Urban Access to Traditional Food - Event

Event: Urban Access to Traditional Food: Understanding Wild Game & Understanding Our Food Systems

Gathering Date: 8am-4pm on October 29th and 30th, 2019

Location: Ka-Na-Chih-Hih and Roots to Harvest

October 28, 2019 – Evidence demonstrates important connections between culturally appropriate foods, health, and the reclamation of culture, language and identity.

The Indigenous Food Circle in collaboration with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy, Lakehead University (Sustainable Food Systems Lab) and Sustain Ontario (The Alliance for Healthy Food and Farming), is hosting a major event to better understand urban access to traditional foods for Indigenous peoples. The Urban Access to Traditional Food: Understanding Wild Game event on Tuesday, October 29th, builds on a two-year project called Understanding Our Food Systems that supports fourteen First Nations’ to establish and implement their own community food sovereignty visions. The project has been integral for building knowledge and skills along with long-term support networks that are helping to understand systemic issues around accessing traditional foods in the region.

Ivan Ho, Public Health Nutritionist with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit says, “We know there is a direct connection between culturally appropriate foods and the social determinants of health, and we want to be an active player in finding solutions to support First Nation communities. Indigenous food systems have been inhibited by separating Indigenous people from their traditional ways of life and the ways that food was grown, harvested and processed. In the spirit of reconciliation, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit is taking ownership in becoming fully aware of the impacts on Indigenous health.”

The Urban Access to Traditional Food event will welcome supporters from across Ontario including: Kathy Loon (Meno-Ya-Win Health Centre in Sioux Lookout), Hayley Lapalme (Associate Director of Nourish: The Future of Food in Health Care), Elders and Knowledge Keepers, and speakers from Lakehead University, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The event will also include Rich Francis, Chef and Owner of Seventh Fire Hospitality Group, who will serve as a keynote speaker and caterer for the gathering utilizing traditional foods from the region.

The Urban Access to Traditional Food event will take place at Ka-Na-Chi-Hih Specialized Solvent Abuse Treatment Centre. Morning panels will focus on Indigenous cultural context and Ministerial legislation and implementation. Keynote speaker, Chef Rich Francis will speak at lunch about his experiences with accessing wild game and his most recent experiences filming a new series on APTN. The afternoon will focus on moving forward and success stories with Hayley Lapalme speaking about her work building a future for food in healthcare and Kathy Loon from Meno-Ya-Win Health Centre in Sioux Lookout talking about the Miichim Traditional Food Program. Closing the day will involve an inner and outer circle to develop action items on breaking down barriers faced accessing wild game.

On October 30th there will be a second event held at Roots to Harvest where the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and the Indigenous Food Circle teams will work with fourteen First Nations to further develop and implement strategies and projects that will actualize their community food sovereignty visions. There will be opportunities for networking, knowledge sharing and learning. Chef Rich Francis will be conducting a fish pemmican making workshop. Traditional Anishinaabe Wild Rice Harvester, William Yerxa from Couchiching First Nation, will provide teachings on the traditional practices of the wild rice harvest and processing while providing a wild rice popping demonstration. “We decided to hold two events, one for public attendance on a topic that effects many Indigenous people and organizations and one centered on the First Nations to ensure the development and implementation of the community food sovereignty visions. We will also be spending a good portion of the day planning for the future says Jessica McLaughlin, Coordinator of the Indigenous Food Circle.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit engages in many healthy eating projects including the Understanding Our Food Systems Project which is a funded by the Ministry of Health and LongTerm Care through the Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program Expansion Project.

The Indigenous Food Circle is a collaborative group of 22 organizations that represent and/or serve Indigenous people in the city of Thunder Bay and surrounding area. The Indigenous Food Circle aims to better understand and promote Indigenous perspectives and experiences around food. Using food as a tool for reconciliation and resurgence, the Indigenous Food Circle creates space to reclaim and weave Indigenous knowledge into the Thunder Bay and area food systems.

For more information about this event and the initiative please contact:


For more information - Health Unit Media: news@tbdhu.com

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