth begging to take home the feet and the wings to show their families and keep as souvenirs.

many hands (of program participants) touch a duck on the table, preparing to pluck it

Last but not least – a group picture of our fabulous duck processing crew after an afternoon full of duck plucking and enjoying some delicious duck breast and gooseberry crumble.

A group shot of summer youth program participants and the facilitators

Next week we’re looking forward to going fishing and learning how to filet and cook fish from scratch!
To learn more about Food Matters Manitoba’s summer youth program and other programs for kids contact

Support-FMM-Badge-transperantBkgIf you are passionate about programs that connect youth with tradition and nutrition consider joining us in our work and making a donation to Food Matters Manitoba.


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