Tribal teachings restore food independence

by Dawn Morrison


There is much to be learned from Elders and previous generations who share the wisdom of ways to overcome the stress and uncertainty associated with not knowing where your next meal is coming from. Secwepemc (aka Shuswap) Elder speaks of her experiences in the Great Depression years: “We (the Secwepemc) were not hungry because we knew how to grow, gather, hunt and fish to put food on the table and we knew how to work together as a community to make it happen. It was only the people who lacked the knowledge and skills necessary to feed themselves by living on the land that went hungry.”

The ability to put healthy, culturally appropriate food on the table for ourselves, our families and our communities is being rapidly eroded by changes happening outside the historical range of variability. Some major changes to our environment and culture include climate chaos, lack of inter-generational transmission of food-related knowledge and lack of access to land. We owe it to our children and seven generations into the future to do our best to ensure we pass on the knowledge, skills, wisdom and values necessary for overcoming the stress and uncertainty associated with our reliance on the globalized food system.

As social creatures capable of functioning with a high level of intelligence, love, and creativity, humans respond well to tribal teachings that place us back in the circle of life in close connection to one another and the land, plants and animals that provide us with our food. To many of the most persistent Elders and cultural teachers, social networking is just another fancy term that speaks to the ancient tribal values of being in relationship with our extended families and communities. As our most basic and profound physical need, food provides the perfect framework for linking social networks and re-focusing time and energy on sharing knowledge, insights and experiences.

The BC Food Systems Network plays an active role in bringing people together to advocate for a food policy that places community food security as the highest priority. The Network emphasizes the way in which food issues cross cultures, sectors and age groups. ( The all-inclusive approach to building relationships across cultures has resulted in a richness of cross-cultural learning between early settler communities, new immigrants and the 27 nations of Indigenous peoples that inhabit what is now known as the province of BC.

BCFSN 13th Annual Gathering

The 13th annual Gathering of the BC Food Systems Network takes place July 7-10, in 100 Mile House in the Cariboo region of BC. In the spirit of resiliency, diversity, giving and sharing, the history of the venue carries stories of a “standing policy in the depression years to feed anyone who needed a meal if they were willing to do some of the work in exchange.” The Gathering offers workshops, panel presentations, roundtable discussions, poster displays, demonstration tables and hands-on activities. The forum and the gathering are relevant to anyone who eats and/or is concerned about the future of food.

Special Public Forum $25. Gathering $295. Call or email Dawn Morrison for more info:, 250.679.1116 or register online

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