Author: UBC LFS350

Storied Cuisine

Storied Cuisine

By Gisele Uhomoza Angeles: “Sorrow with bread is less” On the night of the 27th, Oct 2018, I attended the storied cuisine event held at the massy books in China town that is dedicated to selling indigenous and immigrant books. The event was organized by the Flavors of hope which is […]

Food Insecurity Lecture

Food Insecurity Lecture

By Ruochen You I have attended a lecture held by Stephanie Godrich, who has been doing research on food insecurity in Australia. Defining Food Insecurity can be hard, but this lecture just inspired me a lot. What does “food security” mean to you? Usually, we […]

Indigenous Culture and Traditional Food Celebration

Indigenous Culture and Traditional Food Celebration

By Ruochen You

On October 27, I attended the Indigenous Culture and Traditional Foods Celebration workshop held at the Mount Pleasant Community Centre, which was lead by Shaniece Angus from Nisga’a&Tsimshian Nations and Jessica Savoy form RISE (Responsible Indigenous Strategy for Empowerment). The workshop consisted of two parts.

First, we were taught to make traditional indigenous beading by Shaniece. I chose to make one traditional indigenous earring. The process was not that hard, however, I found myself having a severe lack of talent in beading, which resulted in a messy work. Shaniece was nice and friendly and helped me find a solution to fix my work, as she said: “beading is all about patience”.

Next, we tried the “Indian” ice-cream made by Jessica. The ice-cream looked same as other ice-cream we usually eat, but it was foamy and gave some sweetness first with a bitter aftertaste. One elder in the Mount Pleasant Community Centre tried a cup of “Indian” ice-cream and found the texture and taste was quite good. “It is actually pretty great” and she asked for another cup.

Jessica illustrated how to make the soap ice cream on our own and told us the most important ingredient is the soapberry, which can be crushed and whipped up to make the foamy texture of the ice-cream. Soapberry also brings health benefits with an adequate amount of vitamin A  and folate. It also functions as a mouth cleanser and helps with digestion if consumed in small amounts (First Nations Traditional Foods Fact Sheet, 2018). Besides the nutritional value, the stems and leaves of it can be used as a treatment for swellings and sores (Traditional Native Healing, 2018), therefore it is considered as both a nutritional food source and as a healer.

The experience from the workshop makes me relate to the video we watched on the course website. Valerie Segrest, a member and food educator who lives in Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, discusses food sovereignty, which often refers to community members shaping their own diet.

The access to food, according to Valerie is the priority as it is the core of tribal sovereignty. Food does not only provide energy but also builds on the culture and strengthens the self-image for indigenous people. The meaning of cedar trees is that of a long life-giver since the trees are used as housing and bakery material, transport, medicine and so on, as Valerie says, it “provides everything we need to survive in this world”(Food sovereignty: Valerie Segrest at TEDxRainier, 2014).

Similar to the cedar trees, soapberry from shrub can be viewed as another food that can contribute to Indigenous people’s everyday life from several aspects, as mentioned above, used as food, treatment, cleansing….. However, with climate change, over-harvesting and loss of traditional food practice and land, indigenous people find it is difficult to have access to their food. What’s more, the markets do not seem to be able to provide all different kinds of food they consume, which is much various than a typical western diet. Therefore, Valerie believes that indigenous people should “value traditional food knowledge as a gift” and “remember what they already knew and share those memories to promote active citizenship”(Food sovereignty: Valerie Segrest at TEDxRainier, 2014).  That can be accomplished by holding workshops about indigenous food, and teaching the indigenous food practice in the community, as the Mount Pleasant Community Centre has done.

So what can you do to help enhance the identity of indigenous people, to gain their food sovereignty? Start with the workshops near your community. Even though I personally did not have background knowledge about Indigenous people before this event, I still found it to be extremely interesting and meaningful to learn about how the culture affect their beliefs: to be patient and to appreciate the natural product by using it in daily life.

By attending such an event, we might be a step closer to understanding food decision and practice. Another thing related to the access to traditional food might be to treasure land and resources as they have been over-explored over the years. Perhaps reducing the carbon footprint, or trying to think about how indigenous people might find it hard to have access to their traditional food, while we can easily get food and sometimes waste it without considering how much effort needed to make to harvest it. It is all about respecting and accepting different cultures.

References:

First Nations Traditional Foods Fact Sheet. (2018) First Nations Health Authority. Available at: http://www.fnha.ca/documents/traditional_food_fact_sheets.pdf

Food sovereignty: Valerie Segrest at TEDxRainier. (2014).

Traditional Native Healing. (2018). Soapberries: little fruits full of benefits – Traditional Native Healing. [online] Available at: http://traditionalnativehealing.com/soapberries-little-fruits-full-of-benefits

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By Hailey Wang

On October 27, I attended the Indigenous culture and traditional foods celebration at the Mount Pleasant Community Center, which was led by RISE (Responsible Indigenous Strategy for Empowerment). This event aimed to help to learn and to understand the true community history through the eyes of the youth, and by sharing their ancestry cultural roots through traditional foods and crafts.

During the workshop, we were first taught to make the traditional beadings and then the “Indian ice-cream”, which was a foamy dessert made of water, soapberries and sweeteners (we used strawberries). Jessica Savoy, who is one of the leaders of this workshop introduced us the soapberries: small red fruit and which is very beneficial to human health. She showed us the research about the benefits of soapberries: they contain high vitamin C and can be used to treat high blood pressure, digestive disorders, and acne. In addition, the roots, leaves and bark of soapberries can also be used in medicines. Examples are, the boiled inner bark which can be used as a laxative, the infusion of the bark which can be used as an eyewash, and the brew which can soothe an upset stomach and treat stomach cancer, constipation and venereal diseases, etc.

This was my first time learning about Indigenous cultures including traditional foods and crafts, and the organizers introduced these foods and crafts very passionately. I was reminded of the presentation about Indigenous foods and food sovereignty that we had in class.

In the presentation, Valerie Segrest, the presenter and native nutrition educator who specializes in local and traditional foods said that “Traditional foods are a pillar of our culture and they feed much more than our physical bodies but also feed our spirits”.

She stated that Indigenous people consider traditional foods a living link with the land and with their legacy and that it helps them always remember who they are and where they come from.

Both the organizers from RISE organization and Valerie Segrest uplifted traditional food as part of their culture and Valerie says that “the act of harvesting hunting and preparing the traditional food are more than just feeding hunger and a sense of identity, it is also about our mental health and our own self-worth” (Segrest, 2014).  From them, I can feel that indigenous people really treat their traditional culture as treasure.

References:

Segrest, V. (2014). Food sovereignty: Valerie Segrest at TEDxRainier. Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=RGkWI7c74oo

Event Calendar – Sustenance Festival. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2018, from http://sustenancefestival.ca/calendar/

 

Kits Community Potluck and Seed Saver

Kits Community Potluck and Seed Saver

By Madison Dennis On October 17th I had the privilege of participating in the Kits Neighborhood House Monthly Community Potluck. Additionally we heard from Ross Moster, on behalf of Village Vancouver, who introduced seed saving to us and provided steps to get involved. The potluck was […]

Senior Social

Senior Social

By Ruochen You I have attended an event called “Senior Social” last weekend, and it was a meaningful experience which inspired me a lot. The event was held at the Hastings Community Center, and senior citizens were invited to make dumplings alongside the facilitators. During […]

Ethiopian Food Tasting

Ethiopian Food Tasting

By Gisele Umuhoza

During the night of the 13th Oct 2018, I had the pleasure attending the Ethiopian food tasting event organized by Hibret Amharic and Cultural School, dedicated to teaching Amharic (native language in Ethiopia) to young children in the Vancouver Area.

From a short interview with Mekdes, one of the organizers, she said that their main goal in organizing this event was to introduce the Ethiopian culture to the Vancouver community through food as well as a way of enculturating their traditional cultural practices down to their children who were born in Canada.

Expressing hospitality and service to the guests is one of the key areas of the Ethiopian culture that was targeted at this event. To me, this translated into understanding the power that food has as a vehicle through which people’s distinct values can be conveyed and carried down generation to generation and to other peoples.

“I was amazed at how people were brave to try and learn the different recipes and try all the food,” said Mekdes, event organizer.

The room was set up in a way which made you feel very welcome, and we were greeted by a group of kids at the entrance. They would then show you around and help you move to the display table where all the food samples were laid out. The organizers were there to explain the types of ingredient that composed every dish, how it is made and would kindly ask you if you would like to try it. After you were moved to your assigned table, you were ready to enjoy the food. All the serving duties were done by the children who moved around asking if there was anything that you needed and were very happy to chat with people.

Around 70 people signed up for the event. People were seated on tables in groups of 4 to 6 people and they intentionally randomly assigned table seats to the people who attended. This made it easy for people to talk to new people and make friends at the event. Through talking to different people, I realized attendants were either Ethiopian, had some sort of relation to Ethiopia (e.g. married to an Ethiopian, from another African country), knew the organizers through work or other business, or had found out about the event online. I think there was a fine mix of participants and a huge turn out considering it was its first time.

Organizer Mekdes recognized and thanked the Sustenance Festival in helping their event reach the greater public. They would like even more help in the future with more advertisement as well as the organization and the planning process.

Overall, as a participant, I really enjoyed the opportunity to attend this event. Before I arrived, I thought I would stay for an hour or less and go home. However, I ended up staying until the end and made a friend, Suzy, from Sudan, who gave me a ride home. This was not just me since many of the participants stayed longer and people came in rounds. When I left people were still coming in. I think that with further means of advertising these small social and free events that create an inclusive environment for many, we will foster the unification of our community in our various distinct cultural identities.  

Apples You And Me – “From apples in the backyard to apple chips at home”

Apples You And Me – “From apples in the backyard to apple chips at home”

By Jessica (Yan) Lu This morning (October 20, 2018), I attended Apples You And Me, a family-friendly event held in the Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, and offered in the partnership with the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project. The Lead Picker Leader, Tiger Lilly from Vancouver Fruit […]

Book Launch – “Big food ‘feeding the hungry poor?'”

Book Launch – “Big food ‘feeding the hungry poor?'”

By Maddison Dennis On October 2, 2018, I attended a triple book launch entitled “Big food ‘feeding the hungry poor?’ Economic, Democracy, Food Justice and Human Rights.” It was moderated by Laura Violante, a PhD student of Public Policy and Global Affairs, and hosted by […]

Wild Salmon Caravan Rainbow Parade

Wild Salmon Caravan Rainbow Parade

By Maddison Dennis

The wild Salmon of the Salish Sea began their journey upstream, swimming through the Vancouver area, and even through downtown Vancouver as part of the Rainbow Parade of the Wild Salmon Caravan on September 22, 2018. While the number of actual salmonids in attendance was low, there were individuals, families, organizations, and communities from all walks of life walking together to support and honour our remaining wild salmon populations. This was the opening event of the Vancouver Sustenance Festival, initiating the celebration of culture and community that will span the next two months.

This parade was initiated and organized by members of the Coast and Interior Salish indigenous people. It was just one day of a week-long event that follows the salmon from the ocean in Vancouver, to their spawning locations near Little Shuswap Lake. There were bikes outfitted as salmon and their eggs, there were chants and songs from indigenous communities, there were activists and community organizations, and even a feast and a sacred, waterside ceremony to culminate the event. This caravan is a catalyst for the initiatives to respond to the environmental and socio-economic threats to wild salmon while bolstering our recognition and respect for our natural environment and the communities that live within it.

While I am a Land and Food Systems student, I am first, a marine biologist and conservationist. I have written papers on the pollutants of fish farms and have conducted research on the effects of urbanization on wild salmon populations. But the science can only go so far without the respect and support of the community to protect our wild salmon. In this aspect, the Wild Salmon Caravan was extremely effective. The parade was open to the public and through its journey through downtown, I witnessed parade members interact with bystanders, and I also witnessed these bystanders walk off the sidewalk into the parade to participate. The parade was welcoming and informative, and made the issue accessible to the public, and also garnered a passion and an interest from many passers-by.

The parade minimized negative tones towards industries such as fish farming and oil that could cause detriment to wild salmon populations. By focusing on positive change and inclusion, people in disagreement will not feel marginalized in the discussion but instead feel welcome. Then, we can learn from each other’s perspectives and create open and effective communication networks. While some parade participants utilized shock and controversy in their outfits and floats, such as the mad scientist fish farmers, or the dilbit mermaid, displaying the threats of fish farms and pipelines, the environment remained welcoming and inspiring, promoting positivity and a sense of motivation provided by the community. In a sea of smiles and laughter, there was an underlying determination to act against negative impacts, create lasting change, and preserve a deep respect for our wild salmon population.

Further initiatives and events like the Wild Salmon Caravan can create an inclusive environment from which we can progress our society, protect our cultures, bolster our environment, and connect with one another.

“Tomorrow” at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House

“Tomorrow” at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House

By Marina Schor Last night (October 18th), I had the pleasure of attending the viewing of the documentary “Tomorrow” at the Collingwood Neighborhood House. We had a full house while watching this amazing documentary that guided us through the main problems our world faces today […]


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