Four Arrows Regional Health Authority Inc. hosted the 2nd Indigenous Food Sovereignty Summit during the week of the summer solstice. This 3-day gathering brought together folks from across Manitoba, and many who traveled into Manitoba, all with the desire to learn more about Indigenous food sovereignty and to share their knowledge.
There was a variety of sessions that shared about the different work that communities and food champions are doing, the importance of traditions and ceremonies, and the involvement of youth and elders. Sessions included Language and Identity in which Gordie Walker shared about the Cree language, how language provides meaning and contains stories about the origin of words and what they identify. This teaching provided insight into the connection between language, food, and identity, and how important these connections are.
Carl McCorrister, along with his granddaughter, shared about Gardening and History of Gardening in Peguis First Nation. This was an interesting session that went through the history of Peguis, its forced relocation, and how the First Nation has started a small-scale farm that grows a variety of vegetables every summer. Carl also shared about their plans for the next few years, which include creating their own potato seed, and continuing to grow and harvest their own tobacco. Folks left feeling inspired and interested in starting or expanding gardens in their communities.
With a focus on food, it was no surprise that the food served during the conference was amazing! Red seal chef Steven Watson and his very skilled team cooked and served refreshments made with pre-European contact ingredients during the breaks. 5 nations were represented: Dene with fired caribou with a cracker and dried berries, Cree with duck and wild rice, Oji-Cree with walleye with sumac on a wild rice cracker, Dakota with soup of corn, turnips, and white fish, and Ojibway with tobacco roasted lake trout. There was an abundance of awe and gratitude to be heard as people munched and mingled.
The summit was full of networking, learning from each other, and celebrating the passion that continues to drive individuals, communities, and nations work towards Indigenous Food Sovereignty. Demian Lawernchuck, one of Food Matters Manitoba’s Community Food Champions from Fox Lake Cree Nation was awarded the Mason Jar Award for all his work teaching and building food skills. From seed starting in the school to medicine walks to goose camp, Demian continues to share traditional ways, including food preservation.
With the next Indigenous Food Sovereignty Summit in 2020, it will be great to hear about all the work that will take place in the next two years.
Written by Amanda Froese, Program Coordinator.