Author: Lizz Brooks, IPS Program Development Coordinator
Food is something that many individuals consider often. Perhaps you’re excited for your favourite meal, you may be questioning going to the grocery store with any current panic buying, or even whether you can afford meals this week. Beyond fueling our bodies, food is a vital piece of human connectedness that can greatly impact our ways of being. A nourishing meal can build bridges between cultures and even within our own. The food dynamic within Indigenous communities is vast. In Canada, food insecurity is common amongst many Nations whether it is from high costs of healthy food in isolated communities, a low income or both. Food insecurity is a common reality.
How do we fuel our spirits when food is unaffordable? We return to our roots. Traditionally, Indigenous peoples have obtained their food through hunting, fishing, gathering, and other natural ways of being. These traditional practices not only support our ability to feed ourselves, but also keeps us connected to our culture physically through our bodies.
When we gather our own food, we continue the path of interconnectedness between ourselves and the land. Since many sources of food are seasonal, we rely on sustainable practices so the salmon, elk, or other game can return in a healthy quantity the following year. Many Nations also have practices like canning, smoking, and other preservation methods to keep their people healthy throughout the year.
However, due to historical and current restrictions for gathering traditional foods, many Indigenous people have lost their connection to these methods of caring for themselves and the land. Several individuals are relearning these practices and returning to their roots, but it will be a slow process. If Canada wishes to support the Indigenous Peoples, whose land it resides on, it is essential that traditional ways of being are honoured and not limited. Food is more than nourishment for our bodies, it is the core of our being and connectedness.