By Jaimie Rosenwirth, Suwa’lkh Environmental Education Program Lead

Back in September, I had the opportunity to go to the Canadian Food Centres Canada’s (CFCC) Food Summit, the first one since the pandemic started. With the help of a bursary, I was in Toronto for four days and met members of the Knowledge Sharing Circle that I am a part of, as well as other people who are involved in Community Food Centres (CFCs) and Good Food Organizations (GFOs) across Canada. There were about 300 attendees in total who came together to connect, learn, and engage in ways to support food security in their communities.

The day before the Summit, I went on a tour of Black Creek Farms and met up with my circle members. As I was on my way to check-in in the morning, I ran into one of the circle members in the elevator. We quickly began talking and stayed with each other throughout the conference. The tour of Black Creek Farms lasted about an hour and a half. I took in lots of ideas from what they are doing, as well as just learning more about indigenous ways. There were so many questions being asked by everyone that we were unable to complete the tour, which was amazing to see – I would have loved to spend more time there. As a group, we helped harvest beans for their weekly veggie stand and veggie box pick up. Going on this trip meant I would be missing that week’s harvest day back home, so I was glad to be able to help harvest at least for a short 5 minutes (I may have had a snack of a bean or two as well). After the tour, we arrived back on the school bus and headed to Evergreen Brick Works to have lunch and meet as a circle. Lunch was delicious, and we ended up sitting with a few more members from the circle who were also on the tour of the farm.

Meeting as a circle was amazing. We did some ice breaker games, introduced ourselves to the land, did a forest meditation, and of course, just had time to chat with one another. One member I connected with is from Iqaluit and we were able to talk about the north and traditions. As someone who is Inuit, it was amazing to have the opportunity to talk with her and hope that I can continue to stay in touch with her as she also knows of my auntie from Rankin Inlet. I was also able to see how the qulliq (a traditional oil lamp) was lit. That was very special because my grandma would talk about it but does not have one to show to us. It was an honour to have elder Monica light it for us using the traditional materials.

During the two days of the Summit, my mind was so full of amazing words from so many speakers and elders. At Fresh Roots, I am usually the one to take photos of everything but during the event, I think I took less than ten photos. One memorable experience was going on a water walk with Dr. Tasha Beeds. I was very honoured to be able to join that ceremony. I also was able to sit in on quite a few sessions and learned so many things. I am bringing back ideas to share with the youth at Suwa’lkh and ideas that I want to see incorporated on the farm and in our programming. For example, one thing that I really want to try is to have soil samples and look at them through a microscope so that we can observe all the living organisms in there and so that the youth can see there is more to soil than they may think.

It seemed to be that as the time for me to leave and make my flight home drew near, I was in the process of making great connections with others. I truly wished I was able to stay longer to create more lasting connections and exchange more contact information. I hope that one day, I will have another opportunity to attend the Food Summit again, reconnecting with those who I have met this year and making new friends in the next one.

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