Reigniting the Fire
Byron Beardy has travelled all across Turtle Island talking about Indigenous food. As the Food Security Coordinator at Four Arrows Regional Health Authority Inc., which services the Island Lake communities, Byron has seen first-hand the interest and need for Indigenous communities to reconnect with their food systems. Byron considers himself to be connected to Mother Earth and has found a definite need for this knowledge within himself. Indeed, this is how the vision for the Indigenous Food Sovereignty Summit began- slowly, patiently, and by looking ahead and behind, by looking outside and in.
First came the questions: What is food? What does it mean to Indigenous people? And how can we move away from thinking of food as merely sustenance?
To answer these questions requires moving away from a food system that is outside of Indigenous people, and broadening the scope of what an Indigenous food system could be. Too often we hear stories of food insecurity, of people going hungry, in Indigenous communities. Those stories are important, but so are the stories of how we are spending time on the land, growing, gathering, hunting, fishing, and trapping. In many cases, these traditional food practices and the knowledge and skills around the practices are already present in communities. But it often exists in small pockets, and there aren’t a lot of opportunities to share. It’s time to share stories that can help “reignite the fire within our communities,” as Byron calls it. This is the spark to re-ignite the fire within us to look at our history, our present, and our future as First peoples.
To do that, we need to bring our Elders, knowledge keepers, mothers, grandmothers and especially youth to the table to learn about our cultural food practices and the ceremonies, stories, plus traditional languages that honour food. We need to look at the Indigenous nations in Manitoba and learn from their food cultures and relationships. These are our teachers. The Summit will highlight these leaders and the important work they do with-in communities. Sessions will feature the stories of the five nations, and importantly, provide a space for Indigenous people to have a voice about the work they do. Byron’s goal is to create a space for people to come together to eat, to share, to learn, and to talk about moving forward. This is his vision. And it’s about to become a reality. We hope you will join us, March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Please visit again for more updates!