As the Food Security Coordinator at Four Arrows Regional Health Authority Inc., Byron has seen first-hand the interest and need for Indigenous communities to reconnect with their food systems. Byron considers himself to be connected to Mother Earth and has found a definite need for this knowledge within himself. Indeed, this is how the vision for the Indigenous Food Sovereignty Summit began. First came the questions: What is food? What does it mean to Indigenous people? And how can we move away from thinking of food as merely sustenance?
To answer these questions requires moving away from a food system that is outside of Indigenous people, and broadening the scope of what an Indigenous food system could be. Too often we hear stories of food insecurity, of people going hungry, in Indigenous communities. Those stories are important, but so are the stories of how we are spending time on the land, growing, gathering, hunting, fishing, and trapping. In many cases, these traditional food practices; the knowledge, the ability and skills around the practices are already present in communities. But it often exists in small pockets, and there aren’t a lot of opportunities to share. It’s time to share stories that can help “reignite the fire within our communities,” as Byron calls it. It begs the question: What is Indigenous Food Sovereignty?
A teaching of the logo relating to the representation of the summit we see the hand, the dirt and the plant growing from the dirt, this is part of the creation story.
We see the image of a circle and the four colours within the circle representing the four directions North, East West and South.These represent the four cardinal directions, they tell us where we come from.
The East representing the youth, and new beginnings.
The South is a representation of woman; Mother Earth, the woman, aunties, grandmothers, nieces.
The West symbolizes adult life.
The North is where the Elders are represented, the white haired, long living peoples.
The hand represents how fragile mother earth is. The plant growing from within the hand represents life and food, and all that we gather.
The five ribbon colours is a teaching from the Cree teachings. It also represents the four directions. The east is represented by yellow. South is the colour in red. The colour blue represents the west. North is white. Green symbolizes the centre. The centre is mother earth, the centre is Creator these are the colours that were given in ceremony to represent the summit.