Thursday, December 9, 2010

Feasting for Change 2010 - Year Summary!

Feasting for Change: Reconnecting to Food, Land and Culture is a project guided by a broadly representative working group, collaborating since May 2007, who support urban and rural Aboriginal Communities in Southern Vancouver Island to enhance their food sovereignty and the sharing of the ‘old ways.’

Since May 2007, 32 such events have taken place and reached over 4,100 people.

Food Sovereignty is the state of being in which “all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self reliance and social justice” (Hamm and Bellows, 2002)

Purpose: The purpose of the Feasting for Change: Reconnecting to Food, Land and Culture Project is to bring Aboriginal Peoples in South Vancouver Island together around Traditional Food Feasts to discuss food security and food sovereignty in their communities. The goal is to identify community-specific issues around food and inspire action to address these issues.

Funding: The Feasting for Change project has generously been funded by the Horner Foundation, VanCity Sustainability Group, and the Tides Foundation.

Below are excerpts about Feasting for Change events through-out 2010. Please see our blog for detailed descriptions and a visual summary of these events at

Event 1: On March 13, 2010 UVIC students, Feasting for Change, and SeaChange came together to celebrate the beauty and sacredness of Snit’cel, the old village site of the WSANEC people in the Todd Inlet Park. Everyone worked together to gather materials for the pit cook. Earl Claxton Jr. taught how to use oceanspray stalks to smoke clams over a fire. The students gathered medicines for tea and Lewis told a story of how the birds got their songs while a salmon soup was prepared. After a small lunch, everyone split into two groups. One group helped remove invasive species and the other learned about medicines and indigenous plants. After the groups switched roles, the pit was opened. We feasted on root veggies, clams, apples and it was delicious. 60 people attended 5 young people, 20 UVIC students.

Event 2: On April 16 and 17, 2010 members from over 30 Coastal First Nations communities attended the 3rd Annual Conference on the Traditional Foods of Vancouver Island First Nations. The theme was Celebrating Indigenous Foods in a Changing World: Coastal Conversations among Youth, Elders and Community Members. Feasting for Change presented our project to a packed house, a participated in a display of traditional food projects and knowledge as one of twenty booths at the conference. Feasting for Change demonstrated traditional cooking techniques such as pit cooking skills, and smoking clams. We also supported workshops on bentwood box cooking and removing hides from deer. Over 300 people attended the conference, including 50 youth. Feasting for Change presented our project on the first day to a packed house and on the second was one of 20 booths displaying traditional food projects and knowledge. We also demonstrated pit cooking skills to over 300 people and supported workshops focused on removing hide from a deer, bentwood box cooking, smoking clams, baking scow bread and Elders teaching youth how to eat traditional foods. 300 people attended 50 young people.

Event 3: On May 11, 2010 Feasting for Change presented at the International Congress of Ethnobiology 2010 in Tofino, to over 100 people. It was truly inspiring to meet people from all over the world working hard on food issues and environment protection. It was a powerful moment. Youth from the Digital Harvesters were motivated to keep working on traditional food issues and became our strongest supporters.

Event 4: On June 5, 2010 Scia’new First Nation showcased the extensive knowledge, artistic skills, and experience that exist in their community to over 50 community members, including 15 youth. The youth loved knowledge keeper Evelyn Vandermas’ archival documents of how Scia’new people used the land and how the reserve boundary lines have changed. We also learned about how to carve, make masks with basket grass and cedar, cedar weaving, knit, spin, weave, and carding wool. Fourteen youth joined Lewis Williams on a nature walk. Elders taught the youth different traditional ways to cook and eat roe, crabs, mussels, clams and bannock. Each person got to make their own personal homemade pizza and cook it in Miteama Youth Project’s mobile cob oven. The demonstration cedar was donated to the Miteama Youth Project to help the youth learn cedar weaving and raise funds.

Event 5: On June 12, 2010 1200 people including over 70 youth, attended the Tsawout First Nation Seafood Festival on TIXEN (Cordova Spit). The day was filled with cultural activities including the first salmon ceremony and traditional pit cooking. There were information booths from Feasting for Change, the Goldstream Hatchery, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Vancouver Island Health Authority Aboriginal Health Diabetes Team, Parks Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, World Fisheries Trust/SeaChange with a Sea life Touch Tank, and the University of Victoria. Feasting for Change led the pit cook and we feasted on BBQ salmon, prawns, crabs, clam chowder, mussels, sea urchins, baked bread, corn, potatoes and much more. This event bridges outside community members, agencies and resources in a way that is essential to creating local, sustainable solutions to healthy food, land, and culture.

Event 6: On July 22, 2010 Feasting for Change working group members travelled to Snaw’naw’as First Nation to support their 2nd Annual Feasting for Change event organized by champion Vanessa Bob. 55 people attended, including 17 youth. Highlights included Fear Factor where they blended up McDonalds to demonstrate the value of food. This day was full of fun, laughter and great people. We learned how to play lahal, how to pit cook, to BBQ salmon, cook deer, cut and cook crabs and harvest clams. It was wonderful to see the community together and excited!

Event 7: On August 23, 2010 T’Sou-ke First Nation hosted 12 young people and 35 community members to celebrate the many gifts of their Territory. Leader and passionate food champion Christine George organized the day with great joy and expertise. Elders Shirley Alphonse and Linda Bristol opened the day with a welcome and prayer. Everyone learned to gather mussels, rockstickers (also known as stickshoes or kytons) and dig for clams. The food was scraped, cleaned and then boiled in some of the clam juice. We also made a delicious clam chowder on the beach, a fresh picked berry salad, and a fruit salad. John Ryce lightly smoked and then BBQ'd the fish. It was the best fish we have ever had.

Event 8: On August 24, 2010 Feasting for Change with Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, and Gorge Waterway Discovery Centre hosted a learning day in Gorge Waterway Park, known traditionally as KEMOTEN (the shortcut). 60 people and 20 youth came to learn and experience traditional ways first hand. Cheryl Bryce demonstrated how to pit cook by the beach and Lewis Williams led a plant walk. Indigenous plants donated by the Township of Esquimalt were planted, UVIC Community Mapping Group built a community map, and Anna Spahan and Earl Claxton Jr. taught about traditional ways and medicines. August Thomas also taught the youth how to play lahal, a traditional game using bone sticks.

Event 9: On September 2, 2010 Pacheedaht First Nation invited Feasting for Change back out to their gorgeous beach front to revive and celebrate the teachings of their ancestors through the pit cooking method that the late Ida Jones shared with Nancy Turner. 15 youth dug the pits, gathered the materials, and put the pit together under the direction of their Elders. After the pit was in, Lewis Williams’ led a nature walk and the youth excitedly took the smelting fishing net down to the beach to catch fish and learn to cook them. Elder Stacy Jones closed the day with truly inspiring teachings reminding all of us of the importance of learning and respecting each of these opportunities. 35 people attended.

Event 10: On October 1, 2010 Pauquachin First Nation celebrated the many skills of its members. 80 attendees and 20 youth learned more about knitting, weaving, carving, and beading. They listened to Elders tell stories of traditional ways and foods. The kids piled into the community gym at the end of the school day, eager to learn and proud of their families knowledge. Everyone sat down to a delicious meal cooked by community members Mandy and Joan Henry.

Event 11: On October 28, 2010 over 200 people and 50 youth came to the Tsawout community gym to share, learn and network at Healthy Food, Healthy Families: Food is Medicine. Over 27 exhibitors focused on traditional food demonstrations, health care information, kids and family health, and community wellness. The event was sponsored by the Saanich Adult Care Society, Feasting for Change, Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities. We finished the day with a lovely meal and the movie Teachings of the Tree People: The Work of Bruce Miller about a Skokomish Elder.

Event 12: On October 29, 2010 over 50 Songhees community members, including 20 youth got into Halloween costumes as youth Sandy George led a pit cook, smoked salmon and feasted to celebrate the community garden. The day was chock full of youth carving pumpkins, a tour of the community garden, BBQing food and smoking different kinds of salmon.The first round of Fear Factor contestants had to eat seaweed, oolichans, broccoli, bean salad, olives, peppers, jalapenos and beans. The first four winner moved on to Round 2 and had to eat oolichan grease and blended up McDonalds. The winner got an IPOD shuffle. What a day!

Event 13: On November 3, 2010 20 people including 6 youth envisioned priorities for action for the coming year and how Feasting for Change fits within a youth-focused community. Inspiring ideas and a potential plan/ partnership for 2011 have emerged.

This year, Feasting for Change hosted or supported several workshops focused on learning traditional knowledge and skills. These workshops are listed below.

January 26: Plant Identification walk

February 5: “Where the Blood Mixes”, a play at the Belfry Theatre

February 19: Plant harvest and Identification walk

February 2: Anna Spahan taught about medicines

March16: Cedar Stripping

March 30: Harvesting stinging nettles

April 6: Harvesting Tea for giveaways

April 13: Harvesting Tea for giveaways

April 27 & May 4: Garden Creation with VNFC

April 28: Attended SENCOTEN conference

May 14: Attended SAEC Cultural Symposium Day

May 19: Presented Sandy George’s Digital Harvesters story to youth at Hans Helgeson and

Belmont schools

May 26: Presented at Ecole Brodeur to Parent Advisory Council

May 21: Presented at South Island Wellness Society for Youth and Elder Wellness Day

June 3: VICCIFN Sustainability planning

June 10: Garden Creation at Tsawout

June 21: Attended Tsawout Craft Fair

July 28: Presented Sandy George and Raven Hartley’s Digital Harvesters stories to youth in


August 18: Nature walk with Pacheedaht youth group

September 14 & October 12: Cedar Weaving

October 10: Canning Fruit in T’Sou-ke

November 6: Gaffing Fish with Earl at Goldstream

November 13: Smoking Fish with Earl

November 14: Canning Tomatoes and Veggies in T’Sou-ke

December 16: Canning Fishing in T’Sou-ke

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Going Fishing

Goldstream Gaffing and Fishing Day Nov 5th, 2010.   A group of us were invited by Earl Claxton Jr to join him out on a day of Gaffing and Dip Netting of Coho fish in Goldstream River.

Coho are great for Smoking and for Baking.  Delicious.

Songhees Community Garden Pit Cook Oct 29th, 2010


On Oct 29th the Songhees Community Garden invite the whole communtiy to join together to celebate the success of the year, Halloween and highlight the new salmon smoker and how to do a traditional pit cook.

Sandy and Will George brothers worked together to prepare, organize and plan the event.  They worked with Geraldine, Ron and Norma.

For the Pit cook Sandy and Will dug the pit and Sandy and Jen collected and harvested the ferns and salal for the pit.

My name is Will.  I helped out with the traditional Pit Cook, me and my brother hosted it.   I also have worked as the Community Garden Leader for our New Songhees Garden.

This is Me, Sandy George.   I have been a youth leader for the Feasting for Change project for this last year.

This is Me, holding some Olichan grease from Northern BC.

This is Earl Claxton Jr who is always there to support learning around the old way and he is a good role model.

Getting ready to put everything in the pit. 

This is Linda Dick who is helping put the salal on the pit.   We had to put all the ingredients for the pit together in a mintue.

This is a picture of us having to put the tarp over the food and greenery and then shovel the earth on as fast we can to keep the heat and steam in.

Pit is in the ground, so we have 4 hours to wait.

Sandy wanted to do a Youth Fear Factor.    A event that challenges partipants with traditional and modern foods.   Sandy wanted to challenge them to drinking McDonalds.  Haha

Doesn't it look delicious!   How would you feel after drinking a cup of that?

Food Fear Factor - Seaweed, Olichans, broccoli, bean salad, olives, peppers, jalapenos and beans.   Participants had to eat this plate and then the first 4 winners moved on to round 2 of the McDonalds drink.   The winner won a IPOD shuffle.

When we we opened the pit, a good 'stink' went around in the air.  

The food was then pulled from the ground and we feasted on Salmon, the pit cooked veggies, smoked salmon, fried bread and more!  It was delicious!

Pauquachin Feast Oct 1st, 2010

On October 1rd, 2010 the Feasting for Change working group was invited to support the 4th Feast.

The focus of this day was to celebrate Pauquachin First Nation and the many skills of its members. Community members share their knowledge and skills about knitting, weaving, carving, and beading. They listened to Elders tell stories of traditional medicines. The kids piled into the community gym at the end of the school day, eager to learn and proud of their families knowledge. Everyone sat down to a delicious meal cooked by community members Mandy and Joan Henry. We feasted on crabs, salmon chowder, baked bread, berry and green salad and traditional tea.

It was a great day.

Pictures to follow.

Feasting for Change Visioning Day Nov 3rd

On November 3rd 2010 a group of passionate Elders, youth and community members came together to vision for the future feasting year. They were invited for dinner asked to come with these questions in mind:

• If you had lots of time and lots of resources, what kind of program would you create?
• If you had little time and few resources, what kind of program would you create?
• What are you passionate about with regard to food, culture, language, knowledge and skill transfer?
• How do you want your community to look and what role do you want to play in making it look like this?
• What does success look like?

What are some things you would like to see happen for Elders and Youth around Food, Land and Culture?
-More events for Elders and youth to share knowledge of the differenct generations ie digital story telling?
-I would like to see more youth participating in the events.  Maybe get more direct line to the Nations classes and more recuritment tyoe of sessions at the schools.  Also maybe use the new communications like facebook to reach the youth?
-Sharing of how to gather, prepare, preserve
-Cultural uses

Feasting for Change: Vision for Our Communities – NOVEMBER 3rd, 2010

Our communities will have:
People to teach skills
A place and regular time where youth and elders can gather together
Family focused activities and events
Settings where youth are encouraged and can get skills like facilitation and talking in front of people
Access to wild food sources and medicines
Community gardens and planter boxes with traditional plants and other foods
Access to community gardens
Our own smokehouses
Holistic approaches to wellness, food, and physical activity
A safe and open learning environment
A multipurpose building
Ongoing activities to keep the energy up (eg. for youth, a week in the woods, living in the old ways)
Increased knowledge sharing of traditional treaty rights

Our communities will be:
Hosts of feasts and participants in the feasts of other communities
Places of capacity building for all generations: children, youth, parents, elders
Places where all generations have a clear role
Judgment free places
Places where everyone feels safe and honoured

Statement of Principles and Values

The Feasting for Change Working Group is committed to:

• Creating interactive, experiential events and activities that provide intergenerational opportunities for the transfer of knowledge and experience.
• Providing capacity- and skill- building events and activities that are educational and enhance cultural integrity.
• Facilitating a youth-driven process.
• Honouring and incorporating spirituality.
• Working in a relationship-based and relationship-building way with openness, patience, respect and commitment.
• Taking responsibility for self, community, generations, culture, earth, water.
• Creating sustainable programs that have purpose and relevance.
• Having fun.


Feasting for Change – Priorities for Action
Purpose: To vision to expand community-based programs that connect youth, Elders, food, land, and culture.

• Class for teaching traditional foods. Jen, Lou-Ann, Sandy
• More youth and elder events based on knowledge transfer Sandy, Lateasha, Leonita, Jeff, Fiona.
• Youth leadership role/encourage youth to step outside of their comfort zone and take a healthy risk. Sandy, Lateasha, Leonita, Jeff, Isabelle
• Find resources to support the knowledge keepers (for things like traveling throughout the island.) Isabelle
• Identify the teachers. Identify the learners. Isabelle
• Up-island movement of programs/all island youth connected by food activities, regularly, build ties. Erin, Debbie, Sandy
• Broad-scale native food ecosystem restoration. Judith
• Strong leadership. Jen, Fiona
• National and international knowledge exchange/larger scale trading of traditional foods
• Central location/gathering places Jen
• Find more money! Isabelle, Lou-Ann.
• Grow/harvest enough food for everyone (in each community)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

SnawNawAs First Nation July 22nd

It was a gorgeous day in Snaw-naw-as when the community invited us back up to their land to celebrate in the 2nd Annual Feasting for Change Event.   Community Leader and Champion Vanessa Bob organized and supported the day.   There were many excited and motivated helpers on that day.  

Preparing the Fear Factyor this year which was blenderized McDonalds to show everyone how gross the food is and how you feel after eating it.   A quarter pounder with fries and a coke were put in the blender.

We started preparing the pit cook. Jake Bob took the lead with support from South Island friends Lewis Williams and Earl Claxton Jr.

We also prepared salads, clams, crab and bbq salmon. It was amazing.


This day was full of fun, laughter and great people. We learned how to play Lahal, how to pit cook, to bbq salmon, cook deer, cut and cook crabs and so much more. We thank the Snaw-naw-as community for their hearts and passion for youth, community and food.