Plenty Canada has continued to reintroduce its in-person events to the local community, once again acting as an important hub for Indigenous perspectives and educational initiatives. On April 23rd, for instance, the organization hosted a “Country Foods Workshop” at the Plenty Canada CampUs. For this event, they gathered Indigenous knowledge-holders from a vast array of backgrounds to share information about traditional foods and medicines from their communities. Naturally, all participants were given samples of the food, making the workshop a valuable and informative knowledge-sharing experience as well as a fun food-tasting retreat.
Forty guests attended the workshop, a pleasingly high number given how recently in-person gatherings have been reinstated. It drizzled rain on the day of the event, but everyone was able to stay dry thanks to the large tent set up in Plenty Canada’s yard. When the second building of the CampUs is complete the weather will no longer be a concern. The combination of spoken lectures and communal meals worked perfectly, allowing the three presenters to share their unique cultural perspectives through the delicious food they prepared.
Plenty Canada’s Executive Director Larry McDermott showed up to present along with Sarah Craig, a staff member who has done fantastic work maintaining the organization's outdoor areas during the pandemic. For their shared presentation on Algonquin food, the two of them prepared raw maple syrup as well as wild rice salad and venison.
For an equally unique change of pace, Plenty Canada also invited Trudy Metcalfe-Coe, an award-winning Inuk chef. Having recently worked at the Qajuqturvik Community Food Center, Trudy's work focuses on combining traditional Inuk food with modern cuisine, for wholly unique flavours you can't find anywhere else. For this workshop, she chose to present Muktuk (whale blubber), Caribou tartar, and Arctic char chowder.
Finally, Kayla Sunday from the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, along with her cousin Karhiiosta and husband Derek, shared some of their favourite recipes and spoke to the attendees from the perspective of a family that gets the majority of their food from subsistence hunting and gathering. The three presenters shared Three Sisters soup (made from white corn, beans, and squash), venison stew, and spicy venison pepperettes.
Overall, all three presentations were “wildly” successful, with the food being savoured and enjoyed by all participants. Plenty Canada facilitators are already thinking about ways to expand upon the event's success. They'd like to create workshops with a similar interactive component, so that the participants can more closely experience the culture being discussed, beyond attending as passive spectators. You can be sure, at least, that the organization will be rolling out frequent in-person events throughout 2022. After all, the Country Foods Workshop was only one of the events connected with a grant Plenty Canada received last year (others included Chuck Commanda's birch bark canoe workshop, as reported in a previous newsletter). Please keep an eye on Plenty Canada’s social media for any announcements of additional programs. Newcomers are always welcome!
— Breton Campbell