Volunteers assist at the Indigenous permaculture learning garden on Broadway and Good, led by knowledge-keeper Audrey Logan. (This garden is currently under transition for the summer of 2021 as the site is redeveloped for affordable housing, but you can learn more on their facebook group).
This Indigenous Peoples Day, we have put together a list of resources, both local and digital, about land, food and growing, by and/or for Indigenous community members. For non-Indigenous readers, we hope this can be a helpful inoculation for continued learning about what it means to live, eat, and have relationships on this stolen land as we work towards change and justice.
And we encourage you to do this learning not just today, but all year long.
Edited by Anna Sigrithur for Fireweed Food Co-op
Food and land are inextricable. As a settler-founded food organization that does its work on stolen land (Treaty 1, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples and the homeland of the Métis Nation), we acknowledge a fundamental, terrible truth: in an inescapable way, we are part of the ongoing problem of land dispossession and colonization.
Acknowledging this fact is the clear first step. But as we have learned from the #landback movement, it is then our responsibility to stay engaged in the messy complicity, complexity and challenges-- not to disengage. Not to drop out. Not to become apathetic. So-- the second step is much less clear, but far more pressing: how can we do our food systems work in a way that doesn't perpetuate the harm of the past and present, and begins to work to reverse or build away from it?
This is perhaps what is most often meant by the term 'decolonizing', but, reading and listening to the words and voices of many Indigenous people and communities, we know that true decolonizing requires the often neglected key element: relationships. Without real relationships, there can never be real understanding of where that 'second step' should be taken, and how we might make it together.
And so, in the spirit of walking in the right direction, we wanted to invite one of our farmer Co-op Members, Aimée McGillis, to share some words about the work she is doing as a grower and land-steward:
"I didn’t set out to be a farmer. I am an artist and metalsmith; but the land called me to grow food for the community. Looking around I realized how little Indigenous representation there is in the community of growers here, and I knew I was being asked by the land to let myself be seen. I think a lot about being a good Ancestor. It’s important to me that I actively seek out the ways in which I can be in balance with myself, nature, my family and community.
Growing food on my Ancestral homeland has helped me to do this. It has allowed me to cultivate the belief that my Ancestors have always known, we belong to the land. With that knowing, comes a commitment to all life, it informs the way we grow, the reason we grow, the people we grow for, and how we do business. This is so much more than an income for me and my family, it’s about healing, rekindling traditions, and passing down a legacy that can grow outwards to for the health of our community, the health of our descendants, and the health of the planet."
Aimée McGillis is an Indigenous (Michif/Cree/Ojibwe/Lakota/French/Scottish), Autistic, Seed keeper, farmer, interdisciplinary artist, mother and Medicine Woman committed to intergenerational healing, the earth, community and cultivating a reciprocal relationship with the land. Together with her partner Geert, she runs Elemental Earth Gardens. Follow them on Instagram for more more sharing and stories from the perspective of an Indigenous co-owned family farm.
Food Resources for Learning & Growing on Stolen Land
A note to settlers, especially white settlers: please think of the ways you can do the most work on your own to educate yourself first before asking Indigenous people to educate you. In the case of Indigenous-run resources offering services or products, please think of how you can support them, rather than take from what they are offering.
Growing Your Indigenous Owned Food Business (Webinar June 24) -- Red River College
ininiwikistayikewin -- grassroots Indigenous seed library in Winnipeg
Red River Regional Seed Library -- a seed library at CMU run by Métis seed keeper Caroline Chartrand
Dehydration Nations -- an open-source, grassroots, Indigenous traditional food skills group led by traditional foods knowledge-keeper Audrey Logan
Klinic Garden Group -- the facebook group for the traditional permaculture 'deer spirit' garden in West Broadway. As mentioned in photo caption above, the garden is undergoing a transition this summer as the site is redeveloped for affordable housing. You can donate to the redevelopment fund for this site here!
Where to buy Indigenous foods in Winnipeg (resource list/ map) -- Food Matters Manitoba
Feast Cafe Bistro -- an awesome, Indigenous-owned local restaurant
Neechi Commons -- an Indigenous-owned food worker co-op in Winnipeg, currently seeking tenants to regain control of its flagship building in the North End of Winnipeg!
Four Arrows Regional Health -- a Northern MB focussed Indigenous food and health organization
Northern Association of Community Councils -- an organization that offers great resources and programming for Indigenous northern food security
Seeding Resiliency: Dakota Farming in Canada (blog post) -- by Hañwakañ Blaikie Whitecloud
Online/ Non Local Resources
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action
Land Back! What do we mean? (article) -- by Ronald Gamblin (4Rs 4 Youth)
Gather (documentary film) -- First Nations Development Institute
Journey to the North (a youth-made film) -- Jacob Bird & Food Matters MB
Miijiim Food as Relations Webinar Series -- Finding Flowers Project
The Serviceberry: An Economy of Abundance (podcast) -- Robin Wall Kimmerer & Emergence Magazine
Sierra Seeds -- Indigenous-owned seed rematriation project
Reseeding the Food System -- interview with seed keeper Rowen White
Of course, this list is not comprehensive or exhaustive, but it is a start.
Got more resources to share? We've started an open-source food systems learning & resource syllabus for all our networks to contribute to. Check it out and add your own resources here, our join our facebook group here.
Read more from Fireweed in our safe(r) spaces policy.
Finally, we would like to note (thanks to our friend César Flores) that Indigenous Food Sovereignty is inherently linked to water, housing and language. Working for food sovereignty includes working for housing for all community members, fighting to protect land and water from poisonous industry, supporting the creation of Indigenous Protected Areas for management and traditional harvesting, and supporting Indigenous language and land-based learning programs.