Learning about Indigenous foods in the field

Indigenous Foods field course 2017 by Richelle Baker

Indigenous Foods field course 2017 photo by Richelle Baker

As a part of The University of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Food Systems field course, a group of ten UWinnipeg students has just returned from Fisher River Cree Nation where they learned how to catch and process fish, among other skills.

Learning to process fish photo by UWinnipeg

Learning to process fish photo by UWinnipeg

From May 23 to 27, 2017, the students collaborated with Charles Sinclair School students and teachers and laid the foundation for a community garden. They also had the chance to interact with Elders and band council members, and organized focus groups with local youth, to discuss how to revitalize Indigenous food systems and improve community food security. Students also learned how to catch fish using nets and fish processing skills, as well as how to build a shelter and basic winter survival.

Alexandra Bakkum is entering her fourth year of studies with a double major in Conflict Resolution Studies and Human Rights.

“I truly enjoyed the group work and a part of the course that will stay with my for years to come is learning from Knowledge Keepers Jeannie and Graham, as well as the spiritual aspects of fasting and respect that it shows the earth,” she says. Alexandra’s career goal is to work internationally on grassroots levels advocating with people with disabilities for equal rights and opportunities in their communities.

For Dirk Creighton, the field course was an opportunity to be part of land-based teaching that seeks to reestablish health.  The Métis student, in his second year of Indigenous Studies, says that a diet of processed foods has been devastating to Indigenous communities and reconnecting with Indigenous wild foods and organic gardening is critical.  He found the course remarkable. “The community members were so welcoming and open and willing to share their knowledge with us. This is what reconciliation looks like. It is a relationship of learning that is reciprocal.”

Building a fire photo by UWinnipeg

Building a fire photo by UWinnipeg

Genevieve Gay is studying athletic therapy after receiving her undergraduate degree in environmental studies. During the school year she is based in Winnipeg but her home is in Masset, a village in Haida Gwaii, B.C., where she is a cook at a land-based children’s summer camp and part-time lighthouse keeper. “I loved feeling the rhythm of life in Fisher River, which is familiar to me, and meeting the community people and Elders,” she says. “The highlight was being on Lake Winnipeg with a fish net and catching pickerel, so very different than salmon fishing.  I also find it interesting how each place has its own way of making bannock, which differs from community to community.”  

The students are working on a photo-essay, multi-media podcast and traditional food charts as part of their final projects which will be finalized in consultation with and presented to the Fisher River community members.

The course is offered by associate professor, Dr. Shailesh Shukla, Indigenous Studies

1 Comment

  • Anil said...

    Very happy to read about it, excellent effort to connect local knowledge with institutionalknowledge. It may be even more useful if nutritional analysis of a) Sane dish cooked differently and different local dishes cooked by local communities is added

    The effect of soil nutrients on the food nutrition may also be analysed as pursued by #Sristi fr decades and honey bee network

    Very good work keep it up

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