Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21, 2024 - Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day

In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day- June 21st- FoodShare observes a paid shutdown day so that all of our team members can take time to honour the significant contributions made by Indigenous peoples. 

We also observe a paid shutdown day on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation- September 30- each year. We believe that doing so is a very small but vital means of mending relations, as we continue to work against systems of oppression that negatively impact our food system and our world, chief among them settler-colonialism. 

We believe it is important to delineate these two observances, which have very different sentiments behind them: one of celebration, another of grief. Reducing the contemporary Indigenous experience solely to historical injustice fails to appreciate Indigenous folks’ full humanity and invisibilizes Indigenous leadership and innovation, including when it comes to food. 

All around us we see Indigenous farmers and food growers, chefs and food makers, animal protectors, land advocates and water defenders finding ways to connect ancestral knowledge with modern day circumstance. 

As a food justice organization, FoodShare is committed to working alongside Indigenous-led initiatives that advance Indigenous food sovereignty and seek to restore Indigenous foodways. We are continuously seeking opportunities to amplify Indigenous land-based workers and food makers, and to collaborate with community programs and grassroots initiatives set up to serve  Indigenous community members including elders and families. 

We ardently wish that this day, and month, could be a pure celebration, but we know that any discussion of Indigenous foodways must acknowledge the lasting impact of genocide which sees today’s Indigenous households face double the risk of food insecurity than their white counterparts, as well as the ongoing repression and violence inflicted on Indigenous peoples, their lands and waters. 

When we released our 2020 statement on Indigenous Peoples Day we highlighted the instance of Grassy Narrows, a First Nation where folks have been forced to live with the devastating consequences of over half a century of mercury contamination of the English-Wabigoon River. Today, the money and political will to clean the poisoned river and address the health crisis it has caused has yet to materialize. In June of 2024, Grassy Narrows First Nation filed suit against the Ontario and federal governments for failing to address the mercury contamination thus contravening the community’s rights to fish and gather sustenance in the area.

At the press conference announcing the lawsuit Grassy Narrows’ Chief, Rudy Turtle, said: “We are doing this for our children, our grandchildren and for the generations of young people being born every day into a community with contaminated rivers and fish.” 

FoodShare is grateful to the land and water defenders from coast to coast to coast who continue–in the face of unimaginable repression and injustice–to fight for these life sources we all depend on. 

To the Haudenosaunee market leaders carving out vital third spaces for community to shop for food and goods, to the Anishinaabek food growers maintaining and passing on traditional growing practices, to the First Nations chefs creating lively new twists on ancestral ingredients: today we celebrate you!   

This National Indigenous Peoples Day join us in recognising Indigenous food leadership here in Tkaronto and across Turtle Island this June 21 and all year long.

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