Food Sovereignty Thursday at Resetting the Table - Highlights of the Opening Plenary

This article has been written thanks to the volunteer contribution of Nazima Qureshi.

FSC’s 9th Assembly was launched with a public event, Decolonizing the Table: An Evening on Indigenous Food Sovereignty, on October 13.

Indigenous food sovereignty should undoubtedly be at the forefront of conversations about food security in Canada. Indigenous food systems are deeply connected to Indigenous economies, cultures, health, and wellbeing. Fundamental values of respect, responsibility, reciprocity, and redistribution once guided relations in the diverse network of Indigenous food systems across Canada. Coast to coast to coast, Indigenous food actionists are decolonizing body, mind, and spirit by rebuilding food sovereignty in their households, communities, and nations.

This opening plenary aimed to explore the front-line stories and struggles of Indigenous peoples as distinct nations who are working to build food sovereignty and was led by individuals playing instrumental roles in the Indigenous food movement:

  •  Joseph Leblanc, Executive Director of the Social Planning Council of Sudbury and Board member of Food Secure Canada
  • Professor Dan Longboat, Director, Indigenous Environmental Studies Program at Trent University, Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River
  • Leesee Papatsie of Feeding my Family in Nunavut
  • Fulvio Gioanetto of Purépecha Nation
  • Dawn Morrison of the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Ryan McMahon, an Anishinaabe writer and comedian, set the tone for the evening by stating “this is hard work but it is also heart work.”

Decolonizing the Table - an Evening on Indigenous Food Sovereignty. Resetting the Table, Food Secure Canada opening ceremony. #ResettingTheTable

Posted by Food Secure Canada on Thursday, October 13, 2016

Joseph Leblanc highlighted food insecurity issues and the importance of acknowledging that food insecurity is not inherent but rather an imposed state in Indigenous communities. The issue of food insecurity extends beyond high prices in the North.

Professor Dan Longboat discussed revitalizing the Indigenous food system. His inspiring words emphasized Indigenous communities taking an active role to bring back the Indigenous footprint into the Canadian food system.

Leesee Papatsie shared her experiences of the food security issues faced in the North and how her initiative, Feeding My Family, not only addresses these issues but also empowers the communities in Nunavut. The inclusion of Indigenous customs and traditions plays a key role in addressing food security issues in the North.

Fulvio Gioanetto defined food sovereignty as the right of everyone to eat healthy at an affordable price. He went on to say “we need to be together, believe in tradition, and be autonomous.”

Dawn Morrison shared her unique background of community development and horticulture to discuss food issues faced by Indigenous nations. She discussed the production paradigm instituted in the industrial revolution, through which the spirit of food was lost and it became simply a product. It is time to “bring back the culture and spirit and richer narrative of food,” which signifies the need to not only shift the food system but also the perspective of food.

Through these discussions, the common theme was opportunity. Opportunity to revitalize the Indigenous food system. Opportunity to not only reset the table but rather decolonize and rebuild the table.

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