For Indigenous people, food and land have the ability to help heal historical traumas and forge strong identities based on traditional teachings. A return to the land and to cultural practices such as ceremony, songs, and language are part of a cultural resurgence, one described as “a celebration, that after everything we are still here” (Simpson, 2011, p. 12). However, too often food is seen as mere sustenance and not as intimately connected to cultural and community wellbeing.
Indigenous food systems are complex, ranging from growing to hunting and gathering while containing air, soil, sky, plants, animals, people and relationships. Colonization has resulted in considerable damages to Indigenous food systems from rancid rations fed to First Nations by the government of Canada to modern day issues such as contamination of water and land. In order to be well, food must be understood in its full capacity: as healer and helper. This presentation offers insight into the role of food in Cree culture in Manitoba.