All Our Father’s Relations

The Vancouver Food Policy Council is pleased to invite you to join us for a special documentary film screening of All Our Father’s Relations, followed by a panel discussion.

When: Thursday, May 31st – 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Doors open at 6:30pm. Film starts at 7pm. Panel starts at 8pm.

Where: Science World at TELUS World of Science, 1455 Quebec St, Vancouver, BC. View Map.

The venue and washrooms are wheelchair accessible. Gender neutral washrooms are available on-site.

Tickets are $15 – available through Eventbrite. Share the event with friends and family on Facebook.

We acknowledge that we are on the unceded, occupied, ancestral and traditional lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.

As we strive to understand our own relationships to each other and the land through food, it is important for us to also recognize the historical and ongoing colonization and settlement of Indigenous peoples and lands that make it possible for us to be here as settlers.

About the Film

All Our Father’s Relations (祖根父脈) is a documentary film telling the story of the Grant siblings’ journey to rediscover their father’s roots and to better understand his fractured relationship with their xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) mother. Raised primarily in the traditions of the Musqueam people, the Grant family and their story reveals the shared struggles of migrants and Aboriginal peoples today and in the past.

Panel Discussion + Special Guests

Join us afterwards for a panel discussion with Alexandra Henao-Castrillon, Hayne Wai and Howard E. Grant to explore how the erasure of Indigenous and minority communities’ food contributions impacts current society and actions.

Alexandra Henao-Castrillon is originally from Colombia. She has worked supporting and advocating for migrant farm workers in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley for the last 6 years. She is a founding member of the Migrant Workers’ Dignity Association

Hayne Wai is a longtime advocate, researcher, and author on Vancouver’s Chinatown and Strathcona. He is a founding member and past president of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC and a former board trustee of the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden and continues his involvement with both organizations. Hayne worked for the federal and provincial governments and was more recently a sessional instructor at UBC’s Faculty of Education. He has served on government, post-secondary and community committees on anti-racism, diversity, human rights and multiculturalism including the recent city advisory committee on Historical Discrimination Against Chinese in Vancouver. Panelists and participants will explore topics ranging from Reconciliation efforts, migrant farm labour organizing, and other challenges we are facing in just and sustainable food systems.

Howard E. Grant was born and raised in the Musqueam community. He was one of the fortunate children who did not attend residential school, giving him the benefit of learning his culture, values and teachings from his elders in his every day life. Mr. Grant is his family’s cultural speaker and is a historian and cultural leader of his extended family. As a result of this, Howard was given the honour by the elders of his extended family to carry the name qiyəplenəxʷ, a name known and respected throughout Coast Salish territories. Mr. Grant is currently the Executive Director of the First Nations Summit. The First Nations Summit is comprised of a majority of First Nations and Tribal Councils in British Columbia, providing a forum to address issues related to Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty negotiations as well as other issues of common concern. He is also a long serving member of Council from his home community of Musqueam.

Sarah Ling was born and raised as a 4th generation Chinese Canadian in Prince Rupert, B.C. on Tsimshian territory. She is a Project Manager with an Indigenous focus at the University of British Columbia at St. John’s College as well as Student Housing and Hospitality Services, where she produces and manages both Indigenous and Chinese Canadian storytelling initiatives. She is the lead Producer of All Our Father’s Relations, and was recently elected President of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C

The Big Build

Today, the planter boxes all came together – literally. An amazing group of hardworking volunteers armed with drills and impact drivers assembled the planters that had been decorated over the fall. Led by the team at Fresh Roots, we called to action our varying degrees of skill to build what will soon become a flourishing community garden! Thanks to all and enjoy the photos! – Sophie Noel



Filling Garden Beds

Good news: we received a soil donation from the City of Vancouver’s Social Policy Department.
Bad news: it was delivered far from our site!

With shovels, wheel barrows and muscle, we managed to fill a few over the course of Sunday morning. – Sophie Noel


From the city comes a new generation of young farmers

From the city comes a new generation of young farmers
by Jess Mackie November 20, 2017

Students grow food on a Fresh Roots farm in Vancouver. Photo: Fresh Roots.

Farming is rooted deep in Dave Semmelink’s heritage. His father and grandfather were both farmers in South Africa and Semmelink always wanted to cultivate his own piece of land.

But he wasn’t convinced farming could be a viable career for him in B.C. He entered forestry at the University of British Columbia, betting his chances of employment would be greater in that field. Then a friend told him about the university’s six-month farm practicum.

“The practicum showed me that I can actually do this, and can make decent money if I work hard, if I network well,” said Semmelink. With the help of his practicum mentors, he signed onto his first farming lease before he even graduated from UBC.

Semmelink, now 29, is part of a new wave of young people choosing farming as a livelihood. The percentage of young farmers under the age of 35 rose to 6.9 per cent in 2016 from 5.4 per cent in 2011, according to the 2016 Census of Agriculture. It was first time since 1991 that the number of young farmers increased in an industry comprised mostly of baby boomers. This modest uptick is a boon for the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, which presides over the oldest population of farmers in Canada.

Supporting young farmers

Expensive land and limited access to capital pose barriers to aspiring young farmers. Despite challenges, an impassioned local food movement is motivating more young people without any farming background to pursue farming.

“The urban agriculture movement in B.C. cultivates an idea that is hard to come across in cities — that farming can be a viable livelihood,” said Evan Bowness, PhD candidate in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at UBC.

In order to sustain the growth of the sector, the provincial government is finding new ways to support beginning farmers, most of whom are young, said Emma Holmes, the new entrant agrologist at the ministry.

“They are realizing that this is a growing force, and are interested in … supporting those new entrants in a bigger way,” said Holmes. This includes funding existing organizations, like BC Young Farmers and Young Agrarians, which help young people connect with mentors and land opportunities.

Honing farm skills in the city

Urban educational programs, like the UBC farm practicum, are capitalizing on the locavore movement, imparting agricultural knowhow that was previously confined to rural communities.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University also offers two farm school programs in Richmond and Tsawwassen that focus on the research, education, and community sides of sustainable agriculture.

“We believe that we need to train the next generation of farmers,” said Caroline Chiu, farm school coordinator at Kwantlen. “Farm school is the kind of program that works, because we really focus on practical learning.”

“Urban farming as an incubator”

Farming within city limits is an avenue for young people to dabble in agriculture.

“A lot of young people are in cities,” said Will Valley, academic director of the land, food, and community series at UBC. “I would like to see urban farming as an incubator for getting young people interested, and testing out the sense of ‘Do I want to get into farming?’”

Urban farms across Vancouver provide volunteer and internship opportunities. One group, Farmers on 57th, supplies students with individual garden plots to test their farming skills for an entire growing season.

The growing season has ended at Farmers on 57th, an urban farm in South Cambie.

Another urban farm, Fresh Roots, offers a youth program called SOYL, which hires secondary students to care for a half-acre garden in the city, encouraging them to grow, sell, and cook healthy and sustainable food for their community.

“It’s really fun to be involved in the miracle of growing things,” said Marc Schutzbank, the director of Fresh Roots, which partners with local schools to grow educational farms. “Helping youth get excited and feel that magic is just a really important part of what we’re doing.”

“Our goal is not to grow all the food that we can here in the city, we can’t do that,” added Schutzbank. “But what we can do is help get people interested about our food systems” and connect them to rural farmers, “who are the real backbone of our food system.”

Semmelink is now a rural farmer who owns and operates a mixed livestock operation on the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. His initial fears about entering farming have been quelled by the community support he receives both from food enthusiasts on the Island and from B.C. farmers throughout the region.

“I hope more people get into it,” said Semmelink about farming. “It’s a great way to live.”

Read online here.

Pre-Schoolers Explore

The preschoolers learned about bugs and creatures that might live in gardens. Together, we made salt-dough critters, placed them on the wood,  toasted the wood with a blow-torch, then lifted  them to reveal their shadows. The results were beautiful shadows of creatures and river rocks. – Sophie Noel


Strawberries – That’s what we are all really after…

Strawberry – Everbearing

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. In the future we will have native varieties of this delicious berry, but for now we have loads of these everbearing cultivated plants!

Physical properties: Perrenial small bush (20cm diameter) with large, juicy, red strawberries. Will send runners and establish a patch if left alone.

Preferred conditions: Dry heads, wet feet. Prefferably no more than one plant per sq. foot. Mulch will prevent fruit rot. Sunny loaction is best. Will die back in winter, but come up again in spring.

Edibility: YEAH! (but don’t tell the kids…)

For best results, replace every 4th year with new runners as old plants are less productive.


Large Leaf Lupine – Native Wildeflower of beauty and fame!

Large Leaf Lupine – Lupinus Poliphyllus

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. This one is just too beautiful not to spread around!

Physical properties: Perennial, upright, up to 1.5m high

Preferred conditions: Moist to wet open habitats (sea shores, streamside, meadows, disturbed sites). Low elevations. Likes sun, will die back in fall and come right back in spring!

Edibility: Wild lupin contain toxins – Not edible

First Nation Uses: Unknown

Beautiful purple flower heads, fixes nitrogen, self seeding.


Kinnikinnick – Native ground cover to outlast them all!

Kinnikinnick; Bearberry, Coastal; Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. This amazing ground cover is not just beautiful, but has been used in many ways by First Nations all throughout the area.

Physical properties: Perennial, trailing groundcover, evergreen, 20cm tall, bright red fruit

Preferred conditions: Sandy and well drained exposed sites, dry rocky slopes, dry forest and clearings, from low elevation to alpine tundra. Does not need much of anythig but sun and space, will tolerate our winters no problem!

Edibility: Edible but mealy and rather flavourless, leaves were used for medicine (see below)

First Nation Uses: Dried leaves smoked as a part of a smoking mix. The leaves were  chewed on to suppress thirst. Kinnikinnick fruit berries were also mashed to create a sealant on baskets.

In terms of medicinal use, the leaves were infused (by steeping them in water just above the boiling point to make tea) and drink it as tonic. This infusion could also be used as mouthwash for canker sores or weak gums. It was also made into a decoction (made by boiling the plant material in water) and drunk for colds and Tuberculosis. This decoction could also be used as wash for broken bones. Moreover, decoction of Kinnikinnick was used as eye medicine for sore eyes. Amongst the Haida, the leaves were used as a diuretic in kidney diseases and infections of the urinary passages.



Salal – a Native Plant you all want to know!

Salal – Gaultheria Shallon

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. One of our favorites, this one has an incredible fruit!

Physical properties: Bushy perennial, 0.2-5 m tall (layering and suckering) – will grow into the space it has available.

Preferred conditions: Sunny edges of coniferous forests, rocky bluffs, to the seashore. Does not require watering once established. Winter hardy, just plant and forget till fruit is ready! Low to medium elevations.

Edibility: Berries are edible and delicious! Great for Jam, ripen in August

First Nation Uses: One of the most plentiful and important fruits for the northwest coast first nations people. Eaten both fresh and dried into cakes. The Kwakwaka’wakw ate the ripe berries dipped in oolichan grease at large feasts. For trading or selling, the salal berries were mixed with currants, elderberries, or unripe salal berries. The berries were also used to sweeten other foods and the Haida used salal berries to thicken salmon eggs. The young leaves were chewed as a hunger suppressant by the Ditidaht. The leafy branches were used in pit-cooking, and cooked as a flavouring in fish soup.