Britannia Carving Pavilion First Nations Garden Taking Shape

After much excavation work gigging out old gravel and till, then bringing in loads of new soil and leaf mulch, we finally dug in our first plants in the Britannia Carving Pavilion First Nations Garden, still to be properly named. All the plants are indigenous food and medicinal plants used traditionally be First Nations peoples. Some of these plants include Saskatoon Berry, Salal, Dogwood, Lingonberry, Huckleberry, Trailing Blackberry, Woodland Sorrel, Oregon Grape, Vanilla Leaf, Wild Ginger, Mock Orange, Wild Strawberry, and Snowberry.

Wild Salmon Caravan

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We are very excited to announce the upcoming 2nd annual Wild Salmon Caravan (WSC). The intention of the WSC is to celebrate the spirit of wild salmon through the arts and culture in a way that will nurture the creative energy that wild salmon have inspired through the ages, and affirm inter-tribal relationships that were the foundation of traditional fisheries knowledge systems. The collaboration and creative energy will serve to educate, inform, and transform the darkness surrounding the industrial storm that is endangering wild salmon. Ancient ceremonies and songs of Indigenous peoples, as well as creative expressions of visual and performing arts, music, storytelling, guest speakers, and art exhibits, will call the wild salmon home to the rivers and streams where they play out their lives in birth and death.

Ultimately the caravan will build capacity of coalitions and campaigns that link Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, artists, food systems networks, individuals, organizations, and communities who are working to protect, conserve and restore wild salmon and it’s habitat in the Fraser Basin and Salish Seas corridor.

Crowd-funding

Crowd-funding (or crowd-financing) is still a very new concept, however it is quickly becoming one the leading ways community initiatives can be coordinated and implemented by grassroots people working to effect positive change. We have launched a campaign where you can donate different amounts. Essentially, we are not asking for charity because you are actually considered a contributor to the Wild Salmon Caravan Mutual Aid Network. We will keep you updated every step of the way.

Why support us? Why this project

Because we strongly believe in art and culture as a medium for social/political/environmental change. We know what we are doing has a direct impact on our communities and our project intends to address the crisis we are currently facing.

Practical Stuff

Check out our campaign here: https://www.generosity.com/celebration-fundraising/wild-salmon-caravan/x/6016876

You will see the video we put together “The Salmon Will Hear Our Songs” that will give more details about the the Wild Salmon Caravan, and learn about how much money we need ($10,000) and what it will be used for, as well as all the benefits you get by donating.

If you don’t feel capable of donating money now there are many other ways to help:

1. Spread the word to those who you think might be able to donate, even forward this email to them right now.

2. Social Media is key! Share our funding page on facebook/twitter! Please “Like” our Wild Salmon Caravan page on facebook & invite your friends, family & colleauges to like the page as well https://www.facebook.com/Wild-Salmon-Caravan-1127741203923144

3. Join the Wild Salmon Caravan – plan your own part of the journey.

4. Talk about the Wild Salmon Caravan (word of mouth is one of the best ways we can get support).

5. Write to us and give us feedback

We are working with planning teams in various communities and regions around the province of BC. Please contact me, if you or someone you know is interested in planning and hosting a stop along the caravan. Please let us know!

My contact details are below and I look forward to your suggestions, comments, and ideas. Anything and everything is welcome. Thank you for your time. Your interest and contributions are deeply appreciated.

Wild Salmon will love you for it!

Dawn Morrison,

BC Food Systems Network
Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty

City of Vancouver Golden Carrots Awards!

The Vancouver food Policy council and the City of Vancouver are celebrating food and food strategy in April! We would love to celebrate some of the individuals or groups in your work and life who are making a difference in the community.  Please consider nominating someone using the form below. And come out to April’s celebration on the 13th!

The City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Food Policy Council are looking for nominations for the Golden Carrot Awards!
Nominations here:  http://goo.gl/forms/wN9Dw1JnUi
It’s been three years since the Vancouver Food Strategy was endorsed by City Council, and the Golden Carrot Awards honour and celebrate the significant and positive advances that have been made to create more just and sustainable food systems in the City of Vancouver.
There are five awards – each award category aligning with the Vancouver Food Strategy goals. One award for each goal to go toward an individual or team in non-profit, business, or public sectors that has made significant contributions to that goal. The five goals are:
1. Support food friendly neighbourhoods
2. Empower residents to take action
3. Improve access to healthy, affordable, culturally diverse food for all residents
4. Make food a centerpiece of Vancouver’s green economy
5. Advocacy for a just and sustainable food system with partners and at all levels of government
The Awards will be presented on April 13th at the Vancouver Food Policy Council meeting

Let’s Talk Food Access: Enhancing Community Food Programs for People with Disabilities Experiencing Food Insecurity

The Disability Alliance of BC has received funding from Vancouver Coastal Health’s Community Investments Funding.The goal of Let’s Talk Food Access: Enhancing Community Food Programs for People with Disabilities Experiencing Food Insecurity is to improve access to safe, affordable food resources in two Vancouver neighbourhoods for people with disabilities through education, mentorship and partnerships and to build the capacity of individuals and community food programs to address barriers for people with disabilities and increase their health and well-being.

What the project will accomplish:

  • Mentor and support people with disabilities living in the West End and the Grandview Woodlands communities of Vancouver to actively participate in food security programs and committees or networks in their neighbourhoods
  • Provide skill building for people with disabilities on how to advocate for, and engage their community in, access and inclusion of food programs
  • Educate organizers and participants of community food programs in the two communities on access and inclusion best practices
  • Provide tools to community food programs to enable them to include access and inclusion in their planning and practices around food security

DABC will be working with the Grandview Woodland Food Connection  in hosting two upcoming public workshops. All are welcome.

Moore information: http://blog.disabilityalliancebc.org/?p=2695

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Warm Plates Community Kitchen

Did you know that in Metro Vancouver we generate about 190,000 tonnes of food waste every year! And over 100,000 tonnes of that could have been eaten. For more information visit http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.ca

Our new community kitchen, called Warm Plates, is an innovative and fun collaboration between the Grandview Woodland Food Connection and the Britannia Seniors Healthy Choices Program and focuses on preparing healthy meals made from “rescued” or reclaimed cosmetically damaged food collected from our grocer partners Choices on the Drive and Eternal Abundance.

Cosmetically damaged food may have a few bruises or otherwise not look so pretty and therefore passed over by shoppers accustomed to only purchasing perfect looking produce. Though this food is still quite good (and organic) it would normally be composted if not for programs like Warm Plates. Food is picked up on the day of the kitchen so not knowing what we are getting challenges us to be creative, planning a meal on the fly with whatever ingredients we have on hand. It forces us to learn how to make the most of our food without waste. In our first session, we collected apples, avocados, lettuce, tomatoes, and assortment of odd veggies and cooked up lentil tacos with salsa and guacamole, and apple crisp.

Warm Plates Community Kitchen is drop in and open to all. Contact Ian for info – 604-718-5895

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Food Justice: Setting the Table for Everyone

Food Justice, as a term, has been loosely used by many in the alternative food movement, though its meaning is slippery depending on how it is used or more precisely how it is practiced. For this reason there are some in the alternative food movement grappling with the usage of food justice in describing our work. The article below, written for the Global Educators of BC Publication (http://pagebc.ca/documents/Winter2015PAGEBCFinal.pdf), was just such an attempt for me to better understand my food security practice.

Ian Marcuse

2013 was perhaps the year that food justice concerns attained a mainstream Canadian discussion following the damming report on our food security situation by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Mr. Olivier de Schutter. His report revealed deep levels of food insecurity in Canada, particularly in the North and in Aboriginal and Inuit communities where up to 70% of the population are unable to access nutritious, affordable food, and quite sadly within a country with great wealth. The full report can be viewed at: http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/officialreports/20121224_canadafinal_en.pdf

Still others, such as Graham Riches from the University of British Columbia have been writing for decades about the food in/security issue in Canada. In his 1986 prescient book, Food Banks and the Welfare Crisis, Riches documents the proliferation of emergency food services in Canada, arguing that food banks represent the collapse of the social safety net and the rise of neoliberal austerity. Food banks are now institutionalized, replacing government assistance programs with charity.

Food insecurity here in Canada largely comes down to income security. Lack of work or adequate wages and other social programs have resulted in many Canadians unable to purchase enough nutritious food with food insecurity growing or persisting in every Canadian province and some 4 million Canadians currently experiencing some level of food insecurity. Particularly troubling is that of the majority of food insecure households (61.1%) were reliant on wages or salaries from employment according to the most recent Household Food Insecurity in Canada (2013) report by PROOF.

In response, recent discussions and efforts are now pointing the way towards a new food justice understanding defined by Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshias in their book Food Justice as “representing a transformation of the current food system, including but not limited to eliminating disparities and inequities”. This is a necessary refocusing that creates new opportunities for a deeper analysis of structural inequality in the food system and connection of the food movement to broader social movements.

This is encouraging because the narrower food localization interest that has dominated much public food discourse the last decade has largely emphasized new forms of production based on the re-emergence of smaller scale ecologically sustainable farming practices and exchange, including direct consumer to farmer exchange such as farmer’s markets or cooperatives. This is an important condition towards transforming our food system from highly commoditized and unsustainable systems dependent on capital intensive inputs and exploitative social and economic relationships, but these alternative agricultural systems still grapple with complex issues of equity perhaps most visible at the supermarket where quality nutritious food is still unaffordable for many people. We also see in these new food systems an assumption that localized production and distribution will ensure better working conditions while the conversation about labour rights and inequality is often ignored, though less so these days as in the case of farm worker rights which are now included in most food policy discussions.

Awareness of food justice is currently at a high. Here in Vancouver we have a newish Food Strategy (2013) that lays out a coordinated and comprehensive approach “in the development of a just and sustainable food system for Vancouver”. This is an important step towards incorporating food justice in a food systems change strategy. As a part of this Strategy for example are a number of community food organizations that work to build food security at the local level and who espouse food justice principals such as food equity and access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate foods for those most vulnerable in our communities. Community food programs such as community gardens, bulk buy groups, pocket markets, food workshops, community meal programs, community kitchens and the like are assumed to advance food justice. While such programs do improve the food access for many struggling households, arguably, like food banks, they may be regarded as a temporary solution only. So what then constitutes food justice practice?

Kirsten Cadieux’s and Rachel Slocum’s article What Does it Mean to Do Food Justice? describe four key points of intervention necessary in transforming food systems. These include: inequity, exchange, land and labour. Through a systematic identification of such existing areas of exploitation and inequality can we then begin to put food justice into practice.

An example that illustrates well a transformative food justice practice is the work of the US organization Growing Food and Justice Initiative (GFJI) “aimed at dismantling racism and empowering low-income and communities of color through sustainable and local agriculture”. Their work is foremost validated through an ant-racist framework recognizing relations of power and privilege as they confront race and class inequity. GFJI also provides leadership, training and empowerment supporting communities of color to engage in food system policy and advocacy (systems change) and more directly by creating meaningful employment opportunities in the food and agricultural sector for these communities through non-exploitative mechanisms of cooperation, equitable land access with sound environmental practices, and fair working relations valuing all labour.

The Growing Food and Justice Initiative illustrates the importance of engagement and empowerment of those communities most affected by food insecurity, giving them a strong voice to address systemic inequality and relations of power while also creating opportunities for direct control over one’s livelihood and food situation. This is transformative work that is rebuilding a new alternative food system based on dignity and communal self-reliance. Furthermore such work is linked to the broader social justice movement.

While many food organizations are struggling to keep up with the growing demands that austerity is creating and doing their best to get healthy food into household cupboards, we still need a deeper level of engagement and leadership in decision-making and policy work inclusive of those communities most affected by food insecurity if we are to achieve true food justice. This will probably only come about through collaboration outside of the food sector and since food connects all of us, there is considerable opportunity for greater impact when we connect the food movement to these other social justice movements – environmental, , Aboriginal, feminist among others to address power and inequality. Such is a food justice practice that moves beyond basic program delivery but rather demands of us a much deeper challenge to the current neo-liberal and corporate domination of our food system.